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Uganda: House help turned entrepreneur

  • House help turned entrepreneur

 There is a common adage; “your dreams are valid”. This applies to Jenipher Masika who since childhood aspired to become a hair dresser. She had always been amazed by the transformation women experienced after visiting a salon.   

Born 26 years ago in Karambi Sub- County in Kasese District in a family of 6 children, she describes her childhood as ‘normal’ meaning it was not different from the lives of other peasant farmers.   

This however took a twist following the death of her father when she was 6 years old. This meant that her mother had to now shoulder the responsibility of raising the six of them.   It was tough. Masika’s mother struggled to educate her daughter up to ordinary level. The school fees problem worsened. There was no money. With no one else to turn to, Masika had to painfully dropout of school.     

To provide for her needs, she looked for a job. Masika was hired as a maid, a job she did for two years.   It is during this time that she heard an announcement on radio about a skilling opportunity at Karambi Action for Life Improvement (KALI), a Nongovernmental Organisation in Kasese.    The organisation had received funding from Enabel to train 65 young people in labour market relevant skills.

Masika considered it an excellent opportunity of fulfilling her childhood desire so she wasted no time in applying. And few weeks later, she was delivered good news.   

“I was very excited to receive my admission to the course I have always wanted – hairdressing. I knew my future was going to be bright,” a beaming Masika recollects.    The training was very practical.    ” We were given training materials which made learning easy and enjoyable,” she says.  

Masika trained for 4 months. Upon completion of training, Enabel gave her startup kits which enabled her and course mates to jointly establish a saloon.    “From this salon, I saved enough money to start my own. I am now self-reliant and even support my mother and siblings when they get a problem,” Masika shares.
“I also save 5,000 shillings per week in the community saving scheme.” 

The twenty-six-year-old says the business is growing. But like any other business, there are challenges. The saloon  business requires adequate water and electricity supply. Unfortunately, both are scarce in this part of the country.  

Supporting other girls   

Having experienced a challenging childhood, Masika felt duty bound to support other girls. She trains girls interested in acquiring her skill free of charge. One of her trainees is a university graduate.    

In the next 5 years, using savings from her saloon business, Masika plans to construct some rental units to supplement her income. She also wants to further her studies in cosmetology to diversify her clientele.  

Masika is one of the young people trained by Enabel through the Support to Skilling Uganda project. The initiative aims to equip youth, women and girls with labour market relevant technical and vocational skills to enhance their employability. The project is funded by the Kingdom of Belgium.     

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