“I can’t spend a day without a customer”, were the words Irene Basemera the proprietor of Shalom Beauty salon in Fort Portal City told Enabel at our recent visit.
She revealed that she earns between Sh.10,000 to Sh.30,000 per day when it is not a busy season but this goes up to Sh.80,000 during the Christmas and Easter seasons.
“I advise fellow women to acquire a skill because you cannot sleep hungry,” Basemera intimated. She completed Senior four but lacked school fees to continue her education. It was during this period that she became pregnant in her senior four vacation and had to fend for herself and her child.
Basemera, who is a Sunday school pastor at New Hope Family Worship Centre says she preaches the message of skilling whenever she gets a chance both at her church and saloon. Though her dream was to be a teacher, she doesn’t regret the path she took because her saloon and church are now her education platforms.
Basemera and Teddy Kabahweza underwent a 6 months’ training course in hairdressing at Yawe Foundation, an Enabel Skills Development Fund grantee during 2018.
The duo received a startup kit which included a big dryer, a hand dryer and a sink key instruments to run a successful saloon business. Although they had to temporarily close their business during 2020 and 2021 when all saloons were closed as a measure to limit the spread of COVID-19, the duo has not looked back since businesses were fully opened.
“From this saloon we have been able to take care of our personal welfare and pay school fees for our children,” she admits.
“We have injected in more money from loans so that we can grow our business,” Basemera explains. They are both members of the Turibamu Village saving group from which they have borrowed capital up to Sh2,500,000 at a monthly interest rate of 1.5 per cent. Although they have not yet got students to train in the same trade, they pledge to ask a minimal fee since they too were helped at no cost to acquire the skills. They would require them to pay about sh.400,000 to cater for training materials such as braids and chemicals for a 6months course.
They hope to have expanded their business within the next three years and started a Beauty training school as well. The 26-year-old would like to receive more training in making beads, baking cakes and cosmetology so that she has a one stop centre for her clients who include bridal entourages. Currently her salon has weaves, skin care and hair relaxing products. But to diversify their income, the duo prepares French fries (chips) and other snacks in front of their premises to serve to other customers during evening hours.
Basemera and Kabahweza are part of the 3,153 youths that have been skilled in the Albertine/ Rwenzori region by Enabel, through its Support to Skilling Uganda project aimed at equipping youths with skills for economic transformation and self-reliance.