Student rides on plastics ban to profit from paper bags


Charles Maina makes khaki bags. PHOTO | QUEEN MUNGUTI | NMG

The ban on plastic bags in Kenya in August 2017 paved way for a new business ventures; the manufacture of paper shopping bags.

As such Charles Maina changed business from fruits vending that was earning him Sh10,000 to khaki bag production that now earns him Sh75,000 a month.

A 2018 study published at ResearchGate on toxic effects of plastic on human health and the environment says there are several toxic materials which are secreted by plastics.

The materials are a serious risk factor for human health. “In January 2018, I decided to venture into the khaki paper manufacturing as I saw an opportunity in the market thanks to the new government law. I used to vend fruits on a wholesale price and would supply to retailers on Kenyatta Avenue in Nairobi,” said Mr Maina. The third year student at Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology majoring in Business and Information Technology began his fruits business in 2015 and would buy avocados, bananas, onions, tomatoes, pineapples and watermelons once a week.

“Often, I would use public service vehicles to and from the market and would pay about Sh1,000,” said Mr Maina.

He later abandoned fruit vending and opened Jamii Products Limited, a company that makes khaki bags, opposite Mang’u High School in Thika. “I rented a working space in Juja at a rental cost of Sh7,000 per month. The move was convenient to me since my brand has now grown,” said Maina.

He does not have employees yet because the work can be managed by one person.

However, he works overtime when he received large orders.

The entrepreneur produces envelopes, shopping bags and book covers from roller cost papers which cost Sh100,000 per tonne.

The bags come in different sizes. Size two goes for Sh320 per bunch of 100 pieces. A bunch of size one goes for Sh280 which also has 100 pieces.

“I open the company at 8am and close at 6pm. However, my closing time varies depending on the number of orders,” said Mr Maina.

An A8 and A4 envelope is sold at one shilling and seven shillings respectively. His shopping bags also vary with size. An A4 exercise book cover is sold at Sh10 per piece.

On a good day he produces 800 bunches of bags which he transports to clients throughout the country.

“I get most of my clients on online platforms. After placing an order, they make payments via M-Pesa and an additional delivery fee. Their packages are then transport to their destinations by public transport,” said Mr Maina.

He makes profit of about Sh75,000 per month but he faces the challenge of transporting the products to clients because at times the parcels get lost or fail to be delivered to clients on time.

- African Laughter