My name is Susan Olayo. I am 28 years old, married with two children. I and my family live in Bunyafa, Sironko District. Three years ago, I and my family were living in a sorry state. My husband was a casual laborer who used to load bunches of matooke on trucks and in return, he would get a few fingers of matooke which he would sell to earn a living and put food on the table.
I, on the other hand, I was a stay home mother who had no idea of how to help my husband. But in 2018, I was invited for a community meeting. During the meeting, we were taught about Share An Opportunity Uganda’s Self Help Group (SHG) approach.
Joining the SHG
It sounded good so I joined one of the groups; Koleladwela group, that convened once a week near my home. In the group, I paid a membership fee of UGX 500 and a weekly saving fee of UGX 500.
From the weekly savings, some group members started getting loans to start businesses. But I was afraid of getting a loan since I had no business idea in mind. However, after a training on the different business ventures members could get involved in, I got an idea.
Start of a business venture
I decide to get a loan of UGX 10,000. I used this money to buy a bunch of bananas, cut it into clusters and sold them within the community. I sold all the bananas and made some profits which I used to clear the loan and got another bigger loan of UGX 30,000. I used this money to buy more banana bunches. I sold them and made more profits.
I paid off that loan too and got another bigger loan of UGX100,000. I still invested this money in the banana business because it was very lucrative. I made profits which is used to pay off the running loan and got another one of UGX 300,000.
I invested some of this money in the banana trade and used part of is to buy cabbage seed, fertilizers and everything I needed to fumigate the cabbage.
The reason for diversification in business was because I needed more capital for my banana business and cabbage farming seemed like a viable venture.
I harvested the cabbage in January 2021 and sold the harvest at UGX550,000. I got UGX 150,000 from my income and bout Eucalyptus seedlings. These I planted on the land we have near our home.
I injected the remaining UGX400,000 in the banana business. Right now, I supply bunches of bananas to neighboring districts of Mbale, Busia and Teso. I also sell clusters within my community.
With this turn-around of events, my husband no longer loads matooke on people’s trucks. We work as a family and we have now employed two people to help with carrying the banana bunches. We sell 40 bunches of banana a week and make between UGX100,000 to UGX150,000 in profits every week and my business is growing every month.
Transformation and future plans
Our family life and especially that of our children has completely changed. We can now afford nutritious food for them and we can take them to hospital when they fall sick unlike before. When the school term opens, our children will go to some of the good schools around.
My future plan is to increase on the number of bunches of bananas I buy a week and to build a better house for my family before the end of 2021.