Rwanda : Afrifoam group- propelling the manufacturing sector

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Afrifoam group- propelling the manufacturing sector

Afrifoam is one of the oldest Rwandan investment groups which have grown since 1999, to become the current multipurpose one stop center for all building materials.

The group has various factories which produce mattresses, steel tubes, paints (Simaco wall paints), and mineral drinking water, among others. However, apart from the drinking water, the rest of the factories use imported raw material, which are processed to finished goods.

The initial mattress factory is located factory is located in the Gikondo industrial area, while the newest segments are all located in Nyabugogo, Kinamba area- an outskirt of Kigali city. The paint factory produces decorative color range of gloss oil based, emulsion water based, roof and floor paints in over 60 colors of choice of quality.  These are also high quality paints for interior and exterior use with excellent durability and gloss retention, superb and also available in tint bases.

Though all these are produced by other factories, Afrifoam group has set the pace to provide all the materials under one roof- making it easier for a client to purchase all the building material, paints, every building material and beddings and now toilet rolls.

Shalita says that the objective of the group is to ensure that construction sector is supplied with material on a timely basis and with easy access since there is a growing need for construction material in Rwanda, as the country goes through a reconstruction stage.

All the material is sold on wholesale basis and our clients can easily access all their needs in construction in one place

The group begun with the production of mattresses (Afrifoam factory) but in the recent years the investment has seen the entrance of manufacturing multiple products such as, iron sheets, metallic bars, ridges; and the latest entries on their production line include: drinking water (Gasabo water), and toilet paper- which is still on a trial and has not been branded yet.

The group is also about to launch a nail manufacturing plant so as to meet its goal of having all the material under one single roof.  With the supply of all building material, water, toilet rolls and mattresses Afrifoam considers itself as the “One Stop Center for all building materials” in Kigali.

This means that if one is planning on building a house, they can get all the supplies, purchase water for the construction site workers, and toilet paper for their toilet needs, and as soon as the house is complete- one doesn’t have to worry about where to buy mattresses if they have had a business relation with Afrifoam. This can probably win one a bargaining power and a discount if one purchases all the material under this one roof, and deal with the group all the way to completion of the housing project.

“Our target is to have clients purchase everything they need for construction with ease. It is cost effective and time saving if a client purchases all the material without having to move up and down for each of the supplies” says Patrick Shalita, the Groups’ marketing manager

To become the sole supplier of all building materials and supplies in Rwanda is not the only target for Afrifoam. The group has bigger plans to conquer the regional market. “Since we have already established factories in Burundi, we see this target possible in the next three years. Our expansion plan would like to focus on the countries where such facilities are not available” Shalita states.

The group provides many jobs for the community both in the formal and informal way, and operates with various trader and official distributors throughout the country. The group also commissions the distributors in each region, who are also in-charge of marketing, maintaining the supply to clients and standards of their products.

According to Shalita, the demand for these products especially mattresses, is very high (75%) but the output is not able to meet the demands because of low supply (70%) caused by delayed imports of raw materials delayed and scarcity of finished products.

He also notes that on the construction line, there is a demand of 90% and supply of 87%- which is also caused by scarcity due to delays in transit of raw materials. While the market demand and supply the water, nails and toilet rolls products, has not been determined yet, since these are still new products on the market.

Despite the challenges in exporting the raw materials used in producing these products, especially those used in making mattresses, the marketing department of Afrifoam believes that it is important to stay in business so as to meet the demands of needs for the community in building a new country.

Though there is a high demand for building material and mattresses in Rwanda, Afrifoam are not the only player in the Rwandan market. The group is also playing to the tune of a very competitive market which has seen many companies come up especially in the manufacturing sector.

Afrifoam’s immediate competitors like Rwanda foam (mattresses) and Ameki color (paints) are the biggest sellers in the market, but Afrifoam says that by maintaining quality and services, they are able to compete effectively.

Afrifoam’s mattresses and Simaco wall paints have made a big impression on quality. Many residents, who have used these products, say that the products are worthy the costs.

“The paints actually last longer and are good for building and opacity. I don’t have to worry about the re-paint, not until over a year after using these paints” one paint client, Jerome Tuyishime says.

Another client, Agnes Mukamana, who has been using Afrifoam mattresses for the last two years says that the mattress has been very helpful. “I have not had problems the mattress especially that I have children who wet the beds every evening, and my husband who has a back problem nolonger complains of the problem ever since we started using the Afrifoam mattresses” Mukamana says.

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About the author

Olive Ndaka is the Junior Editor for RwandaEye. An investor and young entrepreneur, she is a quick learner and has contributed many articles for RwandaEye in Kinyarwanda.

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