Did you know that if you start an engraving company, you can actually build a self-sustaining business? Many Ugandans have ventured into this area because it has proven profitable.
Consumer trends are now changing as Ugandans with an eye for detail are willing to pay for good work.
Engraving as business
According to Nicholas Tenywa, one of the proprietors of Cuffie Designs, engraving is the art of cutting or carving a text or design on the surface of a hard material or object. He notes that the process of engraving involves cutting hard materials, etching them, inscribing on them, creating carvings on them, chiseling and marking on them. These hard materials include wood, metal, stones, plastics, acrylic, paper and tiles.
According to Tenywa, creative engraving is above the normal. It is the art of using your creative mind to come up with different products and ways of offering engraving services. It involves taking risks, ignoring doubts and facing fears. Through creative engraving, Tenywa says you break the routine for the sake of doing something different. Creative engravers map out a thousand different routes to reach their destination.
What is required
Starting this business according to Tenywa, requires passion.
“You have to have the love job if you want to become a creative engraver. You have to challenge yourself every day,” he notes
Secondly, you have to look for inspirations. That is when you will be able to imagine and create engraved products that satisfy your customers’ needs. Then you will offer engraving services in a way that attracts customers to you.
A capital of Shs5 million can start the business which will include a basic engraving machine which can be used in labelling furniture such as office furniture, engraving vehicles such as initials of number plates on mirrors.
However, Tenywa says this capital has to be accompanied with the right skills to execute various jobs. According to Tenywa, some skills are acquired in school but some people who are naturally gifted can also learn on the job.
First, one has to be an artist. The skill of art plays a central role in the business of engraving because it in allow you to pull off serious work.
Secondly, you should be very innovative because this will help differentiate you and your works from other players in the business. He also notes that one has to have a very good handwriting because “some of the engraving is done with just a simple machine to write on the object.”
Mr Tenywa cites a champion’s league trophy that is engraved at the pitch just after the game.
Tenywa says being patient is also a skill in engraving business because the work is not easy to learn and some objects are very delicate.
According to Tenywa, the business is very profitable but it is a bit tricky in Uganda. He says if you haven’t built a legacy with clients, you face a hard time. But those that have made it make lots of profits because the level of investment in the business is low compared to the return on investment.
He also notes that once one procures a large engraving machine like the leather engraving machine which is used to make plaques that are commonly known as awards and key holders, then profits will flow in endlessly. He says other factors held constant, one can hit a profit of Shs10 million in a month or from just one contract.
Tenywa says the business is a high-risk venture especially when you deal with precious materials. He notes that there are cash flow problems.
“Ugandans do not want to pay the worth of the service and this breaks morale of engravers,” he says. Unlike some businesses, it is very hard to build a clientele in this business. Therefore, if one is not patient, the business might not live to see its first birthday.
Modern engraving machines are very pricy and competition is high.
Tenywa says retaining talent is another challenge in this business.
“It is hard to find professionals to employ in this business. Therefore, most people learn on the job and when they get equipped with the skills they take off to set up their own businesses,” he says.