The manufacturing facility, which is called Masters Diapers Zimbabwe, is the first of its kind in Bulawayo. Speaking during a tour of the plant this week, the company's managing director, Nigam Desai, told Industry and Commerce Deputy Minister Raj Modi that the site has acted as a distributor of diapers for the past six years. However, due to the prevailing foreign currency shortage, he said, they encouraged their investors in South Africa to come and set up a manufacturing plant locally. Once operating, the plant has capacity to produce 120,000 diapers per day.
"Right now we are starting with 25-30 people directly employed then indirectly we will have merchandisers throughout the whole country. This we are talking of an eight-hour shift and if we are to put a 24-hour shift it means we will be doubling the figures or even more," Mr Desai said. He said they were also looking forward to exporting but that would only happen once local demand is met. The product (diapers) at the moment is also coming through South Africa into the informal sector so we are hoping to stop that by setting up a manufacturing plant for import substitution so that we can create employment, provide the product locally and then of course thereafter we can export," Mr Desai said.
Masters Diapers Zimbabwe uses different types of raw materials that include glue, pulp and tape, which are imported from countries such as China, India and the U.S.
Desai told the Deputy Minister that the manufacturing line came to the factory in Belmont about three months ago and so far no production was taking place.
"When we import the raw materials, there is a lead time of three months so these machines came in three months ago. We are sitting idle and if (the government) is to give us the money today, January the project is going to start. We started this project in July-August and the factory is empty, not generating funds and contributing to the fiscus. "So, we are saying we need assistance from Government so that we can start generating employment," he said.
Desai said his company has applied for $350, 000 from local banks to kick start the diaper manufacturing business.