What started as Imprimerie de Kigali in 1984 is today a leading company in the printing industry in Rwanda.
It was renamed Printex in 2010, after the new Managing Director Gilles Mporanyi took over the modernization, and drive to implement the latest equipment and technologies focusing on high quality printed products and a better customer service.
With a goal to reach out regionally, the owners have invested heavily in modern equipment, advanced training and recently in a new facility at the Special Economic Zone, which made Printex not only the biggest but also the first printing company in Rwanda to employ environmentally friendly, world-class machines similar to those used in Europe.
We met up with Mr. Mporanyi, who shared insights into the story of Printex.
Below are the excerpts;
TSM: Please share the history of Printex and how you have been able to provide the best of services over the years.
Mporanyi: Printex was created in 2010 after taking over the assets of Imprimerie de Kigali. It is a family-owned company and in 2010, it had reached a point where we needed to invest more considering the growing need for printing in Rwanda because all the big printing jobs were done outside the country, mainly in Uganda, Kenya and Dubai.
Printex started with a modernization of the Printery with new machines and the complete refurbishment of the old ones. This was intended to target clients who were previously printing from outside the country; these clients needed to see that we could print the same or even better quality than they had obtained outside.
When we felt we had somewhat achieved this target, we then focused on growing the client numbers by increasing our production capacity. That is when we started constructing our new world class facility at the Kigali Special Economic Zone. This has helped us to focus on printing for the region as well because countries such as Burundi and the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) lack such printing facilities.
The new facility enabled us to quadruple the space we had and allowed us to specialize in printing of textbooks for local or regional schools. We strongly believe that books for Rwandans should be printed in Rwanda and not outside the country as they used to be.
We now work with a number of local publishers and two years ago we won the biggest tender – printing 2.2 million books for all primary schools in Rwanda. The project, financed by the USAID was one of a kind because we had to print, distribute and report to USAID and the Rwanda Education Board (REB) at the same time. The distribution was also done in record time of one and a half months thanks to our good organization. It would have taken other firms probably three months.
Recently we won a tender in Malawi, our vision to expand into the region is coming to reality. We are currently the biggest printer in Rwanda in terms of production and export capacity and we can say that we are proudly a ‘Made in Rwanda’ brand serving Rwanda and the region.
TSM: Apart from books, what else do you print?
Mporanyi: We print all paper-based materials ranging from posters, fliers, books, business cards, reports and magazines.
TSM: What would you say about quality?
Mporanyi: We have the best quality in the region because we are the only facility equipped with such machines.
We invested US$ 2.5 million in the machines and clients are always highly satisfied with the quality that comes from them, which is what matters most.
TSM: Apart from the tenders you’ve won in Rwanda and the region, are there any corporate clients you’ve worked with in the past?
Mporanyi: Actually, we have three types of clients, the Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), government institutions and the corporate companies.
We work with 90% of all the commercial banks, insurance firms among others in Rwanda.
TSM: What makes clients choose Printex over other printers?
Mporanyi: We have a good structure, apart from the quality, we have good customer relationships and put emphasis on our delivery times, which I would say are our strong points. If we tell you two days, we keep our word.
Our after sales services are also the best in a way that if a client is not happy about anything, we try to make things right. As a result, we have increased our client base exponentially since 2010 because we have increased our value in the market.
TSM: What have you done to increase awareness to those that still print from outside the country yet they can do the same here more affordably?
Mporanyi: Though we have a marketing department, I can attest that word of mouth has really been key to our growth. We let our quality speak for itself so that clients keep on referring us to others.
We also have sales people who go around town looking for clients.
Additionally, we recently entered a partnership with a large European media company called Burda East Africa, who acquired 25% of Printex. It is a subsidiary of Burda International that makes up to US$ 3billion a year and has some of the biggest printing facilities in Germany, France and India.
Burda East Africa will not only help Printex grow financially but also enable us grow further to other markets.
TSM: With the new partnership, how are you looking to expand to other media?
Mporanyi: We want to go more into digital printing, which is growing in demand in the country.
In addition to the financial capacity, Burda East Africa has over 100 years of experience that they can share with us. They are here to help us grow from being a small and medium enterprise (SME) to a proper industrial company.
This will involve a lot of restructuring, good planning, getting the right technicians to maintain the machines in a better way and carry out trainings to our staff.
TSM: Speaking about the affordability of printing at Printex, how would you say you are competitive compared to other markets such as Kenya where people have printing?
Mporanyi: We are actually cheaper or at the same level as other printers in Kenya and Uganda because to print from outside, you have to add transportation and taxes. I would say that people print from outside for various reasons and not necessarily the cost because when it comes to that we have competitive pricing.
TSM: How do you source your paper for printing?
Mporanyi: We source it from abroad and the advantage of partnering with Burda East Africa is that since they are the biggest paper consumer in the world, we have an advantage of working with them thanks to their economies of scale gained from buying large quantities at discounts and selling to us small quantities at the same lower prices.
TSM: How many jobs have you created for Rwandans since Printex was created?
Mporanyi: We have created between 30 to 50 new jobs and our vision is to employ over 100 people by 2020.
We introduced the shift working system for our staff and are the only printing company that works in two shifts at the moment because we hired many young workers who graduated from technical schools with top grades. We are also committed to training them thanks to technicians from our partner.
Thanks to the shift system of working, our production runs over 24 hours a day. This has enabled us to increase our production more than twice over.