My name is Harriet Kanagwa, I am 47 years old, I have 10 children aged between 30 and five years.
I heard about SAO’s programme in June 2018. When they came to Sironko, they ranked us and my family was ranked among the poor of the poorest. Then, life was very bad. Our main source of income was providing casual labour at other people’s farms.
It was from the money that we earned that we could buy food and other very important needs for our children. We could not afford necessities such as soap and sugar and we would only have one meal a day. My children were in government schools but even buying scholastic materials was a challenge.
When I joined one of the Self Help Groups (SHG) Kolere-adwela (Work together) in my area, our facilitator taught us very many things right from cleanliness, Godliness and how to sustain ourselves financially. In financial sustainability, we were taught about saving and borrowing plus how to start income generating activities and how to grow it.
After a few months of saving, I got a loan of UGX 30,000 and bought three bunches of bananas. These, I sold in the market and got some profits. When I realized that the banana trade was a lucrative business, I got another loan and started buying the bananas in large quantities; this enabled me to make more profits.
My husband was happy with the business and he also started giving me physical support in the business by helping with the loading of the bananas on trucks on market days. He would also help me look out for cheap banana sellers.
With this, we became a happy family. We could even afford things such as sugar and soap but most important of all, we started having three meals a day and I could buy scholastic materials for my children.
The lockdown slump
We lived a good life until May 2020; at the beginning of the first lockdown. Since weekly markets had been closed, we had nowhere to sell the bananas and the other places like schools where I could also sell the bananas had been closed as a result of the COVID pandemic.
The bananas I used to buy during the first months of the lockdown would end up getting rotten since there were no customers to buy them. As a result of such losses, the business collapsed and we went back into our old kind of lifestyle.
Change of business due to the pandemic
Lucky enough, SAO gave us more training on other business options so I decided to plant tomatoes. I bought seedlings worth UGX 110,000. These will soon be transplanted into the main garden and will be due for harvesting in November. I expect to earn UGX3,000,000 from the harvest.
I also bought 11 turkeys each at UGX 10,000. These I will sell in 2022 around Easter time at UGX 150,000 each.
I have also ventured into the coffee business where I buy a cup of fresh coffee at UGX400 and sell it at UGX500. I use the profits from this business to buy food at home.
Out of the tomato business, I expect to get UGX 3,000,000 and I will use this money to start a powerful retail shop at my home in January 2022.
My long term plan is to educate all my children up to university level. I also want to support my husband with completing our house.