Are you considering starting a tissue paper business in Kenya? If yes, this article will provide you with a detailed business guide in manufacturing, selling, and distributing commercial and consumer tissue paper rolls and napkins used daily across homesteads, hotels, beauty establishments, and offices by administering particular hygiene practices or other natural processes.

Tissue Paper is a lightweight crepe type of paper prepared from treating recycled paper pulp derived from lignocellulosic fibrous. 

On a commercial basis, the tissue paper manufacturing business can potentially rake in big returns with the right skills, personality, and business acumen since heavy investments are required to finance the business. 

Starting on the venture requires a well-researched business plan that highlights the current market trends in the country, strategic business location, sourcing for skilled labor, and most importantly, acquiring quality raw materials and marketing.

Getting Started 

The Tissue Business

For starters, you will need semi-skilled labor with a range of minimal materials and as the business continues to gain traction thanks to consumer demands increasing daily, you should consider buying affordable high-quality equipment which saves you money whilst producing high-quality tissue papers. 

Some guidance on the same from an entrepreneur in the same field will prove valuable in setting up a small-scale manufacturing plant and if the below guidelines are widely implemented, the business should thrive in a few months.

 Prepare a business plan and understand the market 

Owing to a shift in consumer trends caused by the Coronavirus global crisis, the demand for the product is expected to increase as more individuals are getting information on proper sanitation practices and cleanliness.

Tissue paper consumption in the country is also expected to grow favorably due to inevitable factors like urbanization, growing disposable income, and consumer spending.

Apart from having great marketing potential, tissue paper is biodegradable and recyclable therefore an eco-friendly product and before starting the business, you need to decide on a market niche as listed below.

  • Toilet tissue paper
  • Facial tissue paper 
  • Tissue napkins 
  • Paper towels

If you intend to grow your business to large-scale production, you may at first begin with two or more types of products. Presently, Chandaria Industries is Kenya’s largest tissue manufacturer by selling and distributing a wide range of tissue brands and hygiene products with different quality parameters and prices. Leading tissue paper brands with higher price points include Velvex, Nice & Soft, and Toilex Premium which are made of virgin pulp, which is considered “whiter” whereas the likes of Toilex and Rosy are manufactured from premium quality recycled paper.

 Depending on the amount of money you intend to invest in the business, you can opt for “virgin tissue” which is free from recycled paper thus more production costs. Another alternative is an unused type of wood-based material, the pulp that is used to manufacture tissue while remaining sustainable and environmentally friendly. Option three is starting the venture with recycled materials manufactured from recycling paper from printers, offices, archives, egg trays, and counter rolls. 

As a startup tissue manufacturing plant making wise investments, you can start the business with recycled tissue paper by offering environmentally friendly options of collecting the waste and decreasing the growth of paper waste in Kenya, thanks to the eco-friendly process. 

The recycled papers are taken through a thorough ink removal and cleaning process. This cleaned paper pulp is then safe for re-use as raw material in tissue paper production. The result is similarly a strong, white, soft, and absorbent tissue paper, which is why brands like Toilex, Rosy, and Dawn Pekee are market leaders in their respective categories courtesy of Chandaria Industries.

Training and practical experience 

Primarily, tissue Papers are classified into two categories as follows. 

Consumer Tissue Papers: They are mainly used for domestic purposes within the household. 

Commercial Tissue Papers: Also known as “Industrial Tissue Papers”, they are used in the form of napkins, facial tissues, paper towels, and toilet paper in places like hotels, parties, homes, restaurants, offices, and beauty parlors.

As a prospective business, vital information on the coarseness, absorption, and porosity will determine if the tissue papers you intend to manufacture will meet the quality standards of market demands. Quality of the end-product is also a key factor as your prospective clients will be utilizing them solely for hygiene practices and uniqueness can be incorporated into your tissue brand by embossing and printing a signature pattern to yield higher profits. It is important to note that as an entrepreneur, you ought to have a deep comprehension of the business and we suggest attending workshops and visiting reputable tissue paper manufacturers for case studies, training, and learning the ropes of the business.

Consulting an expert with a business plan will serve a great purpose in hiring employees, financing the business, sourcing for raw materials and machinery as well as branding and selling the products. Once you gain some practical experience and insights you can plan the business accordingly. Managerial qualities are a plus for the industrial zone to run at full capacity. Before launching your business, choosing the type of product you want to produce should be taken seriously and toilet rolls are a good idea as it has more market demand in terms of consumer rates and commercial value. According to reports, urban and densely populated areas in Kenya are consuming around three times as much tissue compared to rural areas.

Financing the business 

Before initiating the business, finances are needed and this can be materialized by applying for a loan from a bank, or any other financial institution and in this case, your credit score should be top-notch. Utilizing your savings is also a good way to start a business. Other ways of getting funding may include pitching and partnership. 

If possible, buy cheap high-quality equipment. You can save your money and at the same time, produce high-quality toilet paper.

