By Glorias Musiime
Being a son of a peasant, Paul Kayenje had to work hard to make ends meet.
After graduating with a degree in education from Makerere University in 1998, Kayenje taught in different schools. He says he found his salary of sh200,000 per month too little to cater for his family.
“On many occasions, we slept hungry because I could not afford two meals a day for my family,” Kayenje says.
As one of the ways to deal with the little income, I enrolled my children in Government-aided schools so that I would be relieved from paying school fees.
However, despite the hardships, one thing he thanks his job for was the fact that it came with free accommodation.
Starting a nursery bed
In 2008, while a principal of a school in Kampala, Kayenje visited his parents’ home. He saw his elder brother’s project – a nursery bed – and discovered that he was earning much more than he (Kayenje) did. When he returned to his school, he resigned his position.
He relocated his family to his parents in the village and joined his brother in selling seedlings. For the start, he lived in his mother’s house as he planned to build his own.
Kayenje started out with sh400,000, which he used to buy seedlings of eucalyptus and pine.
After three months, he sold the eucalyptus seedling at sh50, while the pine seedling went for sh300. By the time he sold the last seedling, Kayenje had realised sh3.5m.
From that money, he used sh1m to buy bricks. He reinvested the balance into the business.
This time, he then increased his investments. He grew 30,000 pine seedlings and 20,000 of eucalyptus. He also bought seeds of fruits, which he planted.
After three months, he sold the seedlings and raised sh11m. With this money, he was ready to start constructing his house.
When Kayenje met the engineer, he was told the house he wanted would cost him sh30m. Since he was buying materials seasonally, it meant he would take longer than he previously had thought.
He started building in 2009. Each time he sold off his seedlings, Kayenje constructed a section of his house.
How he built his house
Because he was buying materials seasonally and wanted to own the house immediately, he was forced to work harder.
With sh11m, he bought iron bars, nails, ironsheets, cement, wooden doors and window frames. He also bought sand.
Kayenje’s brother gave him the timber that he used on the house.
Despite the ridicule from some people, Kayenje says his earnings, compared to what he got as a teacher, have almost tripled.
From his earnings, he is able to pay school fees for his children. He also rears exotic goats and he is grazing cows.
He says he often gets clients from organisations. For instance, he has planted more than 20,000 oranges and mangoes for the National Agricultural Advisory Services.
Sometimes during dry seasons, water gets scarce, but it has never dented his resolve. He says sometimes when he needs more labour, he employs workers.
“However, they do not last on the job because many of them consider it ‘dirty’ work,” he says.