By Bright Balinaine
Patrick Bbale was orphaned at infancy. Since his family had no source of income, the Primary Six dropout and his siblings had to look for alternative means of survival.
The easiest choice available for Bbale was business, which he thought would give him quick returns. He lived with eight friends in a house, for which they paid sh30,000 in rent
By the time he was 13 years old, he had started feeling the pinch of renting a house. Often, when they failed to pay rent, the landlord locked Bbale and his friends out of the house.
“It was so tough for me that I started dreaming of building my own house, however small it would be,” says Bbale.
Sources of income
Bbale joined his elder brother, who was a street vendor and started selling fast food (specifically chips and chicken) in Kansanga, a Kampala suburb.
After working with his brother for three years, Bbale chose to work elsewhere because he had failed to save any money.
“I got a job with a restaurant as a cleaner. This job opened my eyes to saving,” Bbale explains.
He started saving sh1,000 daily, for a period of one year. Everyday, he was paid sh2,000. By the end of the year, he had saved sh360,000, which was too little for him to buy a plot of land.
In a bid to earn more money, Bbale took on more work in the restaurant. For instance, he started serving food to clients. After sometime, he was employed as a waiter. His daily pay rose to sh3,000 and he subsequently started saving sh2,000 a day, for the next three years.
When his savings reached sh3.6m, he bought a plot of land in Kitintale, a Kampala suburb, in 2008, at sh3m.
Saving for the construction
His intention was to start building as soon as he bought the plot, but that was not possible as he had only sh600,000 left. He set out to look for a better-paying job.
In 2009, he got a job at Hotel Astoria in Kampala, as a chef. He was earning sh6,000 a day and sh2,000 for transport. He was also given free meals, both lunch and supper at the hotel.
“I saved sh6,000 each day. After one year, I bought materials for the foundation of the house.” As Bbale saved up, he lived in a room whose rent was sh25,000 per month.
Being his first time to build a house, Bbale did not know the quantity, cost or type of materials he needed.
When he contacted a builder, he discovered that the savings he had made were not enough to complete the foundation. Because his plot was waterlogged, it made it more costly to build the foundation.
Starting his own business
After realising he was not able to save enough money, Bbale started his own business, in order to save more money.
In 2012, he bought two frying pans at sh30,000, a bag of Irish potatoes at sh250,000, a bag of charcoal at sh80,000, two charcoal stoves at sh40,000, a 20-litre jerrycan of cooking oil at sh60,000, 10 chicken at sh70,000 and paid sh90,000 rent for three months.
He then embarked on selling chips and chicken.
He expanded the business to include deep-fried fish and roasted meat. With time, Bbale was saving sh20,000 per day, which he did for one year.
Bbale in his car
Starting the construction
By 2013, Bbale had accumulated more than sh9m, which he used to buy the materials to resume construction.
He bought 11,000 bricks at sh1.3m, three truck-loads of sand at sh210,000, timber at sh530,000 and 15 iron bars at sh250,000. T
he other materials he bought include nails at sh170,000, 16 pieces of ironsheets at sh468,000, 30 bags of cement at sh750,000 and paid the builders sh1.5m to construct up to the ring beam.
In total, it cost him about sh5.6m
The construction was speedy because all the required materials were available. After one-and-a-half months, the house was ready.
Finishing the house
As the construction progressed, Bbale started planning for doors, windows and paint.
He bought four metallic doors at sh1.4m, four windows at sh800,000, paint at sh200,000 and set aside sh150,000 as labour for the builders to do the finishing.
The house is divided into two, with each side having a sitting room, bedroom and bathroom. He chose to rent it out to two tenants, to earn more money.
Advice and future plans
“To build a house, one needs patience and to develop a strong saving culture,” says Bbale.
“Regardless of whether the earnings are small, you can save some money. I earned little, but saved whatever was possible and limited my expenditures.”