Scout for an ideal location required to start a tissue paper plant 

The manufacturing unit is the most important in overseeing the production and success of the business. Preferably, starting the production plant will require at least 500 sq ft area space to foster proper arrangements, easy movement, packaging and should also be feasible for raw materials and finished goods storage.

A quality machine will be 15 Ft x 5 Ft, and this will take a big chunk of the working space. While scouting for an ideal location; the area must be well equipped with facilities like water supply, drainage supply, electrical supply as well as easy accessibility for transportation purposes.

 Apart from the mentioned factors in your industrial zone, your tissue manufacturing plant ought to have easy availability of skilled labor and the venue you opt for will entirely depend on how much money you have to start your company.

 To generate steady income as soon as you start, choose a location that your target market can easily source for your products and raw material suppliers can bring you items at affordable rates. In this new age and with the growing awareness, you can launch the business within your home as you gear up to relocate, wait until the company is established, and later branch out into a more industrialized production zone.

Business registration and getting a quality standard license

Notably, the business will require some pieces of documentation and you will need to register a quality assurance license to launch the manufacturing plant. To get such accreditation, you need the following documentation: 

  • National Social Security Fund (NSSF) card
  • Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) certificate 
  • National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) membership
  • A national ID or passport

Additionally, you will need the following requirements to register your tissue paper manufacturing plant in the country: 

Create an E-Citizen account-To access government services, an ECitizen account is mandatory and your national id, email address, passport photo, and your phone number are required to make an application.

Business Name -You can launch the business from small to medium tissue Paper making either a proprietorship or partnership firm and if you are starring it as an individual, register the firm as a proprietorship whereas, for a partnership operation, you have to register as a limited liability partnership (LLP) or Pvt. Ltd.

Company details such as directors -It is important to conduct a trademark search to ascertain that your business name does not clash with an existing trademark.

Registration fee and payment methods– While applying for the business, a prescribed fee of Ksh. 10,000 (registration fee), and Ksh 600 for company search fee plus an additional Ksh. 50 (Convenience fee) will be charged.

Company pin Registration– Like any other business, the tissue paper venture is taxable following the Income Tax Act. This will also require you to register a company pin which is a necessity for filing annual returns as well as registering for income tax or incorporation tax.


Reputable tissue manufacturing and vending businesses must obtain a permit to use the standardization mark from KEBS (Kenya Bureau of Standards). The Kenyan Judicial system further states that the KEBS mark is also important for quality assurance checks and purposes as this helps consumers to build trust in the quality of your product if they see it on the package.

To acquire the quality standardization badge from KEBS, the annual certification fee is Kshs. 31,900 that is handed over only after the manufacturing machines are installed and the quality of your tissue papers are tried and tested.

Hiring employees for the business 

While sourcing quality equipment and raw materials for the tissue manufacturing plant, a few suppliers offer training and workshop services if the machinery and production units are brought from them. You can contact them and acquire free training for yourself and your employees to run the industrial zone. Otherwise, you could request various suppliers and manufacturers for in-depth coaching services at a fee in case you did not buy the start-up items from them.

Having a team of both skilled and unskilled employees to kickstart the business saves you a great deal of time and money as skilled laborers reduce the training costs for newcomers because they will transfer their skills from previous employers whilst training the newbies at the job. A range of remuneration options need to be put in place, a bookkeeping system has to be considered, and this all takes additional costs.

To minimize costs and additional expenses, start the business on a small scale since appointing every staff across various departments like accounts, marketing, sales, and management takes a huge share of your start-up allocation budget. In this case, managerial skills on your part will assist in handling responsibilities in various departments inclusive of practical skills hence an assurance of knowing the business alongside the will to work hard until profits for a bigger team yield with time.

Raw material and machinery buying 

For a successful run of the business and profit maximization, it is important to have a handful of raw materials with the most important being core paper and jumbo reels. 

King-sized jumbo reels are sold on bales and these items will need to be re-shaped and sized according to the type of machine used and product niche you have opted for the business. Coloring the tissue paper sheet is dependent on the types of dye used. Other important manufacturing materials include wrapping paper, glue, and cellophane.

On a lighter note, the production process is less hefty as it will solely depend on the machine’s efficiency and production capacity. According to the production demand and the investment, below is a list of equipment that you will need for the manufacturing process:

  • Band saw cutter
  • Jumbo Reel Winding Machine
  • Core Gluing Machine
  • Cutting Machine
  • Perforating unit
  • Embossing unit

Manufacturing, Branding, and Packaging 

To produce quality tissue papers, the core, and success of your business is determined by the scope of the production unit which in turn sets the tone of the business. Processing pulp paper is the initial step in manufacturing tissue paper which either involves using recycled material or deriving the fiber from fresh wood although they can also be obtained from straw or sugar cane residue. Afterward, the cleaned (bleached and washed) fiber is transferred into a mixing tank where dye is added for coloring effects.

