Kampala, Oct 2 (IANS) Kiboko Group, an industrial house run by Indians here, representing global giants like Philips and Proctor & Gamble, is expanding its reach from east Africa to the central and western regions, along with a warehousing facility in India to source merchandise, top officials said.
"We are exploring opportunities in central and west African countries. Our target is to go pan-Africa," said Rasik Shah, director of Kiboko Group, a top distributor of fast-moving consumer goods, electronics, farm equipment and pharmaceuticals in Uganda.
"Many of our suppliers are from India. To facilitate the business we will also soon open warehousing facilities there," Shah, who controls 25 percent stake in the company, told IANS, on the margins of an event to mark 20 years of Kiboko Group in Uganda.
Headquartered in Kampala, the group is run by four Indian entrepreneurs, who control equal stakes. Besides Uganda, the company operates in several east African countries like Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania.
"Our group is trying to strengthen its position and is aspiring to seek leadership in the domains it operates in the east African region," said Sanjeev Gupta, chief executive of Kiboko Enterprises, a unit of the group.
"We will continue to invest our human capital, technology and distribution capabilities to maximize the market opportunities," he said, adding that talks were on with many global brands for distribution partnerships in Uganda and other east African countries.
Kiboko Group has interests in manufacturing and distribution. It deals in several global brands such as Procter & Gamble, Philips, Himalayas, Global Tea, Godrej, Regal and Zydus Cadilla and Gillette, among others.
Last week, the group created a record by spreading the world's largest carpet of nearly 300,000 Safeguard anti-bacterial soaps on a vast ground here, to raise awareness about sanitation and hygiene in Uganda.
The event marked the 20th anniversary of the group here and the soap bars used to set the record will be given away free to children in some 200 schools across Uganda, among others, as part of the group's health and sanitation campaign.
"We started in 1992 with three employees and hardly any capital. Today, we are doing multi-billion dollar business. We also employ more than 800 people," said Chuni Shah, chairman of the group.
Ramesh Babu, managing director of Kiboko Group, said the company was expecting at least 20 percent compounded annual growth in the coming years, despite some "challenges and security concerns".
"We are expecting excellent growth in our existing markets. Penetration in other markets will also accelerate growth," added Praful Shah, the fourth stake holder in the group.
He said counterfeiting and circulation of fake products were among the big challenges facing Kiboko, since it deals with global brands like Philips, Procter and Gamble and Gillette that have a great recall value not just in east Africa but globally.
As per information with the Indian mission here, there are around 22,000 Indian nationals and people of Indian origin in Uganda. The Indian and Indian-run companies are the second largest investors in Uganda, estimated at $1 billion in the past two decades.
(Gyanendra Kumar Keshri can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)