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Covid inspires locals to explore new ways of earning a living

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By Rajab Mukombozi

By Milton Bandiho

The Covid-19 pandemic has had an impact on all aspects of life in Uganda. Many people have lost their jobs, while others have ventured into other businesses in order to make a living.

When President Museveni announced the first lockdown in March last year as a measure to contain the spread of the virus, many people’s livelihoods were affected.

However, by the time the second lockdown was imposed in June this year, some of the affected people, such as teachers, bar owners, and taxi drivers, had already found alternatives.

Mr Arthur Mwesigwa, a businessman in Mbarara City, closed his retail business to venture into poultry farming.

“When my chicken started laying eggs, I would sell 20 trays every day at Shs220, 000,” he said.

Mr Mwesigwa used social media to market his eggs, attracting more customers.

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“With new customers coming on board, I earn at least Shs350, 000 in daily sales,” he says.

Mr Mwesigwa adds that he had not embraced social media despite having more than 500 friends on Facebook until the President declared lockdown this year.

“I have utilised social media which has breathed a new lease of life into my business and has contributed greatly to my business growth. I now have customers even as far as Kampala because of social media connections,” Mr Mwesigwa says.

He now hires a motorcycle to deliver eggs to his growing clientele.

Mr Chris Amanyiire, a resident of Kyabugimbi Village in Bushenyi District and formerly a taxi driver, used his savings to start roasting meat on Bushenyi- Kasese road.

“When the lockdown was announced, I started roasting meat during day time. This has become a lucrative business and I now earn on average Shs20, 000 daily to fend for my family,” Mr Amanyiire says.

Ms Angel Atukwasa, who sells merchandise on Mbarara High Street, says she used the lockdown to create a customer data bank.

“Keeping customers’ records has helped me maintain daily contact with them and I have been able to update them whenever there is new stock. They have always picked interest in my new stock and supported me,” Ms Natukunda says.

Mr Moses Atuhaire, a secondary school teacher, embraced backyard gardening to make a living.

“If it was not for the backyard garden my wife established at home that is supplementing our income, it would have been a big challenge to feed my family. My project is now supporting my development,” Mr Atuhaire says.

Mr Moses Ngabo, a trader in Mbarara Town, says he started making soap at home in the first lockdown, which has now become a family business.

“As income sources start to become slim with the idleness at home you start thinking of alternative survival ways. In the first lockdown, I thought of starting to make liquid soap. I intend to start some cottage industry in the backyard of my home,” Mr Ngabo says.

Ms Eunice Kemigisha, who was a bar attendant in Bushenyi District, now sells second-hand clothes.

Ms Lucky Natukunda, who used to operate a salon on Mbarara High Street, started collecting banana peels from her neighbours to sell them.

“My neighbours were struggling to dispose of garbage, especially banana peelings. But I remembered that people who owned livestock in my village used to flock to our homes looking for peelings to feed their animals. That is how I came up with the idea. Luckily, it does not cost much. I bought 10 empty bags at Shs10, 000. I sell a bag between Shs2, 000 and Shs3, 000. I can sell 10 bags on average daily,” Ms Natukunda says.

“I plan to rent a place and put up a makeshift structure where I can do my business, I am expanding to start selling other types of garbage such as plastics. It is a business you can do without investing a lot because residents struggle to dispose of garbage,” she adds.

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