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‘Kampala’ business is evergreen , GM TKB Ventures

Can you think of a business  you could do without using electricity? The General Manager of TKB Ventures Limited, Alhaji Moruf Sanni, who is also the Director, Dye Dealers & Kampala Workers of Nigeria, provides the answer in this chat with Franklin Alli

Alhaji Moruf Sanni

What does your company do?
TKB Ventures produces Kampala clothes material such as adire,batik and tye and dye.  We are also dealers in dye chemicals such as soda and sulphuric which are used in manufacturing these materials.

How long have you been in this business?
I can say this business is family business.   It’s handed down from parents to their children, and this has been ongoing for generations.  So you can rightly conclude that we are a family of kampala clothe manufacturers.

I am from Abeokuta, Ogun State.  As you are probably aware, Abeokuta is the home of Kampala and other associated materials.  We relocated from Abeokuta to Lagos in the 60s and started the business here on this ever busy Arowojobe Street, Oshodi, Lagos.  So, we have been in this business for almost five decades (50 years).

What are the raw materials use for production?

As I said earlier, the raw materials used in the production of Kampala is fibre.  Fibre is clothe, most especially cotton materials. Second, the dye like vat, vat is just a product name and sulphur mixed with sodium sulphate and caustic soda.

There are three major types of Kampala materials and they are tye/ dye, batik, and “aro”.  Tye and dye is the one you tie the clothe and you create the design before dyeing it, you use tread to tie the clothe and dye it.  The second is batik.  The batik is the one you do stamping using candle wax to create design on the clothe before dyeing.  The third one is called local adire.

We call it “Alaro.”  That one is not done here.  The raw materials like the dye, the soda and sulphur are all imported as there is nowhere they are processed in Nigeria.  We buy them from India, Germany and China.  Majority of these raw materials are now source from China.

How is the Kampala market in Nigeria?

There is no competition for Kampala.  It is a thriving industry because there’s always demand for them by people.  There are always occasion to wear them-weddings, burials , anniversaries and other ceremonies -just name it.  Such events keep the business going because people are buying.  It is a creative business.  As am sitting down, I can conceptualise the design I want and produce it.  Kampala is a business that doesn’t die as there are innovations everyday and that keeps the business growing.  The fact is, as long as people live the demand for Kampala is ever there.  And it has become our traditional clothes especially in the South Western parts of the country, for example, Ondo State Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko is always on Kampala.  Likewise, Former Minister of Information, Prof. Dora Akunyili, World Bank Managing Director, Dr. Ngozi Okono-Iweala, including our former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, is always on Kampala.

How much capital is required to start the business?

Like I said earlier, if you have two bundles of guinea material sold for  N4,000 + N4,000 to do the printing, +N1,000 for dye and an additional N1,000 for candle, you are talking of N10,000.  So, with N10,000 you can start the business, you make 12 piece of 5-6 yards of Kampala, and if you sell five yards in six places for N800 or N1,000 per yard you can figure out how much you’d be making.

What challenges do you face in your daily operations?
The challenges are with the governments, and not with operators in the industry.  You can’t go to a bank and say I want to borrow money to make Kampala, no bank would listen to you, however, if governments at all tiers are serious about poverty alleviation, they should look into this kind of business and help operators especially with the advent of Micro Finance Banks, but as at now, no government is helping us.  So that is the major problem.

Is irregular supply of electricity not a problem to your business?

Our business doesn’t go with public power supply.  We rarely rely on NEPA, now Power Holding Company of Nigeria .  This is because 98 percent of our production processes is dependent on natural sunlight.  We use firewood to boil the chemicals, and use sunlight to dry the clothes after they have been dyed, we don’t use oven, and again, we use native iron neither charcoal nor electric iron to stretch the materials.  So, we don’t depend on electricity, we only do so when we want to pump water and when the machine is not pumping we draw water from well.  So, we don’t use electricity. .

How has the business grown?
As I told you earlier, we’ve been in this business since 1960.  Our mother started and handed it down to us.  We have factories in Abeokuta, and shops at Lagos Island.  We have trained so many apprentices who have left and established their own outfit.  They are so many that I can’t count.  Through this business I have been able to train my children in Universities, and one of my son is now a Director in the company. I encourage graduates to come here and learn and be their own boss. Kampala business is evergreen, it flourishes all round the year It is a business that doesn’t need a shop, you can do it in you house.  Like I said earlier, if governments’s serious about reducing poverty, they supposed to have come here and see how they can enroll unemployed youths in apprenticeships scheme for few months and empower them with just N20,000 to start their own business and be their own boss.


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