After graduating from University, Ruth Uwimbabazi, was unable to find a decent job, so she decided to set up a company that produces scented handmade candles.
The 25-year-old who lives in Kampala, Uganda studied software engineering and says unemployment pushed her to start her new found career in 2016.
Ruth learnt to make candles by watching tutorials online, and says her business was inspired by her love for scents.
I grew up loving perfumes and then I had a very good memory, I'd smell a certain fragrance and say my mother at this point wore such and such a scent
She later started the business with a capital of 1,300 US dollars, money that her mother gave her.
“I grew up loving perfumes and then I had a very good memory, I’d smell a certain fragrance and say my mother at this point wore such and such a scent. So I knew eventually I wanted to branch into a business but I wanted it to be a scented business. Not just candles as is but I was willing to go anywhere into anything scented. I like candles, I feel like they are very sentimental so that is when I decided to come up with the idea to make scented candles,” said Ruth.
Consumer demand for luxury products is on the rise in Africa and entrepreneurs like Ruth are targeting a growing middle class, that’s looking for finer things.
The entrepreneur sources her ingredients both locally and abroad. She says she tries to keep her candles as natural as possible.
“My candles are soy blend so that means I use soy wax which is the best. It carries the fragrances really well and also my fragrances are natural. The essential oils and fragrances that I use are very natural so there is no effect, no heavy effect; the candle was too too heavily scented, it almost felt like it had a chocking effect, those — it’s because the products that am using are natural,” said Ruth.
Ruth runs her business from her house and hires workers to help out when needed.
The entrepreneur has a range of 15 scents under the ‘Nkwanzi Scents’ brand.
Her candles come in raspberry sangria and Mediterranean fig scents, among others.
Her candles sell for 13 and 19 dollars each, depending on size.
Ruth says she’s received many orders lately from clients looking for gifts to celebrate Valentine’s Day.
“I have had people who want to collaborate. You know the companies that make gift hampers and the likes. I have had companies that want to collaborate, I have had customers that want to make customised candles for their loved ones so it’s been, I have actually made the most orders this season, they have been so many,” she said.
The candles are available to shoppers online. Today the entrepreneur is making a delivery to one of her clients in town.
“This Valentine’s I decided to get these amazing candles for someone, I will not say, but I’m very sure they will like them because they are my best scents. I chose my best and I know they will be amazing,” said Lilian Naava.
Ruth is working on plans to expand her production capacity and grow her business to reach more clients across the country and beyond.