The Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE)-listed manufacturing conglomerate, Flame Tree Group, traces its roots back to its establishment by its CEO Heral Banghera when he was only 18 years old, in 1989.
Roto Moulders, which expanded and grew into Flame Tree Group, was established in 1989 and incorporated in 1991. The company has been responsible for brands ranging from the Roto water storage tanks, a ubiquity in Kenya, to the wildly popular Zoe range of cosmetics products including lotion, shampoo and olive oil.
According to Bangera, his father constantly encouraged him to venture into business, and gave him Ksh500,000 to serve as start up capital for his earliest venture. This would prove to be a wise investment as the venture, Roto water storage tanks, would go on to form the cornerstone of his multi-billion shilling business empire.
The tanks are among the most widely distributed by hardware stores in the country and feature in countless construction projects locally.
“My dad has always encouraged me to do business. He has never been negative. For me to have been able to start my business at 18, it’s because I had a very supportive father. He gave me the initial capital to start the business , just under KSh 500,000,” he once told How we Made it in Africa.
When he established the business, Banghera’s goal was to manufacture at least four tanks a month. He states that he chose to go into the business after observing challenges faced by Kenyans in areas with poor water supply.
“When I started as a student I figured if we could manufacture four tanks a month it would make a great business. Time has proved even better because now we manufacture hundreds a day,” Bangera, who holds a Mechanical Engineering degree from Bangalore University, recalls.
The Zoe brand was launched in 2005 as the company ventured further into the consumer goods space. It later launches additional cosmetics and beauty brands such as Alana and Cerro.
Today, Flame Tree Group employs over 1000 people and operates in multiple countries including Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Mozambique.