via Graduate trades degree for candles – The Zimbabwean 15 June 2015
At 25 years old, Primrose Rusere is financially stable ahead of her peers who are in mainstream employment.
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Peace Leadership and Governance from Africa University in 2007, she failed to get employment and she had to rely on part time jobs with various Non-Governmental organisations (NGOs) for two years.
She realised this was slowing down the achievement of her dreams. So she invested her savings in a candle-making machine. Since then, she has never regretted her decision.
“There are many things people want to achieve in life, but when one depends on a salary alone, it takes one longer than planned. That is why I got my savings and invested in a candle-making machine,” Rusere said in a recent interview.
“I started this business three years ago from my home after a six-month part time course in Harare, where I attained a certificate in making candles, soap and other related products,” she said. It was upon her return from Harare in 2012 that she purchased a candle-making machine and started making candles at the now defunct Mutare Board and Paper Mills premises, under the brand name, Virtuous Candles.
In a tour of her small business she talked of how the candles are made. “We purchase wax, which is sold in boxes of 25kgs. Every round of production consumes 5kgs of candle wax, so you can use a box for five rounds. We make 120 candles per round,” Rusere explained.
The candle-making machine is operated by hand and uses candle wax as a raw material. “I did this because of the erratic supply of electricity, so this is an advantage for us,” she said. “The process starts with preheating the candle wax to melt it. The machine has a steering, which has to be turned so that the vents on the machine are opened so as to enable full size candles to come out.
“So, after the wax is melted, it is poured into these openings to the brim. The machine is connected to a water tank that is opened after the wax is poured in, to solidify the liquid wax into a candle,” she continued.
She added that after 30-40 minutes, the water outlet on the machine is opened to drain the water back to the tank. The wheel is then steered in an anticlockwise direction to push the ready candles out.
“We started with a door-to-door marketing strategy to retailers, but now, through contacts and references, people come to us or call to place their orders,” said Rusere proudly.
Recently, has opened up a shop at the same premises and has permanently employed five employees.
Her candle making business has boomed as a result of incessant power cuts that have been experienced in the country for many years. Her business success has enabled her to not only take care of her family, but also create better livelihoods to her staff that she has employed.
“I am happy that most of my staff members are now earning a living. They are now able to send their children to school and fend for them. This is what I am proud of. Even the employees are happy working here and are able to take something home at the end of the month,” she said.
“Our candles are non-drip and also act as a mosquito repellent. The fact that they are non-drip means they burn for a long time. This is what makes our candles beat the competition on the market,” Rusere added.
She has not kept all this success to herself. Last year she embarked on training other people willing to venture in the same business, especially women for a small fee. “I want to set up a training school for production of candles, soap and detergents. I also plan to invest in a similar machine that makes chocolates,” she dreams on.