We talk to Patricia Majule, founder of Unique Favors Tz, a Tanzanian company which designs and manufactures event supplies and personalised gift items.
1. Tell us how you came up with the idea to start Unique Favors Tz.
Since my school days, I always had a yearning to own a business. Once I completed high school in early 2013 – before joining the University of Dar es Salaam – I started a small business, creating unique gift items made of eggshells. The business has grown substantially and we are constantly adding to our wide range of party supplies and gift items that we manufacture.
Our customers range from corporate clients and retailers (such as bakeries and stationary shops) to end consumers.
2. And your product range?
Our products are categorised into party supplies and gift items. Our party supplies include items such as cake toppers, photo props, masks, caps, packages, crowns, badges, cards, calendars and banners. Our gift items include customised mugs, diaries, pillow cases, keychains and puzzles.
Most of our items are not seasonal but during special events, sales for certain products triple. For example, during graduation season, the demand for cake toppers and graduation caps, sashes and props is usually high countrywide.
Our current strategy is to stay ahead by manufacturing large quantities of certain lines to ensure availability of our products at all times and to focus on low prices and best quality.
3. Who are your main competitors?
There are very few who create similar products. Those who do, operate on a small scale and tend to concentrate on a particular product line.
4. Explain what you feel has led to your success in the market.
We aim to be consistent in the market by producing quality products at a low cost. We try to secure raw materials in bulk to lower the expense. We are mostly focused on low-cost, high-volume products.
Concentrating on our growth and expansion has helped with our success. One of the strategies we took was to source agents who stock and sell our products in each region across Tanzania as well as in Mombasa, Kenya. This assures the availability of our products in more areas. We also have freelancers who promote our products (working from home) and are paid commission once the customer pays.
5. What are the biggest challenges to be successful in your industry?
You have to be resilient in the manufacturing industry, particularly if you are starting from scratch. Scaling up the business requires a lot of resources and it will take at least five years to take off. Patience is the key.
Another challenge is securing high-productivity machines as these can be expensive. It requires substantial savings or a loan which is tough to acquire, especially in Tanzania.
6. Tell us about one of the toughest situations you’ve found yourself in as a business owner.
Challenges are part of business. Two years ago, we ordered several machines that were worth a lot of money but during shipment the container got lost. This incident was one of the toughest. We had to start over to accumulate funds for new machines.
7. In addition to your own industry, name an untapped business opportunity in Tanzania.
One untapped opportunity is in the processing of agricultural products. Many people within the agricultural industry have put focus and energy into farming, forgetting about the processing part. This has led to the loss of many crops owing to the lack of processing options and long-term storage.
Tomatoes are one example; many farmers just break even or suffer financial loss as tomatoes tend to decay fast. There is a massive opportunity for big processing industries to buy and process tomatoes for sale within the country and beyond.
Unique Favors Tz CEO contact information
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