Uganda is regarded as an agriculture-based economy and a food basket in the East African region, given its ability to produce a variety of foods and in large quantities. It comprises the food and cash crops production, livestock, forestry, and fishing sub sectors. The Agriculture sector continues to be the most important sector in Uganda employing approximately 69% of the population and contributes about 26% to the GDP.
Determined to beat all odds and survive the hardships of widowhood, a group of vulnerable women in Kayunga District took upon themselves to change their fate by embarking on a journey that has tremendously changed their lives. With humble beginnings, these women were able to turn around their narrative by empowering themselves through Maize cultivation.
Left with nothing much but the maize mill left behind by her late husband, Mrs. Lubwama decided to join hands with other fellow women who were facing the same hardships as her to be able to earn a living. She offered Mukisa Maize Mill as a starting point. At first, it was just about survival but they realized it could be more than just that.
United by a common cause, these women have been very relentless and determined in the pursuit of a better life for themselves, families and their community at large. What started as a small idea has now bloomed into a businessthat is benefiting the whole community. More than 200 women are beneficiaries of this amazing initiative,grouped in SACCOS of 30-40 people. Mukisa Maize Mill offers market to over 20 maize out growers and have formed partnerships with the smallholder farmers. What this means is that the farmers are assured of the market for their produce all year round.
After graduating from Makerere Business School with a Bachelor’s Degree in Procurement and Supply Chain Management in 2016, Agatha Nalubwama the daughter to Mrs. Lubwama went back home to help the women to run the business.
“We look for enterprising women to work with them as out growers. We buy their produce during the harvest period, process it and supply to schools, retail shops, wholesalers and other organizations in Kayunga. We also support them from the time of planting, pruning, weeding till harvesting season,” She remarks.
Mukisa Maize Mill recently participated in the proposal writing competition under dfcu bank’s initiative dubbed ‘Rising Woman’ in partnership with Daily Monitor and Uganda Investment Authority that ran from July to November 2018.
The Business proposal writing competition was aimed at giving women an opportunity to articulate their business ideas in writing and win partial funding for the same. A total of over eighty 80 business proposals were submitted and independently vetted from which twenty (20) businesses had a chance to vie for the top ten (10) spots. They emerged among the best top ten women entrepreneurs for their business proposal winning a trip to Nairobi for a study tour to learn from the Kenyan women business counterparts.
The concept of their proposal is to acquire more land, increase on out growers and mechanize the production consequently expanding their market to DRC, Rwanda,and Sudan. This will enable them to supply super maize meal for the local and regional markets.
“We decided to continue dealing in maize production because it’s an indigenous crop and an important staple food for the urban poor and is the primary food source in institutions such as schools, prisons, military, and the police. Besides matooke, Maize floor is the most consumed food in Uganda as you can get porridge and maize bread out of it” she adds.
According to Agatha, she came across the ‘Rising woman’ opportunity while perusing through Daily Monitor. She was inspired by the stories she read about other women entrepreneurs and she was convinced right away that it was something she definitely knew would interest her group to participate in.
Agatha had the opportunity of representing her group in Nairobi and this is what she had to say “I have gained so much knowledge, this trip gave me more confidence in what we are doing and I plan to pass on the knowledge acquired to my team and also implement the learnings to make our group better”.
High electricity tariffs and inadequate storage facilities have been one of the challenges the group is currently facing.
She goes ahead to caution other women “You should be an entrepreneur because that is the heritage you leave for your children. And every woman has the capacity to buildan empire, you can go to greater heights more than you can imagine. The possibilities are endless.