Since the cleaned pulp contains a significant amount of moisture, the materials are tightly pressed with the machine to squeeze out the moisture content. The press roll contains a perforated suction pump, which together with the felt, removes the water from the paper web to a point of complete dryness. Creeping is what follows whereby the paper pulp is ferried through a roller dryer which is heated by steam. The roller dries up the treated paper pulps with extreme heat settings and the result is tissue blades which are later trimmed to the desired thickness.

With the help of a wounding machine, the product (Tissue paper) is reeled up into large jumbo bales and the paper is now ready for further processing into products like toilet rolls, kitchen rolls, paper tissues, or paper towels. Depending on the production requirements, the jumbo reels will later be cut into smaller sizes and since most tissue paper is predominantly white in color, an assortment of dye colors can be incorporated to get colored tissue papers.

After cutting and embossing the processed tissue papers, they are packed into your desired product niche, branded, and sealed as a final product. To make your customers feel special while still standing out as a brand, custom tissue paper is the best way to do so is designing something that will attract customers while they are at retail outlets. Since custom elements make you stand out in the already competitive tissue manufacturing business, packaging should also be waterproof, travel friendly, and comfortable for regular use, and the brand graphics, the shape should also be done accordingly.

Customized and well-embossed tissue paper will require your attention to detail as it will add depth to your story as well as making customers notice your efforts to personalize their shopping experience. Consider hiring a designer for positive brand presentation and equity as it will amount to value addition to the product and more consumers will largely perceive your brand as familiar and more trustworthy. The branding process includes Conducting market analysis to determine your target audience, coming up with a positioning statement and brand story, designing a distinct and creative brand logo, and experimenting with creative elements to determine a well-done outcome.

Marketing and understanding your competitors 

For a successful tissue manufacturing plant, a well-written marketing plan packed with ideas and strategies comes in handy. The document should analyze the current situation of the business, competitive strategies, and action programs that will be utilized to introduce the tissue paper to a range of consumers.

Since you are not just competing with local manufacturers, your tissue paper brand should focus on how to stay ahead of different small-scale manufacturers of toilet paper as you gain more recognition. Therefore, associating your products with quality user-friendly attributes keeps prospective clients curious to give the tissue papers a try, and if your brand produces quality tissue paper, selling them out will not be a problem.

Try to expand your client base using your recent customers who will help you sell more by referring you to other retailers and sellers about the tissue paper product.Hence, it is important to package and design your products as catchy as possible. The marketing success of your tissue brand will be determined by.

  •  Cost Leadership
  • Marketing and Distribution
  • Price
  • Location
  • Utilizing social media platforms and traditional advertising strategies
  • Exploring marketing materials
  • Using satisfied customer feedback
  • Building an attractive website that allows online purchases
  • Business networking and partnership
  • Referrals from retailers and wholesalers
  • Gain industry expertise and skills
  • Sell online on e-commerce platforms like Jumia and Kilimall
  • Use keywords and hashtags to promote your business
  • Be a part of tissue paper manufacturing Associations in the country

Presently, Cosy toilet paper has the largest market share of 26% as well as dominating shelves in retail outlets, surveys have shown. According to recent data from consumer insights, other popular brands battling for a lion’s share in this business include Rosy at 15%, Toilex 14%, Tena 13%, Sawasawa-7%, Flora %, and Velvex at 5%. Surging manufacturing costs and expenses have also increased the retail prices of tissue paper units, and this forced manufacturers to offset the extra costs of production, packaging, and distribution by passing them on to consumers. 

Despite the mentioned factors, Cosy tissue paper still has the biggest mass-market share, and Velvex tissue is the face of the overall appeal of the premium market. Being Chandari’s cheapest brands, Velvex, Rosy, Cosy and Nice & Soft come in single packs, twin packs, 4, packs, 8 packs, and also 12 packs. Unlike other Kenyan tissue brands that are made from recycled paper, Velvex tissue is made from 100% virgin pulp making it the most recognized premium tissue brand in the country. The top brands also provide top-quality serviettes at low price points. As an upcoming tissue paper business, you can start by dominating the market by fielding two product niches before seeking a presence in other segments.

Tissue Manufacturing and selling during the Coronavirus pandemic 

Considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the tissue manufacturing business, the commodity’s market share has increased the country’s consumption of tissue paper products hence diluting the chances of low sales across the country. In comparison to other hygiene products, the tissue manufacturing industry heavily benefitted from the global crisis owing to increased demands whereby consumers flocked to preferred retail stores to stock up the item. Following the introduction of recycled tissue paper, start-up tissue manufacturing companies have seen tremendous growth thanks to growing awareness of personal hygiene practices as well as contrast growth in population and Covid-19 prevention measures making the business very profitable. 

In conclusion, sanitation, and infection prevention awareness especially during the current COVID-19 pandemic is expected to push the tissue manufacturing venture in Kenya to a greater scale and market share as the demand for this product has increased thanks to a preference for disposable paper products to curb the spread of the coronavirus infection.