When the Ugandan government imposed a ban on the use of the polythene plastic bag in 2008, 16-year old Andrew Mupuya perceived this ban as a great market opportunity to start a business of environment friendly paper bags – handmade. Today he is 21, employs 16, and is baptized the paper-bag-king of Uganda.
. He just had passed a Junior Achievement (JA) company program that was being implemented at his school at that time, being a finance manager at a company producing envelopes and paper bags. In 2010 he founded his start-up YELI – short for Youth Entrepreneurial Links Investments, now Yeli Paper Bags Limited. His parents had become unemployed and he was struggling to find a way to help them financially and pay his own school fees.
“ … I made a business plan. To start out, I needed 36,000 Ugandan Shillings (About $13.40 at the current rate). So I collected 70 kilograms of used mineral water bottles to raise capital. But I raised only 28,000 Ugandan Shillings ($10). My fellow students and teachers thought I was mad. To meet up with the plan, I borrowed the remaining 8,000 Ugandan Shillings ($2.90) from my teacher. I sold a ream worth of paper bag every 3 weeks and from each ream, I earned 20,000 ($7.40), worth of profit.”
Today he employs 16 people who produce up to 20,000 paper bags each week. His long list of clients includes restaurants, retail stores, supermarkets, medical centers, as well as multinational companies like Samsung. His aim is to employ 60 people by 2015.
Please watch him introducing his business on the Anisha Prize video:
Mupuya’s remarkable achievements and shrewd business skills have been recognized with a number of accolades in recent years. In 2012, Mupuya was the winner of the $30,000 Anzisha Prize, a major award given to young African entrepreneurial leaders who take the initiative to address critical needs in their communities.