By Paul Ndiho

Last summer, U.S. President Barack Obama’s initiative, the Mandela Washington Fellowship, brought five hundred of Africa’s brightest minds to America, to study, learn new skills, network and return home with new experiences. Since returning to Uganda, one of the fellows has take his start up — cleaning products manufacturing company to new heights. I met with him recently in Kampala. Uganda Soap Factory PKG-2 Uganda Soap Factory PKG-1 Uganda Soap Factory PKG

It’s been said that necessity is the mother of invention. It’s likely that Martian Mugabi thought about that when he started his Kampala-based business, twinkle industries, a cleaning products manufacturing company.  When Mugabi found that many commercial soaps irritated his sensitive skin, he began making his own soap and laundry detergent, free from local materials and palm oil products.  His product line consists of home care products, Multi-Purpose liquid soap that can be used for general purpose cleaning at home.

“It’s a super laundry detergent that has been manufactured to save people money and time. When you use it for clothes, you don’t need bar soap like many people do here. You don’t even need powder soap. You just put the liquid formula we have developed in your water. You mix it up properly. You put your clothes in. You don’t need to soak. You wash your clothes and it comes out clean. It’s a super detergent that can be used both in machines, and it can be used at home with hands.

Regarding his own technical knowledge of the soap making process, Mugabi admits, he doesn’t have any background in organic chemistry–which making soap requires–but he certainly does now.

“This is a concentrated detergent that is anti-bacterial so it kills germs, viruses, bacteria that cause diseases to people at home. It can be used to clean your dishes at home, garments, it can clean the floors, and it can wash your car, clean windows, and general purpose cleaning in the household. If you are looking for a product that is going to give you value, and where we have put all our energy to make sure that we produce a super product that is cost effective and meets the purpose for which you buy products like these, you will find it in here.”

Twinkle Industry products can be found in shops across Kampala and its surrounding areas.  Namanya Ishmael runs one of the stores that sell Twinkle products.  He says that his customers are curious about some of the store’s merchandise.

“These products are newly introduced to the supermarket. But what I have observed is that customers are eager about it. People are asking how it works, where it is produced and who produces it.”

Although there are many body-care products on the market, Martin Mugabi maintains that his business is a small company just trying to make its mark in the marketplace.

For a rising firm like twinkle manufacturing, developing soaps and detergents can be a perfect business opportunity, if you have the right formula and equipment to manufacture the products.  Mildred Awili is the company chemist.

“There’s a range of ingredients that should be included to realize either the thickness or concentration rate. After it is ready, it is left for a period of twelve hours in order for it to mature. At the moment in its current state, it can have a negative reaction on the skin because it is either too acidic or too alkaline. But after twelve hours, you conduct a test using litmus paper. When it is at a Ph between 7-8 which is normal, we then begin packing and placing labels on the products for distribution to clients.”

The local community leaders have praised twinkle industry. Faisal kibirige is the chairman of the village.

“So for us as a community, if a youth like this gentleman starts creating jobs and other things, people who have small shops come and buy the commodity from here and take it to their shops. And it is not expensive if you compare the price to that of other commodities. So as leaders, we have been mobilizing people to start buying the commodities like soap, liquid soap and Vaseline from here.”

Jjingo Ismail, is a youth leader and head teacher at the Sauda junior academy, he says that his school uses the twinkle product for general cleaning. He also credits Martin Mugabi for bringing his services closer to the people — and for creating employment for the youth.

“As a leader, I have tried to mobilize youths to come up with certain projects so that we can help each other in the community such that they can stop being jobless.”

Martin Mugabi also has other pursuits, he is a farmer and that business provides seasonal employment to women and prisoners on work-detail in northeastern Uganda.

Paul Ndiho is a Ugandan – American video journalist/ executive producer, Africa Innovations & Technology based in Washington D.C with interests in innovation, technology and entrepreneurship in Africa. He is passionate about mentorship and developing the next generation of Africa’s young leaders., Facebook: Paul Ndiho and Twitter: @pndiho