Monday, September 13, 2010

When misfortune ignites creativity

Robert Kisutu holding the main ford and a break block for Nissan heavy duty vehicles
Robert Kisutu holding the main ford and a break block for Nissan heavy duty vehicles
By David Ssempijja

IN 1993, Robert Kisitu experienced the world of �darkness� as he saw his future being threatened after the death of his father.
This blow shaped him into a very creative individual.

�I was 17 years when my father died. He was not a rich man on whose resources I would depend. I knew it was time to fly by my own �wings�. I had no other option than turning myself into a slave of my works,� says Kisitu.

Now aged 33, Kisitu attained a vocational certificate in motor applied engineering in 2000 and worked in the motor repair induction at Spear Motors.

He later joined the Pioneers Easy Bus up to 2005 after which he embarked on a journey to his own business, leading to the establishment of Pioneer Foundry Technologies (PFT) in 2006 through which he has unveiled the power of innovation.

The level of technological advancement exhibited by PFT workforce is a clear testimony that given the necessary support, Uganda�s appropriate technology would have the capacity to lead the country�s import substitution strategy.

Located on Mambule Road in Bwaise, a Kampala suburb, the company is involved in metal and aluminum casting from scrap, a major raw material for their products.

The firm fabricates motor wheel alignment machines, motor vehicle spare parts like heavy duty main fords for Isuzu and Nissan brands, spring blocks for trailers, heavy duty Fuso door steps, industrial parts like fire bars for tea processors, screen welders and howling plates for coffee and maize factories.

�We are also popular for manufacturing manhole covers, gear drives for concrete mixers, weighing scale stones, sugarcane crushers and gymnasium weights. In most cases, customers name their needs and we do the fabrication,� he says.

�You will be surprised that some of our fabricated parts can be twice as good as the original vehicle or industrial parts can serve,� Kisitu brags.

According to Simon Ssekankya of the Ntinda based giant hardware world, heavy duty customised manhole covers locally manufactured by PFT attract impressive demand from his range of corporate and individual clients involved in construction business.

�All this young man�s business establishment needs is to build capacity such that he produces volumes that can satisfy the available market demand, otherwise his products have consistently received approval from users,� he said.

Other firms that PFT has worked for include Rwenzori Commodities, Castle Estates, Dott Services, Tororo Cement, Sembule Steel Mills, Parambot Breweries, Associated Scale Company and Papco Industries.

Kisitu asserts that he envisages nurturing a company of high productivity, competitive enough to firmly position itself and withstand the challenges in the liberalised East African Community market.

Company products especially weighing scale machines have been exported to Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Enterprise achievements
Kisitu�s biggest achievement has been seeing other people depend on his vision to survive.

The firm directly employs 28 people in addition to the thousands of residents of Bwaise and surrounding areas who sell scrap to the company.

�The original plan was to find a way of how I would secure my future, but in due course many people have earned a living from here, no success will ever be bigger than that,� he adds.

Though Kisitu is a certificate holder, his business establishment has on a number of occasions served as a point of reference to many advanced researchers involved in technological enterprises and various universities have posted their students to PFT for industrial training.

Last year, he won the construction award during the highly competitive annual Young Achievers Awards organised by TETEA Uganda and National Chamber of Commerce and Industry to reward creative young entrepreneurs whose works have been of significant benefit to society.

�We also started talks with Kyambogo University , a deal which is expected to see us establish a mentorship programme for students pursuing technology-based courses,� he says.

Given the fact that metal and aluminum scrap is the most important raw materials for fabricators, the advent of exporting it to China and India has hiked its prices.

�We used to buy a kilogramme of metal scrap at sh100, after exports began in 2007, a kilogramme now costs between sh500-sh600. For the sake of protecting local industries, government should put a stop on this trend to save the country from losing more than it gains from the same,� Kisitu advises.

�PFT lacks capacity to establish an automated processing line, which leads to delays in delivering orders. But President Museveni asked us during one of the exhibitions to send him a proposal of what we want to do which we did and are waiting for his response,� said Kisitu.

He adds that it would be developmental if government starts arrangements for exempting promising young enterprises from tax payments in order to uplift their capacities to grow.

Future plans
In the short run, given financial resources, the firm intends to have its own land for expansion and set up a showroom in the city centre.

�We are also planning to venture into glass manufacturing. This is an enterprise whose raw materials are locally available. We have the human capital but the resources like machinery to turn them into finished products are hard to get,� he said.

�If government boosts our capacity, Uganda could easily be an industrialised country because there is no other magic used in industrialised countries like China and Japan than the zeal and passion for working hard coupled with the undying curiosity to learn continuously, says Kisitu.

No comments: