By Vanessa Kyalimpa
Making jewellery started out as a pastime for Rosemary Ndyemanya Marion. As a young girl, she learned the activity by helping her mother make necklaces and earrings, which she sold to supplement her monthly salary.
During her Senior Six holidays, she took the activity a notch higher, by starting to make her own jewellery for sale.
“I often went to town with my mother, to buy the beads and threads and all the other products she needed for her jewellery business,” she narrates.
On one of the trips, Ndyemanya asked her mother for money so she could also buy what she would use to make her own products.
“She gave me sh5,000 (about $1.5) and that’s how I started,” said Ndyemanya, a student of Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Finance in the Uganda Christian University (UCU) School of Business. She is in second year of her study at UCU.
When Ndyemanya sensed that she had learned enough about making jewellery and was able to fly alone, she started a company, Anya Wrist. The year was 2021.
With the business, she has been able to make money. For instance, she says there are months she earns up to sh900,000 ($237) in sales. It is not just the money she is reaping from the business. In July, Ndyemanya won a business start-up challenge in the National Schools Championships that was organised by Stanbic Bank in Uganda. The competition attracted participants from 100 schools.
The award, in a competition where her pitch was the Anya Wrist business, saw her walk home with a prize of sh5million (about $1,300). At the awards gala, a short profile of Ndyemanya’s pitch wowed the event’s chief guest, Thomas Tayebwa, the Deputy Speaker of Uganda’s Parliament. In addition to the sh5million, Tayebwa also gave Ndyemanya another sh1million (about $260).
The competition, in its seventh year, was held under the theme “Empowering Job Creators of Tomorrow.” Upon the selection of the applicants in March, they were taken for a boot camp in April, where Ndyemanya learned valuable lessons, which she believes will be able to make her business grow. The knowledge and skills provided were in the areas of how to grow the business, sell and market products and use the numerous opportunities that social media offers to close the physical gap between the producer and the customer.
“I’m not from a financially stable family,” Ndyemanya said. “My mum is a primary school teacher and my dad is a reverend. In order to make ends meet, my mom would make crafts, soap and wine for sale at church after service.” Ndyemanya thanks God for the opportunity that the Stanbic Bank entrepreneurship challenge offered her.
Just like any student running a business, Ndyemanya is not short of obstacles. “When I’m in school, I find it hard to balance both academics and work, so I find myself having to leave out some orders that need delivery in distant places so I can attend my classes,” she said, noting that she has extra roles as a student leader. At school, Ndyemanya is the student custodian of her hall of residence.
“During my holidays, though, I give my all to the business, making up for any losses during the semester.”