Amuri Kanyima is a Law student and businessman, dealing in fruits. He began the business this year at Uganda Christian University. The Standard’s Eva Kyomugisha interviewed him, and he shares his story with us.
Once upon a time, Amuri Kanyima, a second-year law student was celebrating his 24th birthday with some friends. As it is customary for such celebrations, his friends brought him gifts in the form of money. It was during this moment that Kanyima had an epiphany to learn how to fend for himself without relying on other people for help.
“I felt like I was growing older and I had still not done anything with my life. I was too comfortable. I was receiving money and not doing anything useful with it,” Kanyima said.
Armed with this newfound determination, the second-year law student set out to make his idea a reality. He began by coming up with a suitable business idea that would not affect his studies, one that would keep him close to school. It was selling fruits at the university.
He then approached his parents to pitch the idea to them and hopefully get some assistance. While his father was supportive of the idea, his mother was hesitant.
Kanyima explains that shortly after he started the job, his mother the Woman MP of Kamwenge District, Dorothy Nshaija, called him to try and talk him out of the whole idea, but he was adamant.
“My mother felt that it would take a lot of my time and I would not focus on my studies,” he stated.
Upon convincing her that he would handle academics and business, Kanyima was given Shs350,000 by his father to help him start the business. With his parents’ hurdle out of the way, Kanyima’s other hurdle was finding a supplier for the produce. He set out to Kame Valley Market in Mukono Municipality and talked to some vendors.
“I managed to convince one lady, who accepted to be providing the fruits on loan and I pay her after selling the products,” he explains.
The young entrepreneur then bought a cart that he stationed at Tech Park Gate where he sells the fruits to the university community.
Kanyima sells a variety of fruits such as mangoes, jack fruits, watermelon and pineapples. These fruits are sold in two different ways. First are the whole fruits which are basically sold without slicing what he sells, according to different factors like size. The other category is the sliced fruits which are packed to make it easy for the buyers.
“For the packed fruits, I buy the disposable plates at Shs 6,000 and wrapping film at Shs 3,000,” he explains.
He also hired a young man from his village in Kamwenge District to help him run the cart while he is studying. “He works from Monday to Friday and I come on the weekend. This means that my studies are not affected in any way by this business,” he stated.
Kanyima officially started his business this semester. He used to sell some of his fruits in the Janan Luwum Dining Hall for the students, but he was stopped by some of the staff.
“I was told that I needed a quality assurance certificate to sell my products in the DH which I am in the process of getting,” he said. The 24-year-old also explains that the biggest problem he faces is when he buys produce and is forced to discard it because people have not taken it.
“For example, the sliced fruits: I do not have a fridge to keep them and if they stay overnight they will be spoilt by the morning. The other issue is that some fruits are not liked a lot like oranges,” he explained.
He, however, says that many of the students buy his fruits and like them. He partially attributed this to his colleagues, who he says, take the time out of their schedules to advertise the products on social media.
“I do not pay them but they still post on Facebook and WhatsApp about my product,” he said.
One of his colleagues, Joel Peter Namugera, explains that Kanyima’s business is inspirational because he is a law student and ought to be in class at all times. “Not everyone can do something like that and it is hard to believe he is a law student,” he said.
Kanyima says his business is doing far better than he expected. In a day, he makes Shs60,000 when he and the boy both work together which he says has allowed him to take care of himself .
“I no longer call my parents to ask for money. I can now buy clothes for myself without relying on my parents for the simplest of things,” he said.
He now hopes that when he gets more money, he will be able to improve it by buying a mobile van. “Many students are uncomfortable buying fruits from the cart,” he said.
He said that he still wants to pursue a career in law which he is very passionate about.
In 20 years from now, Kanyima hopes to be a successful person in terms of his law career as well as having other businesses that he can rely on.
His advice to students is not to look down on menial jobs. He suggests that whatever job comes to you and you have the means, take it and use it to the best of your ability.
“Without God, no,” he said.
Kanyima is the first of six children of Yasin Nshaija, a businessman in Kamwenge District, and Dorothy Nshaija the Woman MP of Kamwenge.
“My parents are farmers and most of the time we are in the garden which I think influenced my decision to sell fruits of all the jobs that there are,” he explains.
The young entrepreneur attended Ibanda Town Primary School where he sat for his Primary Leaving Examinations. He then joined Kibuli Secondary School for his S1 to S3 before joining Kakungulu Memorial School in Kampala where he did his UCE.
He did his UACE at Kyabenda Secondary School in Kamwenge District.