- Broke, unemployed and with no prospects in sight, Sandra Letitio was forced to create a job for herself. Having realised that if she wanted a job she would need to create one herself, she was determined to make clean, great products and Pelere was born, writes Edgar R. Batte.
A good business idea, an execution plan and initial capital are some of the basics to get a business up and running. A good name is equally important. When Sandra Letitio was ready to begin running a business, she sought her father’s advice on the name.
This was after trying a couple of names only for Uganda Registration Service Bureau officers to tell her they were already reserved or taken. From her father’s list of names, she settled for ‘Pelere’, which means awesome, great, wonderful, beautiful and clean.
All the meanings reflected the ideals she wanted to embody as an entrepreneur. Her business idea was to start a manufacturing plant to produce detergents, organic cosmetics, personal care and food related products.
Finding purpose in distress
The motivation for the idea was a counter reaction to her desperation. Since graduation, Letitio had searched for jobs in vain. As the years went by, she began to feel the economic pinch since as a graduate she could not rely on pocket money. One day, she turned to her mother in distress and shared with her about the hard time she was going through.
“My mother then suggested I should talk to one of our neighbours who makes soap. I contacted the person and after a chat. I asked him to teach me how to make soap,” she recollects.
The neighbour was a staff member at the Uganda Industrial Research Institute and was qualified in soap manufacturing. He explained that there are so many soap products on the market and if she wanted to stand out, she would need something unique.
“After my research, I realised there were few shea nut products so I went for it,” Letitio relates.
The brand name Pelere produces 10 products. These include multipurpose liquid detergent, dish washing soap, hand wash, hair shampoo, and Embrace organic cosmetics which include shea butter, fragrance, lip balm, aftershave, hair pomade, hair oil and bathing soap.
The Pelere factory has two branches, one in Nakabugo-Bbira, in Wakiso District and another along Ring Road in Gulu District. Letitio’s clientele has grown with time as people begin to understand the benefits of shea butter.
What makes her tick?
The cosmetic entrepreneur is keen on keeping financial records. DFCU bank has been instrumental in training her and her team on proper book keeping and financial management. “Proper book keeping and finance management are a very important aspect of business. They are the foundation since your finances indicate the health of the company,” she adds.
Another core aspect of business, according to Letitio, is marketing the product. She has learnt to market her products using social media platforms, at local exhibitions and of word of mouth.
“I am also engaged in door-to-door marketing and I make deliveries to offices and homes. All transactions are done in the bank, apart from petty cash. For my distribution, I deal with wholesalers, retailers, distributors and final consumers,” the entrepreneur explains.
Choosing the right team
While choosing her team, she says she is keen on working with professionals at all times and complying with the laws in order to run her business smoothly.
She adds, “Your network is your net worth. Associate with the right people and remember to always pray to God. Never give up.”
Letitio starts her day with a prayer before taking a glass of water. She then feeds her mind with some spiritual verses from the Bible. She reports to work after this, depending on her to-do list for the day.
Letitio plans on increasing productivity by acquiring production machines and modern equipment. She dreams of distributing Pelere products worldwide. She would also like to give back to the less fortunate by sponsoring their education to improve their chances of fending for themselves.
Letitio finds joy in inspiring others which motivates her to work hard. She, therefore, believes in leading by example.
“I only teach what I do. That means more leaders than followers are created,” she explains.
Her parents are her source of inspiration because they taught and mentored her into a resourceful citizen through imparting in her values of hard work, generosity, prayer and honesty.
She grew up following the story of the Ugandan entrepreneur James Mulwana who used innovation to grow as a businessman, and created a legacy that lives on.
Prior to founding Pelere, Letitio was broke, unemployed and unable to find a job. With the help of Uganda Industrial Research Centre, she launched a cosmetic line.