By Eric Barigye
Welcome back to our weekly blog that explores a particular aspect of Uganda life, to learn more about the people, place, and this week, once again, the projects that will be hosting our 2020 Adventure Like No Other!
This is the latest addition to our series “From Your Projects!” where we are sharing stories from the beneficiaries of our selected 2020 Charity Projects. This week we meet 1 of the 10 business owners Youth With A Vision (YWAV) has taken under its wing!
Sylvia is the 33-year-old business owner of God Cares Stationery. It is located at an ideal location by the main entrance of both Masaka Regional Referral Hospital and within the grounds of Masaka School of Comprehensive Nursing. Sylvia’s path to ownership was greatly assisted by Youth With a Vision’s loan support system and microfinance scheme.
Starting out 5 years ago, Sylvia worked for the previous owner and learnt the trade from them. Then in 2017, she learned of YWAV through a friend. She went for a meeting with the organisation and signed up for their short business course which they offered. It taught her how to write a business plan, manage finances, how to do bookkeeping, and how to save.
It was also around this time that her boss told her of their intent to leave the business. By then, Sylvia knew she had the training as well as the experience to take over the business so she went to YWAV and asked for a loan (which forms a part of their youth microfinance scheme), so she could buy her boss out. To her delight, they were convinced by her business plan and gave her the funds!
She impressed them in the following months with the progress she made with the business and her timely repayments on the loan. So, when she returned in 2019 for another loan to expand the business further, they approved it. She managed to buy the printer she had been previously renting this whole time (from the previous owner), as well as a fridge which would keep drinks cold for her customers.
Her day begins at 6:00 AM. She owns 3 pigs that she tends to early in the morning. She cleans their sty then puts out their feed and water for the day. She returns to the house to prepare for the day and has breakfast. It is a short journey to the hospital where she works and she is open by 8:00 AM. As her customers are mostly students, their time to appear can be unpredictable, so it’s important she opens early..
In Uganda, most institutions of higher learning will only give notes, course work and assignments in hard copy, on paper. With the staff copier only meant for staff this leaves Sylvia in a position to give a much-needed service to the students, which is in high demand.
However, during the school holidays, Sylvia saw she had to diversify. The students were gone but the people from Masaka Regional Referral Hospital are constantly coming and going, so Sylvia added fresh foodstuffs like bananas, soft drinks and mobile charging to her stationery services.
She is there from 8:00 AM through to lunch at 1:00 PM, and then up until the closing time at 7:00 PM. Sylvia is almost always on her feet serving someone!
She tells me she earns about 50,000 shillings (about $14) a day. The loan she received from YWAV is 1,500,000 shillings ($409.5) and she makes a monthly repayment of 125,000 shillings ($34.13).
“I am very thankful for Youth With A Vision. They have made me what you see today. I am even considering to go back to get a loan for a second fridge to further expand my business.”
Given that Youth With A Vision supports youth between the ages of 18 to 35, Sylvia still has time to make that proposal.
With the help of International runners like you, Youth With A Vision has the goal to help 20 more youths this year, helping them to establish their own businesses and become job creators rather than job seekers by the end of 2021!
Sylvia maintains very relaxed evenings, with dinner and TV the main activities before sleep.
That is all for this week’s blog. Thank you and we hope you join us again next week! 🙂