BusinessFeature

UCU fresh graduate mints cash out of ice cream

By Simon Omit and Dalton Mujuni

When Uganda Christian University (UCU) convened on December 18, 2020, for a virtual graduation ceremony, not many graduands knew what was next in their lives in a world that had taken a beating from the Covid-19 pandemic. The uncertainty did not reside within Reagan Moses Muyinda. The 26-year-old graduate, who had always dreamed of joining politics and now had a Bachelor of Public Administration and Governance Degree, was ready to sell ice cream. And this was not by accident. As soon as Muyinda joined UCU in 2017, he started saving part of his pocket money for capital for some sort of business. To supplement his savings, Muyinda also operated an online furniture shop.Reagan Moses Muyinda, graduation gown, treats himself at his ice cream stall on the day he graduated on December 18, 2020.Reagan Moses Muyinda, graduation gown, treats himself at his ice cream stall on the day he graduated on December 18, 2020.As the graduate walked out of the gates of UCU on December 18 last year, he had savings worth sh4m (about $1,090) in his purse. To purchase an ice cream-making machine, Muyinda needed sh5m (about $1,370). A friend loaned him the balance of the money. Despite rebuke from his peers that selling ice cream was too low a job for a university graduate, Muyinda persevered. As a result, they isolated him. But he cared less. After all, his parents loved the business idea and have financed it as well. One of Muyinda’s classmates had introduced him to the business. He, therefore, knew full well what to expect. Ice cream is considered “comfort food” and a treat especially comforting during a pandemic.To those who look down on him and others in jobs without prestigious titles, Muyinda advises them to work.

Reagan Moses Muyinda, graduation gown, treats himself at his ice cream stall on the day he graduated on December 18, 2020.

His business, located a several metres (about 20 feet) away from UCU’s Tech Park gate, is booming. In March, Muyinda was recording almost 100 customers daily. “I have been in the ice cream business just for a few months, but it has already picked up,” he said. “The business idea was good and the UCU students haven’t let me down, most of them are my customers.”The high number of customers was not by accident. Muyinda recently introduced board games at his business premises, to attract more patrons. Muyinda’s day starts at 7:00 a.m. and ends at 9:00 p.m, the start of the curfew time in Uganda. The country remains under curfew, which was instituted last year, to control movement of people due to the Covid-19 pandemic. At the time this story was written in March 2021, no movements were allowed in Uganda from 9:00 p.m. to 5:30 a.m, daily. Muyinda dreams of becoming the most popular ice cream supplier in Mukono town, by expanding his business to different trading centres in the town. To achieve that, he first has to overcome some setbacks that are already afflicting the business. In addition to the curfew that shuts off customers after 9 p.m., landlords often raise his rent. “The landlords always think that I am making more from the business,” he said. “In two months, I have shifted to three different locations and this is affecting my profit margin.”Muyinda, however, remains steadfast. “Challenges keep me going since there can’t be business growth without obstacles,” he said.

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