Babe of the Week – Unemployment Drove Nambuya to Innovate

With only one semester to the end of her Bachelor of Procurement and Logistics course at Ndejje University, Barbara Nambuya dropped out of school in 2006.

Although she got a job as an administrator at Yacobo Olima Mayini and Associates (YOMA), a consultancy firm, the opportunity was not available for long. In 2008, the owner of YOMA who had offered her the job died. Without its founder and leader, the firm collapsed and Nambuya found herself on the streets once again.

To make matters worse for Nambuya who lives in Gongobe village, Seeta, Mukono district, she lost the job at a time when she was expecting her first child. Due to the complications resulting from giving birth by caesarean section, and the subsequent demands of motherhood, Nambuya spent 12 months without employment.

During that time, Nambuya, who had completed her primary education in 1989 at Makonzi boarding primary school, conceived the idea of rearing poultry and growing vegetables for sale. Later, the girl who had completed her UCE in 1993 and UACE in 1996 at Mityana SS, learnt how to make craft bags, petroleum jelly and mosquito repellent.

Sharing opportunities:

Now 37, Nambuya says she was inspired by the initial successes to join hands with friends and form Slide Foundation to formalise the production of the items on a bigger scale. She was joined by a group of nine friends who had the common vision of creating jobs for themselves.

“The idea was to share with friends,” she says. “We sat down and formed the organisation by borrowing ideas from other organisations and seeking aice. We wrote the organisation’s constitution and registered it under Mukono district.”

Slide Foundation brings together all groups of unemployed people, including the needy, orphans and the elderly. The subscription fee is Shs 5,000 and members are required to make a commitment to attend all the organisation’s meetings every Tuesday and Wednesday. However, according to Nambuya, the initial days of working as a team were far from smooth.

“It was not easy to get funders,” she remembers. “That is why we decided to approach Hosea Lwanga, a lawyer who is now the foundation’s board chairman, with our concerns so that he could help us look for funds.”

Initially, the foundation was making petroleum jelly and mosquito repellents. With more funding, the foundation’s prospects, and subsequently the membership, increased. From nine, the members grew to 50. However, according to Nambuya, the petroleum jelly didn’t have a label, making it difficult to market beyond the Mukono locality.

They overcame that hurdle by doing door-to-door marketing of their products, something that she and other foundation members still do.

Marketing is done by the members in their children’s schools. They also attend exhibitions whenever they can afford in order to aertise their products. She adds that the members are also encouraged to move with the products wherever they go in order to market them.

“I personally take every opportunity that I get to market the product wherever I go, even if it means doing it in the taxi,” says Nambuya, now a mother of two.

According to Nambuya, their hard work, persistence and commitment to Slide Foundation have since seen the organisation stabilise financially.

Counting the dividends:

As the dividends from their organisation have grown over the last few years, Nambuya and other members have seen their own lives change for the better.

“I am a single mother, but I am able to keep my children in school. ” she says. “The business has helped me make a number of friends who call me in case of any opportunities.”

Nambuya is also relieved from the stress of paying rent since she has built her own small house using her modest earnings from the foundation.

As the organisation’s leader, Nambuya is always thinking ahead. She says she has plans of expanding the organisation by establishing an office, exhibition hall and training centre where customers can go and buy their items without going through middlemen.

Source : The Observer

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