Drichi Richard, 31 came to Uganda from South Sudan in 2015. He had been displaced during a civil war between the ruling South Sudanese government then and opposition forces. On reaching Uganda, he continued with his education but dropped out of school after completing Senior Four due to lack of school fees. Since then, he hardly did anything productive.
His life began to change when he applied for training in bakery skills.
“I saw a poster advertising various trainings and I chose to apply for bakery because I had always had the desire to learn how to bake.”
Richard was among the 8 youths that were trained in the art of baking by Windle International, one of the implementing partners of Enabel. They learnt how to bake cookies and cakes using local ovens (charcoal stoves, saucepans and hot sand). They also learnt how to make chapatti, mandazi, samosas and daddies. After the 3 months training, Richard and another trainee were placed at a local bakery in Adjumani town for internship. It was at that bakery that Richard saw an electric oven for the first time and learnt how to use it. He also learnt how to use an electric dough mixer and a cake mixer.
“We learnt a lot of things during internship because the owner of the bakery was very welcoming and willing to support us but unfortunately, the training was too short to get more skills because it was only 2 weeks long”.
After the internship, Richard received a start-up kit and fortunately because of his good performance, he was retained to work at the bakery for UGX150,000($42) a month. After just two months of employment, Richard decided to leave his job because he felt that he could make more money if he owned his own bakery.
Having grown up seeing his mother build local ovens for a living, Richard used his memory and applied his mother’s technique to build an oven which uses firewood. He resorted to specializing in baking cookies because they have a longer shelf life and also because he noticed how much the children in his community loved cookies.
He packs the cookies in buckets and his biggest bucket goes for UGX 50,000($14), while the smaller bucket goes for UGX 30,000($8). Richard sells each cookie at UGX 100.
His peak seasons are during school visitation days when parents buy the cookies to take for their children at school. His customers are mainly from Adjumani and some are from Nimule. He also sells the cookies on market days which happen once a month. On a very good day, Richard can make UGX 75,000($21). Richard’s sales also go up during the days when the World Food Programme distributes food in the refugee settlement. During that time, which happens once a month, many people gather together to receive their food rations and the distribution usually takes long. People get hungry and buy Richard’s cookies especially for their children.
Yumbe district is home to one of the largest refugee camps in Uganda. Bidi Bidi refugee settlement located in the eastern part of Yumbe is home to more than 250,000 South Sudanese refugees (about half the population of Wyoming), 80% of whom are women and children.
Using the proceeds from his business, Richard set up a drug shop that earns him at least UGX 10,000($3) a day. He also wants to start a poultry farm as soon as he saves enough money to start.
“When I save enough, I will start a poultry farm so that I can widen my income sources. I have trained my wife to bake cookies so that when I get very busy with the poultry farm, she will be able to keep the bakery business running.”
Richard has recently ordered a bigger oven from a professional who is in the process of building it. With a bigger oven, Richard will be able to bake more cookies at once and therefore increase his sales and earn more revenue.