Odd jobs made my business - Prof. Nuwagaba

By Vision Reporter

Added 29th April 2012 04:22 PM

Professor Augustus Nuwagaba is the managing consultant of REEV Consult International and a poverty eradication consultant in the African region.

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Professor Augustus Nuwagaba is the managing consultant of REEV Consult International and a poverty eradication consultant in the African region.

By Elizabeth Namazzi

Professor Augustus Nuwagaba is the managing consultant of REEV Consult International and a poverty eradication consultant in the African region.

He, however, started making money long before he got a degree and used savings from odd jobs to start a real estate business. He shares his odd jobs experience . . .

As we celebrate Labour Day, I advise unemployed graduates to do whatever job comes their way as they wait for better jobs. I keep telling my students that before they get the job they studied for, they should do any job that is available.

Do not allow yourself to lack money when there are things to do. If the job you studied for eventually comes along, well and good. Until then, find something to do and earn a living.

I will use my real life experience to prove that any job can earn you money. My father died when I was only four years old. So, I grew up with my mother. Unfortunately, she also passed on when I was in S.2.

Her death was very hard on me because I felt that the only person I had been looking up to had been taken away from me. I felt anchorless because she had been everything to me.

On my own

I realised that I was on my own and that I was totally in charge of my destiny. I decided to be very disciplined and hardworking. Although my sisters took over and started paying school fees for my brother and I, I decided to look for means of survival to supplement their help.

My decision to find odd jobs was also based on the fact that my mother had taught me never to live without a coin in my pockets. This is why I had a bank account by the time I was in S.1.

So when my mother died, I started working as a porter at construction sites. I was in a day school up to S.4 so I would work in the evenings after school and on weekends.

Doing odd jobs

I learnt how to make bricks and as a result, I made the bricks that built Lugalama cathedral in Kabale. I would make 500 bricks a day and, upon receiving my pay, I would save it and wait for the holidays when I would invest it in produce business.

I would travel to Kasonganyange in Kasese district to buy maize and maize flour because it was very profitable. At the time, the Rwenzururu movement was at its height so travelling to Kasese was very risky.

The Rwenzururu fighters would kill people in lodges. So, I would sleep in Lwimi town under lorries. In business, high risks translate to higher profits, the Rwenzurur movement made my produce business very lucrative.

One sack of maize would earn me a 400% profit once I reached Kabale. I would save some of the money and use the rest to supplement my sister’s help.

I also engaged in commercial farming by growing tomatoes and supplying them to Highland Hotel and other hotels in Kabale. I also supplied some schools with my tomatoes.

After S.6, I worked as a waiter in Highland Hotel and the best lesson I learnt as a waiter was that it is very important to make friends. I made an army of friends who used to tip me whenever I served them well. Some of those people are still my friends today.

Odd jobs as a graduate

I continued doing odd jobs even when I joined the London School of Economics for a master of science degree in economics. I never used a single cent of my scholarship money because I started doing my odd jobs again. I got a job as a cleaner at a hospital near the London School of Economics.

I would wake up at 4:00am and go to the hospital to clean. By 8:00am, I would be at the London School of Economics in time for my lectures. By the time I returned to Uganda, I had a lot of money. So, I started a real estate business.

Business from odd jobs

That business is doing very well today. I am always involved in the construction work. So I work with the people at the construction sites. My background as a potter has paid off because I am making money from real estate today. It is very easy for me to do and supervise construction work at my construction sites because I started doing this work at an early age.

Secure a livelihood

Going by my experience, I always tell my students, especially the third year students when they are about to graduate, that it is good to study but nobody is interested in their qualifications. If the job you studied for has not come, do any job that comes your way instead of sitting around waiting for a white collar job.

We are in the private sector, so if a job is available and you can do it, go for it because what matters today is securing a livelihood. Nobody in a liberal economy like Uganda’s is interested in your papers. People, especially those in the private sector are interested in what you can do.

I was never a poor student because I was willing to do every job that came my way. Today I can handle several things at a time because I started doing several jobs at an early age.

Odd jobs made my business - Prof. Nuwagaba

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