CAPTION: Shanant shows some of the spice products. PHOTO: FDB.
A science experiment during high school chemistry 13 years ago inspired Shanant Ram so much that he decided what he learnt then would someday be turned into a profitable enterprise.
“In one of our chemistry experiments, we made soap and it really got me thinking because the process was very simple. I thought to myself this was something I needed to seriously pursue when I have the resources,” Shanant said.
After high school, Shanant pursued a diploma in civil engineering at the Fiji National University graduating in 2004 after which he returned home to Labasa to help his father Ram Pyare in the family business. Father and son combined forces and expanded the washtub business to include manufacturing concrete and garden blocks.
Pyare Industries Ltd was established by the elder Ram in 1997. The business started with a $5,000 investment from savings set aside from manufacturing washtubs at home which the elder Ram pursued outside of his regular day job with a local hardware company.
In 2008, the company ventured into the construction industry trading as Pyare Construction utilising Shanant’s civil engineering background in the process securing a few contracts with state, municipal and statutory bodies.
Even as the business progressed, Shanant, now a director the company, never lost his sight of his goal to manufacture soap someday.
“It was a very humble beginning for the family. All of our businesses started from our home in Korowiri – block and brick making, washtubs and now washing soaps. We even make Ezy cook spices from time to time,” Shanant said.
“In 2010 I decided to start with the manufacturing of soap. I had surveyed the market and there was a need for washing soap made from local materials which can be sold at cheaper prices. Since leaving school in 2002, I had been doing more experiments and trials on making soap until I was satisfied with the outcome.”
In March 2012, Shanant approached the Fiji Development Bank for a loan to start his soap manufacturing.
Financed under the bank’s commercial loans facility, he was provided working capital which enabled him to pay for the purchase of material inputs such as fragrance, colour and coconut oil as well as packaging material and labour costs.
The simple process of producing his soap led him to brand it ezy wash basic soaps.
“There’s quite a demand for our soaps which is retailed in all of the major supermarkets and stores here in the northern division,” he said.
Retailing at $2.50 a bar, the washing soap is affordable and hugely popular with rural customers in the north because of its ability to lather in hard water. He also continues to look at ways to improve the product.
“We ensured that our soap lathers well with hard water to suit those in the rural areas as a lot of them wash their clothes in the rivers and creeks. I understood what was needed and I designed this soap to accommodate the needs of our rural dwellers,” Shanant said.
“The additional income from the soap business has really boosted our family business. Washing soap is a product used every day which makes it a viable business operation. The business is helping meet our family needs as well as providing a few luxuries we didn’t have growing up.”
The company offers employment to as many as 15 people when in full operation, a number that is expected to increase once adequate land is secured to relocate operations from the family residence where it is currently based.
It also provides corporate social support through sponsorship to various community based sports and social clubs.
The company has plans to venture into the production of bathing soaps and is already in talks with FDB on their development plans.