Finding your niche in the world of entrepreneurship is always the challenge, but for Annie Muronda, founder of Rufaro Garments, she has found that niche by manufacturing quality branded uniforms for her clients.
LoA chatted with founder Annie Muronda this month to find out more.
What does your company do?
Rufaro Garments manufactures and supplies branded uniforms and marketing materials to schools and corporates in South Africa and the wider SADC region. We custom design innovative uniform distribution strategies that deliver tailor made experiences for your client base.
School Shop Model
Rufaro builds and runs custom designed uniform shops at each of our school premises.
Parents may purchase uniforms at our head office/factory.
Our eCommerce platform allows parents to shop online and collect from any one of our stores or get convenient home delivery.
Partnering with Rufaro allows educational institutions to grow their footprint without worrying about uniform distributors. We grow with our clients and go where they go!
"Partnering with Rufaro allows educational institutions to grow their footprint without worrying about uniform distributors. We grow with our clients and go where they go!"
What inspired you to start your company?
I was inspired to start my company when I saw the high cost of school uniforms and realized that good quality uniforms were largely reserved for the elite private schools or former model C schools. My aim was to disrupt this status quo by improving access and reducing costs. In addition, there has been an explosion of affordable school networks in South Africa the last few years. These networks have an aggressive growth strategy and need a similarly aligned partner.
Why should anyone use your service or product?
Five Reasons to Partner with Rufaro Garments
1) Vertically Integrated Manufacturing
We control the entire production process end-to-end meaning that we source the best quality fabrics on the global market place, design attractive uniforms with style and flair. We manufacture strong durable long lasting apparel which can be branded with your school/ corporate logo
2) Our Uniforms cost up to 50% less than major private school suppliers
Because we control the entire production process, we are able to reduce costs by cutting out the middle man and producing uniforms efficiently
3) We design customized distribution models for our clients
Our flagship school shop model is an innovative mechanism for partnering with high growth private school networks. We also distribute direct to parents via our online platform. We design a custom uniform distribution strategy for our client's needs
4) We unlock your brand with stylish uniforms and branded marketing material
We let your students, parents and staff become brand ambassadors with our stylish clothing and marketing materials
5) Innovation around distribution gives us significant footprint
We currently serve 10,000 + students across 2 private school networks in 12 locations across South Africa and this is expected to double in 2018
"Rufaro aims to be Africa's leading source of uniformed brand ambassadors. We aim to dominate the uniform distribution market in South Africa and the wider SADC region and to become a significant player in corporate marketing and branding."
Tell us a little about your team
Rufaro is led by myself, as Managing Director. I am supported by my partner Farai who is the custodian of our strategy and is responsible for capitalizing the business and managing relationships with funders and key stakeholders. Farai is a qualified actuary with 15 years of strategic leadership experience in global financial services. Our manufacturing operations are managed by our factory manager Ellen who oversees day to day production of school uniforms. Ellen is passionate about establishing Rufaro as a leader in the African manufacturing renaissance, competing on an equal footing with global competitors. Our retail operations are led by Daisy who is the custodian of our customer service and retail experience strategy. The team is grounded and coordinated by myself. As managing director, I utilize my 10 years of leadership experience in financial services consulting to coordinate our executive team, cultivate strategic relationships with suppliers and clients and manage the financial and operational performance of the organisation.
Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?
My entrepreneurial journey began in an unlikely place, a large financial services consulting company. I worked for two global financial services consulting services when I lived in the USA. Whilst there I was exposed to how companies grow and maintain their global brands and how systematic processes held everything together. As a senior consultant selling my time for a large firm, I felt the bug to expand beyond my comfortable confines. I felt that I was not living up to my full potential and there was a way I could use the skills I had acquired both professionally and personally to impact real change.
"Being an entrepreneur has been life changing. It has opened my world and view point, I feel I am more connected to the world around me."
What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?
Rufaro aims to be Africa's leading source of uniformed brand ambassadors. We aim to dominate the uniform distribution market in South Africa and the wider SADC region and to become a significant player in corporate marketing and branding.
What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?
Being an entrepreneur has been life changing. It has opened my world and view point, I feel I am more connected to the world around me, I ask even more questions than I did before as I try to not only solve our business challenges but personal ones as well. I derive the most satisfaction when I see our clients wearing our uniforms or utilizing our marketing materials. As we continue to grow, and improve our products, services and how our clients interact with us it gives me pleasure to know we make things, we create something from nothing and that we can and we must do the difficult things.
What's the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?
To have a vision or a dream that is bigger than their wildest dream, the big hairy audacious dream. This will help you whether the storms that you will surely face. Measure your processes, you can't improve what you don't measure and you cant price your product or service appropriately without it. Set processes around money i,e. how money is received and paid, the better you manage money the more money you get to manage. Finally get professional help. You can't do it alone, there are areas where you are weak or simply don't have time to do. Get help so that you can focus on growing the business.
Contact or follow Rufaro Garments
Why LoA loves it….
Doing things differently in business can create new and exciting opportunities, and that is definitely what Annie Muronda is doing with her rapidly growing branded uniform manufacturing company. Her approach to innovative and customer centric product distribution systems, combined with world class manufacturing standards, are giving her the competitive edge. The future looks incredibly bright for this enterprising business and brand builder, and her company Rufaro Garments. --- Melanie Hawken, founder and editor-in-chief of Lionesses of Africa