Jean Paul Ntezimana, a fresh graduate, had severally tried to find employment from both government institutions and private sector vain. This led him to contemplate new ways of making a living on completion of his tertiary education.
Having known that from starch in potatoes one can produce natural sugar led Ntezimana to start a small enterprise which manufactures wine, juice and biscuits from potatoes.
Ntezimana, 27, from Musanze District is an Agriculture and Food Processing graduate from IPRC-Musanze.
"I had sent a number of job application letters to various institutions but with no positive feedback. I then decided to approach individuals who owned different businesses requesting for a job but was still unsuccessfully." He told Business Times.
How he started out
The idea to start a small enterprise came when his school requested students to come up with proposals based on what courses taken in school.
"In February 2016, I had to think of a subject for my proposal which would be profitable not only to me but also to the general public and that's when I decided to exploit potatoes after through research. I carried out research on the internet and found it unexploited in terms of the making of wine or juice," he explained.
While learning more about potatoes, Ntezimana said he applied formulas from various books to ensure he comes up with quality products which is safe for human consumption.
"Normally starch from potato are very strong as they are bonded carbohydrates, therefore it requires me to put potatoes in warm water for a while and then grind them in a machine to produce glucose," he said. While explaining how he obtains the sugar which is among the top ingredients to manufacture wine and juices.
Making of wine and juices requires other ingredients apart from the sugar whereby Ntazimana uses pineapple and other fruits to come up with a concentrated product.
Ntezimana explained that 5kg of potatoes produces 15 litres of juice while the same input produces 1 litre of wine. He produces 33cl bottle of juice sold at Rwf500 and 75 cl bottle of wine is sold at Rwf4, 000.
His enterprise produces about 500 litres of wine per month and around 50 litres of red wine depending on the demand.
After producing juice and wine from potatoes Ntezimana then makes biscuits from the residue of potatoes. A box of his biscuits goes at Rwf500.
He says that makes at least Rwf1 million monthly from which he pays his four employees leaving him with a take home of about Rwf 500,000 which he considers as his salary.
Ntezimana said he is also carrying out research to establish possibilities of producing bio-oil out of potatoes' shell which can be used as an alternative to fuel.
The young innovator has also applied for the copyrights of his products in a bid to prevent the duplication and is also working to fulfil the requirements to get quality approvals from Rwanda Standard Board.
Ntezimana said he is still facing scarcity of modern equipment and machinery used in the production of juice and wine.
Ntezimana's project won the first place in the 2017 YouthConnekt Awards in Northern Province taking home a Rwf1 million.