Today marks the launch a NEW blog series!
It’s called ‘Five Minutes’ and in each upload, we will interview a founder of a social enterprise, NGO or business. In this article, Yusuf Kasumba takes to the stage to give us insight into his social enterprise, Roperfree.
Roperfree are partners with Fight Malaria and produce mosquito repellents and Aromatherapy oils. Their products are able to purchase via the Fight Malaria site!
Without further ado, let’s get started! This is Five Minutes with Yusuf Kasumba, on the Fight Malaria Blog.
Q: What is your biggest life lesson or key takeaway from this interview that you would like to stick with readers?
The biggest life lesson, I may say that to be privileged and selected to share my views to the large internet users about my passion and why I am into Roperfree Brand Products which is a Ugandan enterprise manufacturing and selling Roperfree mosquito repellents and aromatherapy delivered from natural herbs with infusion of essential oils. To be honest I do not regard it as key takeaway but key contributor for the good causes because life is the most precious treasure and there is no price tag!
I would like to stick with the topic of malaria: cause and effects because malaria is still a big challenge in developing countries especially the Sub Saharan countries where I was born and raised. I think charity begins at home; if I can contribute something to save many lives that would be the most satisfying job in whatever job I have done.
Q: Briefly tell us what Roperfree is.
Roperfree is a Uganda based company which started manufacturing and distributing mosquito repellents and Aromatherapy with pure essential oils under the brand name of Roperfree. It was started out of passion to save lives. We envision a world where no one dies from a mosquito bite and our goal is to achieve what would be one of the greatest humanitarian accomplishments- ending malaria within our generation.
Q: Can you tell us more about yourself? What is your passion?
I would like to talk as Roperfree not as a person because as a team we have been able to achieve by position ourselves as a company passion to fight malaria by contributing the availability now online and at our store in Kampala the mosquito repellents which were almost non existence in Uganda. Roper free mosquito was started virtually by mistake during one of my visit in Uganda in 2010 I wanted to buy a mosquito repellent but I failed to get the one which could be user friendly to satisfy my mind. I got a stick roll on after a long search from many supermarkets in Kampala City. So the one I bought was so sticky chalky masks on my skin and I felt very uncomfortable and to add salt to injury its smell was very unpleasant to me and could not roll on well on the whole body and face. So when I returned to Canada and by then I had started my Diploma course in Humber College doing Business Marketing and during one of the course in marketing our professor mentioned that a good business entrepreneur now has to look into challenges and turn them into opportunities, so the challenge of getting a good mosquito repellent pushed me to start my own repellents. So the challenges were turned into opportunities!
Q: What advice would you give to others wanting to start a social enterprise or nonprofit organization?
To have passion in what they want to do. Not to focus on money immediately but to put all their energies into building their enterprise.
To draw a plan because that would be a blue print which could guide them to reach where they are supposed to go
They have to be persistence and follow their dream and not be deterred by challenges.
Turn every challenge into opportunity
Not to give up easily and to believe in what they are doing.
To envision that one day success will strike
Get a strong team which believes in your dream.
As we are living in dynamic world it is good to learn new methods and technique to match the trend.
Integrity, commitment and hardworking should be the order of the day. “Quitters never win”
Surrounding themselves with people who are positive thinkers and who can add value to their organization- Such as now Fight Malaria is adding value by positioning our products and cause online which is causing global awareness by the power of the internet
Read inspiring stories of success such as Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg Nelson Mandela, Anita Ruddick of Body shop, Barrack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Donald Trump or Yoweri Museveni, the current president of Uganda now. The list goes on but once you read above personality you realize that they have one thing in common, that they believed in themselves
Q: What were your biggest challenges up until now?
I could say the biggest challenges are over though starting a new company focusing on a new product in the market from innovation could be very big challenging.
Another challenge, no one including my family members could understand very well my vision and dreams most thought I am a day dreamer, they believed that if my dream materialised it is going to make a big positive impact to the world especially to countries with mosquitoes. Most believed in me but they were puzzled why should I care so much to invest money, time and capital to do something which other people never thought of. So having one man vision could be quite challenging because no one could see the vision except the innovator.
Q: What are your happiest moments with Roperfree?
There so many happiest moments of Roperfree but to mentioned a few; I was Uganda last year in June 2017 when I received a phone call from one the local television channels in Uganda called Delta TV that they want to interview me about my Roperfree mosquito repellents including other businesses I am involved in so as to inspire the nation. I was thrilled because I started to see the fruits of Roperfree that it making a positive impact on the society;
Another happy moment is when we took our products to the government testing and the results were. superb and the government chemists involved in the testing of our products said that they have never tested such a products which has showed good results and mentioned that they found an ingredients which is very useful to human being but declined to tell us further also the evaluation of our products from National Drug Authority- Uganda who also approved our product further said that it is such an excellent product with no serious side effects during their findings.
Further to that, my mom who was always getting bouts of malaria because she felt suffocated using mosquito nets throughout the night once started using it she has made malaria history in her life. With all that I feel that the most important happiest moment is to save my mom’s life from malaria. Other things are not important as my mom’s health. Saving her from malaria is one of the most important achievements I have ever got in life and she is proud of Roperfree.
Q: What future do you hope to create through your work with Roperfree?
We are hoping Roperfree to be part of free distribution in malaria kit our mosquito repellent to combat malaria in Uganda.
Currently, Roperfree is in touch with National malaria control Program which is a government board to eliminate malaria in Uganda which is sensitising about appropriate net use with a notion which says ” Ugandans should ensure they sleep under a mosquito net every night and embrace cleanliness”
The Nation Malaria Control Program is showing interest and we shall be meeting them in near future for further discussion. Roperfree is advocating that mosquito nets are good solutions but they cannot work alone or sufficient enough as many people go to sleep in their bed nets after bitten by mosquitoes, so to eliminate this scenario, mosquito repellents have to be embraced too and our proposal is to include our repellent in distribution of free malaria kits to the public if the cost is too high then start with the most vulnerable people such as; children, pregnant mothers, the elderly and the sick plus the disables.
The future of Roperfree will be the household name of Uganda, the brand ambassador product of Uganda to the other countries.
A global brand name penetrating other countries with serious marketing campaigns as it is doing now and we want to position ourselves as having one of the best mosquito repellents and Aromatherapy in the world.
Q: How can readers participate in helping you achieve this future?
I would like the readers to understand that we are here for the good cause and malaria still number killer disease in sub Saharan Africa so if they can support by buying Roperfree mosquito repellent they will be supporting to save lives because life has no price tag. It does not matter whether they are going to use the mosquito repellents themselves but we are open to sponsorship whereby someone could buy mosquito repellents say online and donate to the vulnerable our team would be able to deliver the mosquito repellents accompanied with video clips and updates so that the sponsor can know that his/her money was used for the good cause. We would like readers to start buying for the good cause.
On the other hand, the readers to buy our mosquito repellents and aromatherapy because at the end of the day despite being in a campaign of the good cause but the cost have to be met so that we could continue delivering our products and services smoothly and readers should share our blog viral because that is how we could target those who are in need.
N.B. Responses to the questions shown above have been dubbed by Phyllis Nakayiza Kasumba in the audio version of this article.