By Esther Namirimu
The beginning was modest as Rita Jiibwa had to operate her business under the staircases in one of the buildings on Nasser Road. She started with capital of sh15,000 and invested it in selling juice. She now employs five people.
Jiibwa says she made sure that she saved money, which she used to rent a room and venture into other businesses including stationery, printing and photocopying.
However, she did not drop her juice business. She saw it as an opportunity to get more customers. With time, Jiibwa also started selling fruits, molokonyi (cow hoofs)and also sub-rented her room.
Jiibwa says she makes sure that by 5:00am, she is already in Nakasero Market to buy fresh fruits from the farmers. By 6:30am, she is at Nasser Road and starts preparing the fruits. She packs them in disposable aluminium packs of different sizes to suit different people’s purchasing power.
“I decided to use silver packs because everyone was using plastic containers and I wanted to be unique. Besides, it is hard to clean plastic containers thoroughly. It is also time saving because I do not waste a lot of time cleaning the containers,” she says.
Jiibwa adds that she sells the small packs at sh1,000 and medium size at sh2,000. She hired two ladies to help her distribute the fruits.
She says when she had just started, she would buy fruits worth sh15,000 and make sales of sh50,000 per day.
“I would pay each of my workers sh4,000 per day and the balance would be my profit. We had developed our clientele base and because of our services, we would get new customers every day,” she notes.
Jiibwa adds that to grow her clientele, she started marketing her fruits to different companies and eventually managed to supply fruits to Stanbic Bank at Arua Park, Stanbic Bank, Cham Towers and Equity Bank in Kajjansi.
“I would also sell my fruits in hospitals. I did this business for three years and then decided to venture into making juice,” she says.
Venturing into juice
Jiibwa says she was advised by her friend to invest in juice, saying it was more profitable than fruits. So around the end of 2010, she started selling juice.
Jiibwa says she buys fruits of about sh80,000 per week and after selling them, she gets sh200,000.
“I make the juice, but also leave an allowance for my employees to make some money for themselves. Each employee is supposed to give me sh20,000 every day and I do not care whether they sell juice worth sh30,000 or sh40,000, the profit is theirs, as long as each of them gives me sh20,000,” she says.
As a way of keeping her employees motivated, Jiibwa says she gives them time off to relax and be with their families. They work for only five days a week. And in addition to the sh4,000 per day, Jiibwa also pays sh50,000 per month to each employee.
“I use money from juice to pay rent, which is at sh350,000 per month, and save money from my other businesses,” she says. Jiibwa says to expand her business empire, she recently came up with an idea of selling molokonyi.
“It is a delicacy that is much liked by people, but rare on modern menus,” she adds.
Mulokony [cow hoof] business
It is about three months since Jiibwa started selling molokonyi and her customer base has already grown. “When a person buys juice, they also take interest in the molokonyi,” she says.
Jiibwa employed someone who stays at home to cook and pack the molokonyi and then takes it to the shop, where she finds people’s orders ready. She says the molokonyi business earns her sh400,000 profit per month.
Around November 2011, Jiibwa bought a saloon car commonly known as Toyota Kibiina from the profits of selling fruits and juice. However, after three months, she got an idea — renting a shop in one of the buildings on Nasser Road.
So she sold the car to raise money for rent. She approached the mangers of the building and got herself a big room, which she sub-divided and rented out.
“I earn sh1m from this shop every month. I do not regret selling my car. Since I started renting out this shop, I have seen miracles happen,” she says.
One of Jibwa's employees operating a printing machine. PHOTO/Esther Namirimu
Using profits from her other businesses, Jiibwa joined the printing business in 2001. Although she says the beginning was not easy because of competition, she says printing is so far the best business she has ventured into.
“I knew it was not easy, so I marketed myself to individuals, companies and schools. Now customers look for me. I just sit and wait for phone calls,” she says.
She owns a big offset printing machine, a photo copier and two computers. Jiibwa employs two graphic designers, one person to operate the printing machine and a lady who operates the photocopier.
“The printing business is very lucrative because on a good day, I can get a deal of sh700, 000 and even clear off the rent in one day,” says Jiibwa. In a good month she can get a deal of sh10m. She uses sh6m for capital and keeps a profit of sh4m.
Jiibwa has bought a plot of land in Lubya village near Kasubi Tombs, where she plans to put up commercial buildings.
“Last month I bought a plot of land in Nansana, where I plan to build my home,” she adds.