BY XOLILE BHENGU, APRIL 02 2012, 10:56
Vitabiotics SA MD Chomba Chuma doesn’t regret switching careers from medical doctor to businessman. While working for a multinational pharmaceutical company, the Kenya-born doctor saw an opportunity in the SA market to start a company supplying complementary medicines.
“I started up with my own capital, buying Vitabiotics products from the UK and selling them in SA.” Chuma then formed a joint venture with Vitabiotics UK with capitalization of £100,000.
“It was simple but not easy. I made a solid case for SA and Africa as a market but the perceptions about Africa always weigh down on business decisions. However, after the first year and with excellent results it became easier,” he says. “Complementary medicines are huge in Kenya and Nigeria, where the market covers a wider group of products including herbs, homeopathy and traditional preparations.
However, Vitabiotics is in the vitamin & mineral supplements market, which is more scientifically refined.” He hopes the industry will eventually be regulated in the way that scheduled medicines are. Vitabiotics UK owns 80% of the SA business, which employs 13 staff and distributes more than 50 products through Clicks.
Chuma expects turnover of R15m for 2010 and is aiming for a bigger slice of the estimated R3bn market. “People usually base their affinity on either their knowledge of the company or the product; we want to see if we can combine the two.”
This article can be accessed from http://www.financialmail.co.za/fm/2010/11/11/entrepreneur—chomba-chuma