Junior Bakasa: a young entrepreneur leading the fight against COVID-19
“Success occurs when opportunity meets preparation” - Zig Ziglar
Junior Bakasa, is the owner and founder of Olive Virgin Pvt Ltd (OV Products) a Zimbabwean detergent manufacturing company. The company produces a range of products including hand sanitizers, hard surface cleaner, bleach, scouring powder and dishwashing liquid. OV Products also offers decontamination services and supplies Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
The beginning of OV Products
Unhappy with the quality of scouring powders she was purchasing in the market to wash her pots and pans, Junior decided to take issues into her own hands and develop her own - Kwesha. Kwesha scouring powderis the first product Junior sent to market in 2016 and with its success she diversified the product line to include additional household cleaning items such as bleach and dishwashing liquid.
With the expansion of the business, the product line is being rebranded to Wave – a more visually appealing brand name.
The year 2020 has been a challenging year for businesses globally due to reduced operations brought about by nationally imposed lockdowns to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Businesses such as OV Products have had to adapt their business plans to survive the pandemic.
“The pandemic made us question our business processes and we identified the need to readjust in order to survive”
As a graduate with a degree in Marketing, Human Resources and Psychology, Junior has an aptitude for identifying and meeting customer needs and wants. At the beginning of the COVID19 pandemic, she diversified her product line to include hand sanitisers whose supply was already limited due to increasing demand. As substandard products began to flood the market, OV Products sanitisers were certified by the Standards Association of Zimbabwe (SAZ) providing customers with the assurance that they were made with the recommended alcohol requirement.
In addition to the production of sanitisers, OV Products also ventured into disinfecting services. As the number of COVID19 cases were increasing, several companies were requesting the service. OV Products was able to respond quickly to calls for disinfecting from private and public institutions during the peak of COVID19. The profits earned from this service facilitated the purchase of a van for the organisation, four additional foggers and the construction of two small warehouses for production and storage.
Winning Youth Connekt
‘Winning Youth Connekt has opened a lot of doors and opportunities for us. Being associated to such a programme has helped bring us recognition and visibility in the market’
As one of the four winners of the Youth Connekt competition, Junior Bakasa was awarded USD 18000 to expand her business. One of the first activities undertaken was to enhance the organisation’s marketing and visibility by branding the van with the organisational information; painting of the warehouses; improved labels for the products and purchasing of uniforms for the team.
“We made sure everyone got uniforms to make sure that when we present a professional corporate look”
To enhance the organisations operations, OV Products purchased additional production containers for the detergents, raw materials and a 5000l tank ensuring a consistent supply of water.
“With the funding received through Youth Connekt our production has increased and we will soon outgrow our current structures”
Before the organisation had received the Youth Connekt funds, approximately 100L of sanitiser were being produced a week and they now have the capacity to produce 1000L a week. The increased production capacity has brought new opportunities and one of the countries largest wholesale retailers has shown interest in stocking their bleach product. The OV products are currently being stocked in retail shops countrywide.
OV Products is currently employing 10 people in the production, marketing and deep cleaning departments.
“My team is made up of youths who live in the community as I wanted to empower young people and showcase that we are capable of running successful businesses”
OV Products is strategically located in the high-density suburb of Aspindale, contributing to Junior’s philosophy of working to serve and empower the community. In long term she is hoping to set up a small store where any individual in the community can access the products at a wholesale price for resale, providing an additional source of income.
As a young business there are of course a few challenges being faced by OV Products. The site where the products are being manufactured does not have electricity, but Junior has figured out innovative ways to conduct her business activities without it. However, as demand continues to grow processes will need to be automated to scale up production.
Through Youth Connekt partner IBUHUB , Junior is being provided with mentorship and training which will help her scale up operations and realise her vision of becoming one of the country’s leading manufacturers.