At only 40 years old, Dr. Edward Kazaire is a household name in Uganda largely because of his herbal clinics and health drinks.
Having failed at jobs in the city, he used the UGX 20,000 left as transport back to the village to start doing what made many think he was mad. 14 years later, DR EDWARD KAZAIRE has built a more than 15 billion shillings Business Empire out of herbs.
After graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry in 2002, Kazaire hit the streets and walked his shoes out looking for jobs left and right. “I went to Kampala Pharmaceutical Industries wishing to produce tablets but wasn’t given an opportunity. I tried my luck at National Water and Sewerage Corporation and the only available slot was for volunteering. I went to several other places and it was the same story – no jobs.”
Being the first born out of eight children, Kazaire did not have anyone to pamper him so he had to survive on his own. “I decided to turn myself into a self-styled chemistry teacher and taught in three schools. But payment was only after lots of tears at some schools. A cloud of misery surrounded me. Every day that passed, things were getting tougher and rougher. This was surely not the deal I had made with Jesus. In that frustrating moment, I prayed with a brother called Charles Birungi and I felt God asking me to go back home.
Back to the Village Like a Failure
In Ugandan villages, when you are a graduate and return from the city, everyone expects you to come with some money like you own the machine that makes it. But Kazaire’s story was different. He miserably returned to Buyanja village, in Rukungiri district, with absolutely nothing – no car, no job, no money.
He went to Ndama Catholic Church to spend some time praying. He narrates, “I needed divine intervention so I could know the next step. As I prayed and listened, I realised I was a chemist but did not know how to translate that into success. I needed to figure out how to make functional what I had learnt in school. I went to the dictionary and found three definitions of a ‘chemist’. The first one was “a person studying chemistry”. The second was “a person who teaches chemistry”. The third was “a person who prepares and sells medicine”. This third one touched me in the right place. I put in three more days of prayer about it.”
Many people get great dreams but only a few turn them into reality. Kazaire had a rich idea, but the question was how to turn it into money. That moment came when he was seated in the house and someone crossed carrying a drum, the kind used to prepare waragi. “Suddenly, I remembered my senior one chemistry where we learnt about distillation – the process of separating mixtures. As I turned, I looked at a eucalyptus tree and remembered that I had seen people use its leaves to cure cough. I asked myself, instead of people drinking distilled waragi to forget their problems, why not distil medicine and have them cured? I began to collect eucalyptus leaves and did local distillation. I mixed the oil I extracted and concocted a syrup I called NOCOF. People tasted it and got cured. In fact it turned out to be more powerful than any other cough syrup on the market at the time.” Who wouldn’t want such a kind of syrup?
“So after that first formula, next on my agenda was peptic ulcers which I knew to be a chronic disease. I recalled that in Germany some people had used cabbages to treat chronic peptic ulcers. Yet here we ate them as vegetables. In Zimbabwe blackjack was eaten as a vegetable while in Uganda it was used to treat wounds. Since both plants were edible, I knew the issues of safety were covered and since they were both being used as medication, it meant their healing efficacy was also guaranteed. Hence I used the two herbs to create my second formula that started treating stubborn peptic ulcers.”
Until then, in Uganda, herbs were mainly used by Chinese herbal scientists in towns and illiterate local herbalists and witch doctors who gave herbal medicine a bad image. But here he was, a staunch Christian and a graduate, using herbs to cure disease. Much as it was still at a small scale, he was now sure this was the idea that would turn him into the billionaire he wanted to be, even if no one believed him. So he started spending long hours in the bush collecting all sorts of herbs, a thing that turned him into a subject of mockery, even before villagers who had never seen the light of a blackboard.
He confesses he will never forget the day he passed through a trading centre carrying a sack of herbs and heard a lady laughing uncontrollably. “Eager to know what she was laughing at, I turned only to find she was pointing at me. I was so embarrassed. She claimed I had been bewitched. In that same period, many people convinced my parents to take me to Kisizi Hospital for a mental checkup.”
Much as he had succeeded in creating effective products, Kazaire had not yet started earning big from them. “I could not manage a big machine for extraction, so I came to the Natural Chemotherapeutics Research Laboratory in Wandegeya; I would give them herbs, they do the extraction and give me the concentrated extract that I would dilute and give to my clients. People who saw me on buses transporting herbs to Kampala believed the rumour that I was really mad. Well, sometimes what the public humiliates and sees as an activity for worthless people is the genuine route to prosperity.”
Kazaire now started packing his products and people were now coming to buy only for his father to tell him, “My home is not a clinic; get out.”
“I was already earning about Shs 100,000 per week. So I took a step and established a small clinic near my home and called it Kazire Clinic of Physiotherapy.” Word of mouth marketed him like a wildfire. Later, he secured airtime on radio stations such as Voice of Kigezi to share his healthy living message. I remember my own dad was an ardent listener of his radio programs that whenever he went on air, we had to pause anything and everything.
By this time his products were being used in several districts like Kabale, Kisoro, Rukungiri, Ntungamo, Mbarara, Bushenyi and Kanungu. He was slowly becoming an authoritative point of reference for those who wanted to improve their health, to the extent that many people would come to consult him before taking what the medical doctors had prescribed. At one point, to boost his knowledge, Kazaire went to China and did post-graduate studies in dietorytherapy and nutrition. While there, he learnt that the Chinese use herbs a lot and it is one of the reasons they live longer.
With unbreakable faith, passion, sweat and prayer, Dr Kazaire has curved for himself a business empire that’s now estimated at over 15 billion shillings, making him one of the youngest billionaires in Ugandan shilling terms and a millionaire in US dollars. He chose the brand name Kazire in honor of his grandfather who once built a big business out of motorcades in the 1960s. His company, Kazire Herbal Products directly employs over 200 people and indirectly over 5,000 people. He owns a gigantic factory that stands in Mbarara town. producing over 800 cartons of juice per day. “I still need 14 billion shillings to make this plant serve the community satisfactorily. When I complete it, it will be able to produce 5,000 cartons a day,” he explains.
The factory produces an array of products such as Kazire orange tea drink, Kazire Lemon Green Tea Drink, Kazire VIT Fruit Drink, Kazire Aloe Green Tea Drink from aloevera and Kazire mineral water among others.
Dr Kazaire has planted most of the raw materials he uses. He owns over 1,300 acres of land where he grows lemons, pineapples, oranges, green tea, aloevera and more than 100 other traditional herbs. Some of the lemons he uses are so rare that he gets them from Arua and Soroti and plans to begin importing them from Tanga in Tanzania. He also has an agreement with Isingiro district local government to supply one million lemon seedlings to farmers in the district freely. The catch is that he holds the right to buy the lemons from the farmers after harvesting.
History will never forget July 1979 when Peter Kazaire and Komushana Olive gave birth to a baby that was to grow into this celebrated industrialist – Dr Edward Kazaire. With all this success, he remains very humble, always praising God together with his wife Tukwasibwe Evas and three boys and one girl that God has blessed them with. His business journey is so rich that WORLD OF INSPIRATION is already eyeing publishing a book about his life. If his story cannot inspire you to turn your own ideas into money, then I wonder what can.