By Agatha N. Biira
Everyone has a distinct motivation for starting a business. Wilma Nakyanzi, a Bachelor of Social Work and Social Administration student at Uganda Christian University (UCU) who is about to graduate, said that she wanted to do it more for survival than for personal growth.
Having been low on cash and getting less support from her parents, she thought about starting something that she could earn from. Seeing some of the students at UCU selling sweets around the university, Nakyanzi decided to venture into the same business.
In 2020, when Nakyanzi was in her first year, she walked from the university hall to Mukono town one evening, going shop by shop to find out the price of a tin of sweets. It was only until she found a wholesaler that her search stopped. She bought a tin of sweets for the start and that was where her journey as “(Felecity sweets started) I used to walk with my tin of sweets everywhere I went. My classmates were my first and immediate customers, “Nakyanzi said.
When the lockdown was initiated, Nakyanzi couldn’t make as many sales as before, considering the fact that movements were limited. She decided to start hawking sweets on the streets of Kampala town, and with the help of her friends in the buildings downtown, she was able to get customers.
Speaking about her experience on the “streets,” Nakyanzi says, “When I started getting money, I kind of dropped my books. It wasn’t easy balancing both school and business at the time. One of the challenges she faced during that time was disrespectful customers. “Men used to disturb me. Some people would call me to their homes for business and others would not pay, “Nakyanzi said.
Her parents were not really supportive of her business till she made shirts and business cards. She recalls her mother telling her, “Omwana wa campus tasobola okutunda sweet,” loosely translated as “A university girl cannot sell sweets.”
With the business going well for her, Nakyanzi wanted to grow her business into something bigger than just selling sweets- Gifts. She used YouTube and Instagram to learn how to organize and wrap gifts. She was thinking of importing sweets but realized it was costly.
So, when another lockdown was initiated in 2021, Nakyanzi thought about something that she could do that people would like. She did research and started making lip gloss, among other lip products. But that came with extra expenditure.
“I remember ordering stuff worth $40 from China through an app called Alibaba, but I had to pay $60 in taxes to get them into Uganda,” she said.
She regretted why she had started the business and took a break from it. “I had spent a lot of money buying the ingredients for the lip products,” Nakyanzi said. “I reached a time when I had nothing in my room to eat.”
Among other challenges that she has faced, time and money remain the biggest. Nakyanzi plans to revive her business soon with someone else helping her run it. She hopes to venture into beads too, making items such as bangles, necklaces, waist beads, and bags.
To the young people, Nakyanzi says, “We all have to start small. You cannot start very big unless you come from a well-off family. ” Nakyanzi added that it was through her sweets business that she got herself a job.