Tursam Investments Ltd now worth Shs124million is targeting exporting fruit juice across the region
Like the rest of Ugandans, Sam Turyatunga, 28, knew well that the country had plenty of fresh fruits.
But unlike the rest of the population, he decided to take an opportunity of adding value to the available cheap fruits to produce natural juice.
“Uganda is a rich country endowed with variety of fruits and during the peak season, the prices are always very attractive,” Turyatunga told The Independent at the company’s plant in Nansana, approximately nine kilometers, west of Kampala.
He is the founder and director of Tursam Investments Ltd ,a company behind the production and sale of juice made from bananas, mangoes, oranges and the popular malt drink ‘Bushera’ under Uhuru Fruit Juice brand.
He also manufactures wines on contract basis for special occasions like weddings and introduction ceremonies.
Turyatunga’s journey into juice processing started in 2013 while in his second-year pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Food Processing Technology at Kyambogo University.
At the time, he was making juice in his hostel room and selling it to his fellow students, lecturers and other members in the university in disposable cups.
It is at this time that one of the lecturers linked him and others to Afri-banana products Limited, an agribusiness innovation incubator for banana sector value-chain development, established five years ago in Kampala, under the Universities, Business and Research in Agricultural Innovation (UniBRAIN).
But when the business picked up and the space became too small to produce in large quantities, he moved to the University Lab within the institution.
Armed with his Shs3million savings, he purchased machinery including pasteurizer and blender and relocated to Nansana. Now the company is worth US$35000 (Shs 124million) producing 1,500 litres of juice per day.
“Initially, most of the work was done manually and yet my aim was to produce and maintain a quality product on market and only automated machines could help me achieve it,” he says.
Coca Cola is currently the leading producer of juice known as Minute Maid and Kenya’s Kevian Kenya Ltd that produces Afia juice.
He also picked interest on contract manufacturing strategy for which he makes juice for other companies under different product names although retaining the manufacturer rights.
“Contract manufacturing looks to be a new concept in Uganda but it is a good strategy for young entrepreneurs that helps them keep in business,” he says.
Turyatunga sought product certification from UNBS through the Quality Infrastructure Programme (QUISIP) under the Ministry of Trade Industry and Cooperatives and by July 2016, the company had fulfilled most of the requirements.
He says Mango and banana Juice were certified, cleared for sale anywhere in Uganda, adding that they are working on getting the Q-mark that permits them sell across the East African region.
But the success has come equally with challenges.
In the first year of business, Turyatunga says he would reduce or halt production during off-season for fruits but has learnt to buy in bulk during in-season and preserve for low seasons.
“The government has also failed to help upcoming entrepreneurs…There have been promises of financial assistance to people in value addition but that never comes to pass partly because it is hard to meet the right people,” he adds.