Having worked as a banker for 13 years in Rwanda, Emmanuel Uwimana felt it was time to consider self-employment and wanted to venture into something he was passionate about.
He quit his job in 2018, and after a few months started a business in hospitality and transportation, which he says earned him peanuts, just for survival.
“I felt an emptiness, I knew I yearned for something better, but I hadn’t discovered it – something worthwhile, beyond just a business,” he says.
Then one day Uwimana came across a Bible scripture in Proverbs 27:9, which says, “Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart, so the sweetness of a man’s friend with warm counsel.” The first part of the scripture especially caught his attention, just knowing that a good perfume can excite the heart.
“I was eager to find out how I could pass a scent to people to mark their occasions, and the idea of scented candles crossed my mind. I didn’t know how they were made, but I made a few researching on the internet I found out how scented candles boost mood and how they are made, and I was sure it was something I could try,” he says.
Uwimana notes that he enrolled in an online course at a UK-based institute known as the Center of Excellence and completed a degree in the candle-making business in January 2021. He always does because it has nine modules.
He says that since he yearned for hands-on training, he opted for another candle-making course in Dubai for two weeks, to learn practical skills in the same year. There he made his first candle and never looked back.
Behind the candle making process.
Back in Rwanda, he continued to practice. In May 2021, he created a company “Kigali Candle house”, which manufactures and sells scented candles.
The entrepreneur says his candles are eco-friendly since they are made from soy wax, a 100% natural wax derived from vegetables called soybeans. He then mixes scents such as lavender rose, cider, lime and basil or uses one scent at a time, depending on customer orders.
Its candles are packaged in recycled glassware, in various colors. According to him, when he first introduced his business to the public, the candles did not sell as expected, as he noticed that most Rwandans did not know the essence of scented candles other than their smell. sweet.
Some of its candles come in different colors and flavors.
“To my surprise, some people had candles in their homes, but used them as decoration because they left them for special occasions. So I started live videos on my Instagram platform where people were asking questions about scented candles, which I answered. I was sure that until Rwandans knew why they needed to buy scented candles, my business was in danger of going bankrupt,” he says.
Some of the challenges he faced were starting a business during the pandemic as most of the hotels he aimed to supply the candles to had not fully returned to normal and suffered losses caused by Covid-19 .
However, as life returns to normal, he has managed to sign contracts with different hotels and event organizers.
So far, Uwimana explains that his business is growing slowly and what fills his heart with joy is doing something he loves and loves.
The entrepreneur further adds that some people find the candles expensive at Rwf15,000 which depending on the materials and quality is worth the price. However, he notes that the price may drop if customers bring their own containers.
He also says that he imports all the raw materials like wax, perfumes and cotton wicks from Europe and Asia, which is expensive.
Uwimana plans to manufacture its own raw materials and export to different countries. He also plans to establish a candle house for all kinds of candles, with various shapes and flavors, used for different purposes for various occasions.
“I also want to switch from glass to clay vessels or other unique materials to attract tourists,” he says.
For him, business came with experience, continuous lessons, patience, challenges, customers and, above all, income.
The entrepreneur points out that burning scented candles can be used in aromatherapy to relieve stress and anger, and boost morale. He recommends placing the candles in the bedroom, living room or bathroom, adding that scented candles also provide a romantic ambiance.
“Scented candles can also boost memory, aid in restful sleep, and can be used for personal customs to effect reflection and relaxation. They are also used by massage therapists to create a tranquil ambiance in therapy rooms. If you’ve had a long stressful day, just light a scented candle, breathe for a few seconds, you’ll feel relaxed and better,” he says.His candles can be purchased online at Iwacu.rw.