In the last 15 years, Barbara Ofwono Buyondo has given her all, helping to model out one of Uganda’s most prestigious schools.
In 1998, Ms Buyondo then 25 years was presented with a difficult decision after a kindergarten, which she had helped to found was sold off.
“It was not easy, but I had to take the right step and that is how I reached the decision to form my own kindergarten,” Ms Buyondo said in a recent interview in reference for a decision she took in 1999 to started a kindergarten, which was housed in a three-bedroom house in Old Kampala.
“Initially I would pay Shs150,000 in rent every month using money I had mobilised from family and friends,” she says.
And from here Buyondo and two others nurtured a kindergarten that would later see the birth of Victorious Education Service.
The school which started with 30 children, has grown to hold more than 4,000 pupils spread on four different campuses and generating an annual turnover of between Shs3b and Shs5b.
The schools employ more than 400 people out of which 200 are teachers.
The business has massively expanded but maintains a high value service chain that is not but limited to providing a pick and drop bus service.
For instance, the schools have a combined fleet of 12 buses that pick and drop children from different parts of town.
The business has also been recognised for its impactful role, winning the Investor of the Year award in 2012 and the 2012-13 Top 100 midsized companies award.
The two awards from Uganda Investment Authority and Daily Monitor are some of the hallmarks that tell the story of a woman [Ms Buyondo], who started small but has grown both in influence and as a key business model.
The mother of four says the success that she dreamt to achieve has been built on passion, taking aantage of her profession – teaching and taking cautious steps, especially in regard to handling money.
According to Ms Buyondo, she never listens to negative energy as many people who tried to discourage her then – 15 years ago, have been disapproved.
Ms Buyondo says she does not fear risks, most especially when they are viable ventures that can move her business to the next level.
For instance in 2000, she had to borrow money from the Watoto Church Sacco, before borrowing over Shs100m from Centenary Bank in 2007 for expansion.
Others loans, including one of Shs1.2b and another of Shs700m have helped her put in place services that she would not have managed to fulfill without them. In 2013, Ms Buyondo also used a Shs1b loan to put up a boarding primary school in Mukono. The school has more than 400 pupils.
However, amid all this, success, there has not been without challenges as Ms Buyondo says she has found it trying to deal with some people who have varied expectations.
“Channelling them to understand what you want comes with a lot of hard work,” she said.
Equally, Ms Buyondo says the cost of her loans has been a challenge given that she has to pay more than 30 per cent as interest for the various loans.
According to Ms Buyondo, her key achievement is managing to touch the life of more than 5,000 pupils that have passed through Victorious Education Services.
She has created employment as well as having serious influence on Uganda’s education system by offering alternative choices.
Victorious Education Services has also been recognised for its impactful role winning the Investor of the Year award in 2012 and the 2012-13 Top 100 Midsized Companies award