It took a few recurring bouts of typhoid and consistent visits to the hospital before Frank Munguriek discovered that impure water was the cause of his health problems.
This led him to unlock a lucrative business in water sanitation. Munguriek ventured into using water purifiers for three months. Upon discovering how effective they were, he decided to share the solution with others.
In 2019, Munguriek and a friend started the Sparkling Drop and began importing water purifiers from Asia, to sell in Uganda. Within a few months, their clientele grew in the urban centers and business profit rose from Shs 1.5 million to Shs 4.5 million. Along their business journey, they encountered a customer from Mubende who cited the limitation of the water purifiers that they were selling. This made them to re-think their business strategy.
“Mubende is a mining community with a lot of mining activity. As a result many of the water outlets are contaminated with visible muddy particles. The imported water purifiers were not effective for muddy water. This is when we decided to make our own purifiers suitable for mining areas.”
With a lot of research and consultation, Munguriek began working on making water purifiers suitable for communities with unique problems like Mubende. For two years now, Sparkling Drop has provided water purifiers to ensure clean and safe drinking water to the gold mining communities in Mubende thus improving the health conditions of the people in that area.
The Sparkling Drop idea took shape in August 2020 after joining Starthub Africa Academy in August 2020. Before then, Munguriek says the business faced challenges such as an ineffective business model, high marketing costs vis-à-vis returns, limited expertise in the sector, incompetent team, little innovation skills and inadequate client segmentation.
Starthub Africa’s nine weeks program supported Frank to craft a business development plan, conduct market research, provided training in Human-centered Design and guidance in building a strong marketing strategy in which he has been able to build his team to 3 people to ease the work production and distribution of the water purifiers. By the end of 2020, Sparkling Drop had realized a rise in revenue from 1.5 million to 4.5 million.
Despite the margin in profit and capacity built in making water purifiers, the first lockdown of 2020 paused a challenge in the continuity and growth of the business.
According to Munguriek, “When ports closed, many shipping companies closed shop and the excise duty on imports rose incredibly. This greatly had a setback into the business. Most of our goods got stuck in Mombasa and we had to pay more in taxes than the initial cost spent in procuring the products themselves.” Munguriek narrates
He adds, “we had to put the business scaling plans on pause and opened up another business in the food industry to generate more revenue that was used to inject income into Sparkling Drop business to revive it.”
Regardless of these challenges, Munguriek’s training and experience at StartHub had equipped him with viable skills to innovate and understand the market dynamics in times of rapid change or disruption. While he juggles with his entrepreneurship hustle, Munguriek continues to pursue his four year Bachelor’s degree at Kyambogo University that will qualify him as an automobile engineer.
The challenges experienced by Munguriek can be surmounted through joint efforts within the innovation ecosystem.
In 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Innovation Village in partnership with The Mastercard Foundation put in place the COVID-19 rebound program to foster business recovery and resilience of the youth that had been affected by COVID-19.
Working with several implementing partners, The Innovation Village provided funds and technical support to organizations like StartHub Africa which has since then provided support to 441 entrepreneurs and incubated 30 startups in a period of six months.
It’s through joint efforts such as the above that brilliant innovations like Munguriek’s will survive to impact society to the capacity that they are intended to.