Denis Kimbugwe is the founder of Pure Products Ltd attending the 1st edition of the E4Impact MBA at Uganda Martyrs University. The business, located in Lubaga Division (Kampala) was established in 2011 as a market-based social venture to provide access to safe clean drinking water to the underserved and unserved urban and peri-urban Ugandans at an affordable price, while creating employment to the youths through water franchise kiosks and water ATMs model.
“We want to reduce the PET plastic environmental burden by reusing and recycling our water bottles and we also wish to improve the sanitation standards of our customers by reducing water related diseases” he said “I enrolled in the MBA as I needed to refine and redesign my business model as well as tape the MBA resources to grow my business to another level. It’s a great program that every entrepreneur should undergo.”
Pure products Ltd sells two products: Sparkles packaged drinking water, which acquired a Uganda National Bureau of Standards certification permit in 2011, and Water ATMs, automated water dispensing units, which provide communities with 24/7 safe water access. The Water ATMs are programmed to dispense any quantity (from one glass to 20 liters) and they can be solar powered and cloud connected, thus enabling remote tracking of the water quality and each pay per use transaction by card and also coins.
Let’s know more about it!
1. How was your Business Idea born?
Untreated drinking water is Uganda’s most critical public health problem especially in peri-urban areas and to the poorest people. My village was experiencing great difficulties with obtaining proper water services. Traditional approaches have fallen short of meeting the accelerating need for safe water and access to piped water systems is generally very limited, serving only about a third of Uganda’s urban poor and less than a third of its rural poor. The alternatives provided by water delivery companies are often unreliable and very expensive.
I was inspired to help my community, using my Marketing background. I believe water is so much more than a need, it’s a human right. I found out a Micro Franchising market based model accelerated with Water ATM technology from India and this motivated me to bring the same model right to my community and scale it to other parts of Uganda. Now we’re serving over 1000 loyal customers and employing over 50 youths.
“I believe water is so much more than a need, it’s a human right.”
2. How can your business improve the life of the beneficiaries of your activities?
We estimated that 80% of peri-urban Ugandans lack access to safe drinking water. In most of the unplanned urban settlements in and around Kampala, residents pay up to three times more for safe tap water than residents living in planned urban communities. As a result, residents collect water from alternate contaminated sources. This causes frequent outbreaks of waterborne diseases such as cholera and dysentery. When the Sparkles sales teams personally deliver to individual customers, they sensitize the customers about safe water consumption and sanitation, in return, they earn commissions through the chain of recruited customers thus increasing access to clean water and improve their economic status. By establishing solar powered kiosks where water is purified on site and distributed to nearby communities, Pure Products Ltd provides a cheaper, cleaner water source that is more convenient to consumers. In addition, Pure Products creates direct and indirect jobs for Ugandans who are employed both at the kiosks and as distributors and delivery agents while preserving the environment through the re-fill model.
3. What has been the main challenge you had to overcome in your entrepreneurial experience?
There are two:
– Team building: Picking the right team for a startup is stressful and difficult. It’s not enough to find candidates who fill certain roles, you also need to consider their cost to the business, their culture fit and how they’ll work as part of your overall team. Such considerations are exceptionally hard when you’re under the pressure of filling those positions as soon as possible. But I have been slow on recruting and doing a lot of on job training.
– Dealing with the unknown: How long will my business exist? How profitable will it be? Will customers like my product? Will I be able to give myself a steady paycheck? None of these questions has a solid, reliable answer, even when I trusted my business model. It’s one of the reasons I’ve enrolled for the E4Impact MBA program.
4. In your opinion, what are the main qualities an entrepreneur should have?
Believe in your idea, be patient and persist with prayer since its God that perfects!
5. Is there a person you are inspired by, i.e. an entrepreneur or a particular mentor?
Gary White, the Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder of Water.org, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering people in the developing world to gain access to safe water and sanitation.
6. What would you suggest to a new-born entrepreneur?
Pick the RIGHT business: most small businesses fail because they aren’t real businesses in the first place. Pick the right business and your work as an entrepreneur will get a whole lot easier. If your business doesn’t help people, doesn’t provide a solution, or doesn’t give people something they want then your business definitly will fail
7. Could you tell us a particular satisfactory moment you had in your entrepreneurial activity?
When a PUM-Netherlands financial expert Dijk van Dick came and analyzed my business for two weeks and told me that I am “mining gold!”
8. Could you tell us how E4Impact MBA has helped your career?
Thanks to E4Impact MBA, I have been able to redesign my business model basing on Professor Gujins advise, through the program I was exposed to PUM-Netherland organization which has significantly contributed to my business growth.