BY DANIEL KABUGO, UGANDA PROGRAMME MANAGER
It has been a real privilege to watch the ‘Ebenezer Boys’ grow up into hard-working and caring young men over the past 13 years. They are a key part of the Adara family.
A primary goal of the Ebenezer Boys programme is to break the cycle of destitution and poverty of their younger years, to help the boys live independently, with a focus on helping them develop vocational skills so they are able to get a job and support themselves after they graduate from Adara’s care. We are really proud of boys like Michael, who are taking their skills, learning new skills, and becoming truly independent and upstanding members of their community.
Michael studied Motor Vehicle Mechanics at Lady Valeria Vocational Institute. While at school, he was frustrated by how the school canteens were operating, with high costs for food and drinks, and often substandard food sold.
He had a dream to start a canteen at school to offer better services. When I asked Michael if he had any fears about starting such a venture, he said he had no fears as he knew the weaknesses of his competitors and he was determined to offer better service!
Adara offers the boys a small amount of startup capital when they graduate to help buy tools or other materials needed to start their businesses. However Michael did not wait for the startup capital from Adara. Instead, he began to work and save for this idea on his own.
HOW DID MICHAEL RAISE START-UP CAPITAL FOR HIS BUSINESS IDEA?
To raise the money to start his business, Michael cleaned the school secretary’s office, fetched the water for the teachers using a wheel barrow and cleaned the compound, receiving a monthly salary.
By doing this work, Michael saved $300 (UGX1.1 million) by the end of his studies which he used to purchase a bicycle and start a canteen at the school.
He approached the school principal who granted him the permission to start the canteen. She even set up a shelter for him, and Michael started the business.
Initially, Michael had challenges from three competitors, but he was able to out-compete two and currently has just one competitor. When asked how he managed to do this, he talked about the importance of super customer service. I was impressed when the registrar of the school came to share with me how Mike’s approach to his customers is amazing.
Michael was able to connect power to the canteen, buy a fridge, and employ a canteen attendant to help him with accounting and record keeping as well as serving. He sells food like pancakes, cakes and drinks like sodas and juice. He earns approximately UGX15,000 shillings profits per day.
Michael has been able to rent two houses, one for himself and another for the mother who helps him with supervising the canteen.
According to the academic registrar, “Michael is a role model to the teachers and the students due to his business ideas and hard work. He always brings tea, eats and sodas during break and lunch time to the staff room and everyone is always enticed to buy”.
He also added that Michael is always punctual, humble, and so clean and smart, which is how he attracts people to eat whatever he prepares. He takes the service to his customer.
NEXT STEPS FOR MICHAEL
Adara paid Michael his startup capital of UGX1.2 million shillings and he has rented a garage for six months where he will set up his workshop to pursue his motor vehicle mechanics training. He has also bought some tools and equipment.
He already has customers! He wasn’t to use this business to employ and empower other youths, but he needs to work and raise more money first.
Michael also has a great social conscience. While still studying, Michael used his pocket money to sponsor a needy child from Kiwoko with his pocket money. Now that he has a business, Michael will continue to support the child, and is helping the child attend school.