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Cassava seller builds rentals, own housePublish Date: Dec 03, 2013
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ONE STEP AT A TIME: Ssenoga's house is still in the making. PHOTO/Owen Wagabaza

By Owen Wagabaza

He grew up admiring beautiful homes and despite having a troubled childhood, his determination to own one in the future did not diminish. Today, Joseph Ssenoga, a father of four, is the proud owner of three rental units and a residential house.

“I grew up with my mother in Masaka and I used to visit my uncles in Makindye during holidays. Makindye has many beautiful homes, which I admired. I kept dreaming of owning one when I grew up,” says Ssenoga, a cassava seller in Masajja.

Venturing into business

Born to Francis Kawesa Musaayi of Makindye and Annet Nakalema of Masaka in 1975, Ssenoga had his early education in Masaka, but dropped out of school in Senior Two due to financial constraints.

It was then that he decided to come to Kampala to search for a job. He started making bricks to raise capital. After the sale of his bricks, Ssenoga raised sh400,000, which he used to start a business of selling matooke. He later abandoned the matooke and started dealing in cassava, which he still does.

Ssenoga says with proper planning and a good saving culture, his cassava business has been able to grow from selling one bag a day, to a pick-up truck. “By midday, all the cassava is finished,” Ssenoga says.

He says he makes between sh70,000 and sh120,000 profits a day. “From my savings, I built three rental units and a residential house,” Ssenoga adds.

Ssenoga makes between sh70,000 and sh120,000 profits from cassava everyday. PHOTO/Owen Wagabaza

Building his dream house

Despite owning four rental units, Ssenoga’s dream of owning a magnificent house resurfaced after getting a stable income. “With my kind of job, I had lost hope of building a bungalow, but when a neighbour opposite my workplace built a nice house, I challenged myself to save and build one too,” Ssenoga says.

In December 2011, Ssenoga started saving sh50,000 daily and by July 2012, he had raised sh13m, which he used to buy a plot in Masajja Kibira zone B. He then saved again for another three months, raising sh5m. “Having built the rental units earlier on, I knew quite well that I would carry out the project in phases, so the sh5m was enough to kickstart the project,” he adds.

Ssenoga’s house has five-bedrooms, spacious living and dining rooms, two bathrooms and two toilets.

Of the sh5m, Ssenoga used sh2.1m to buy 15,000 bricks, each costing sh140. Sh1.2m was spent on buying 40 bags of cement at sh31,000 each. He also bought five trips of lake sand, each costing sh200,000.

“I would pay the workers at the end of the week, depending on what they had done,” Ssenoga says. As the project progressed, I continued saving and this helped me to buy construction material for the next phase.

“In preparation for the project, I stocked 200 bags of charcoal, so whenever I ran out of cash, I would sell charcoal to raise the money.

“Every month, I earn sh1m from my rental units, so this gave me a big boost. When the house reached the ring beam, I bought 40 iron bars at sh1m. I also bought 25 bags of cement and 12 trips of sand at sh1.2m. Timber cost sh2.7m, while nails cost sh150,000,” Ssenoga says.

His house has eight big windows and two small ones. These, together with one big door, cost Ssenoga sh3.5m and over sh6.5m on versatile iron sheets.

He earns sh1m a month from his rental units. PHOTO/Owen Wagabaza

Altogether, Ssenoga says he has spent over sh60m on the structure in one year. He is yet to fix glass in the windows, finish the house with tiles, as well as connect it to water and electricity.

He believes the house may cost him about sh80m on completion. Ssenoga expects to move into the house by early next year. “I am taking my time because I want to have a nice house,” he says.

His secret is hard work, a good saving culture and being ambitious. “Nothing is impossible if you believe in yourself,” he says.

In numbers

Sh60m - the money spent on building his residential house in the last one year

Sh20m - the money Senoga needs to complete his residential house

Sh5m - the money he saved to kick-start his project

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