AWARD-WINNING entrepreneur Andrew Mupuya was just 16 years old when he decided to take on the world.
In 2008, the Uganda-born teen collected used plastic bottles, sold them to a recycling plant for 28,000 shillings (£5.70) and borrowed 8,000 shillings (£1.65) from his teacher to start YELI Paper Bags, a packaging and manufacturing company producing and marketing handmade eco-friendly paper bags from recycled paper.
Since then, the business has grown extensively and today, at the age of 24, employs 24 people, turning over $170,000 between June 2014 and June 2016.
YELI has made 5.6 million bags that have sold in Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, South Africa, Norway and the US.
Andrew employs 16 people who produce up to 20,000 paper bags each week.
His long list of clients includes restaurants, retail stores, supermarkets, medical centers, as well as multinational companies like Samsung.
“Right now I have 72 clients,” Andrew says. “Ninety per cent of our clients always come back.”
Mupuya’s remarkable achievements and shrewd business skills have been recognized with a number of accolades in recent years. In 2012, Mupuya was the winner of the $30,000 Anzisha Prize, a major award given to young African entrepreneurial leaders who take the initiative to address critical needs in their communities.
He was also listed in Forbes Africa 30 Under 30 of the continent’s most prominent entrepreneurs.