Few people would give up an international job offer with good pay to start their own business. Maxima Nsimenta is one of the few hard-skinned people who want to create and add value to things.
After working with Schlumberger, an oil services company for two and a half years where she successfully led a team that installed a double electric pump unit in a deep sea in Congo, her supervisor was saddened by her decision to leave. but gave him paid leave. absence to rethink his decision to join the cosmetics industry. This allowance helped her get started.
Before embarking on entrepreneurship, she was absorbed by a lot of research and business plans to turn her idea into reality. With the help of her brother, she enrolled in the Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI) and this chemically facilitated the testing of her products.
“After nine months of research, I brought six natural and organic skin and hair care products to market at an exhibition in 2015. Over time, we added lipstick, shampoo , conditioners, lotions, shower gels and cleansers. And we continued to develop the list. “
Initially, she sold through social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram. In 2016, she opened a boutique with six employees. The following year, she opened a saloon in Ntinda and increased the workforce to 28. With the upcoming opening of her new outlet in Ntinda, she will reach 57 employees in nine outlets comprising seven stores and two. lounges.
The creative entrepreneur justifies his passion for cosmetics.
“African women are drawn to hair, skin and social life.” Nsimenta believes that hair and skin are interconnected hence manufacturing both using purely natural products which makes product development easier because the core is not adulterated.
Livara products are made from 100% natural materials, including shea butter, papaya oil, moringa and palm oil. Of these, 92 percent are of local origin. However, this gap needs to be filled depending on the packaging since most of the products are sourced from Kenya.
With her sister Theresa Karungi Obel on board as Head of Strategy and Growth, she put in place structural systems that aligned the trajectory of the organization.
“We have sales, finance, marketing, production and research teams. Before that, I moved randomly. There are now categories with job descriptions and key performance indicators. It is in fact important for entrepreneurs to have the right teams to guide them in their progress because as an entrepreneur, my mindset is different from that of real business leaders, ”she explains.
To further alleviate their burden, staff are continuously trained to keep abreast of market trends. Budgets are also planned rather than making random decisions. The mother-of-two admits that she focuses on product development on functional or easily usable items, she says.
“I was built to be great. What motivates me is the need to perfect the game I play in and see lives change using my product, ”says Nsimenta.
Working with a team taught him to be responsible and built it professionally and allowed him to spend more time with his family.
Livara has 56 Inventory Management Units (SKUs) of different products. For example, lipstick has nine shades, children’s and adult hair products are around six and nine SKUs, respectively. She says Africa supplies raw materials to these big brands and still does not supply the products on its own. Selling raw materials is good, but selling a finished product is even better.
With start-up capital of $ 50,000 (177 million shillings), her former savings from previous employment, she currently exports around 50 to 100 kilograms to 25 countries on a monthly basis.
In the future, there are increasing demands. With this growth comes greater challenges that can be overcome in a team that will promote good planning. Before the end of this year, plans are underway to open stores in South Africa, Canada, Malawi and Kenya.
The devoted believer in God attributes his fulfillment to the favor and wisdom of the Almighty.
Behind the name
One wonders what “Livara” means and where it was adopted from. The entrepreneur confirms the name as a revelation through prayer and fasting. Livara means – divine, free will, kindness, conditional and ideal love. Nsimenta took the name because of his faith in God and admits to upholding these values. This is how the name was born and was registered.
Reluctant to express himself, Nsimenta estimates the company’s value in millions of dollars. Each year the company pays more than 100 million shillings in taxes. Like any business, she adds, there are also dry days with no sales.
The go-getter dreams of reaching 6,000 stores worldwide through franchising and partnerships. For this to happen, there must be appropriate systems and structures in place.
“Your foundation has to be strong before you can really grow. Otherwise, if we are not firm in what we do, as we grow, we could reach a point and get stuck, ”says Nsimenta on growth.
The scourge of the pandemic has affected small and medium-sized businesses. The shutdown of Facebook was a big blow because it was its main selling point. After the lockout was imposed, Livara’s outlets closed for two months because the business environment was not favorable.
“Our revenues were affected because we closed three branches. On a good note, all employees were retained and supported with their SACCO savings.
The Livara Sacco program was created with mandatory savings of at least 20,000 shillings to empower employees economically. During the lockdown, people had their savings and paycheck to cover another month of payment.
Getting the wrong business partners is a real challenge. Many people will come with ulterior motives and may not see the vision through your lenses. After falling victim to a failed partnership, Nsimenta advises budding entrepreneurs to take the time to choose the business partners they plan to work with.
“I once made the decision to have the wrong partners and it cost me 300 million shillings to get them out of the trade deal because we weren’t aligned. Getting the right business partners is essential because we cannot do it alone. When you have the right partners, you move far, but when you are alone, you move quickly to a point. “
The 34-year-old believes her competitor is Movit Limited in terms of revenue and the international market. Its niche is for people who like natural and organic products that range in price from 5,000 shillings to 45,000 shillings.
The best way to retain and attract customers is to hand out top-ups.
“When you buy a Livara product, you get a half-price refill once you return the packaging to encourage customers. We continuously train our staff in customer service to achieve the best results as well, ”says Nsimenta.
Tips for those who want to win gifts
We are not all made to be business people. She breaks it down further.
“It’s a tough journey to achieve, which involves sleepless nights, depression, and a lot of mental health effort to really be in one piece.”
In addition to overseeing a growing business, Nsimenta needs to make sure there is money to pay salaries, as well as make people happy and comfortable.
Some of its employees are better paid than the bank. The lowest salary she pays is 400,000 shillings. She values her employees because they are the ones who have propelled the brand to where it is.