I come from Karamoja region, in northwestern Uganda. It is also a place with rich culture, and where such culture is cherished. So, when I returned home during the COVID-19 lockdown, I decided to start a fashion business that would promote fabrics from my culture. But first, from the stipend I get from the MasterCard Foundation as part of my education scholarship, I enrolled for a course in tailoring. After three months, I was able to make my own designs. So, I started my fashion project which I named Afribeauty Fashion House.
At the moment, Afribeauty Fashion House is a business that operates at a small scale. I make bracelets, necklaces, earrings and transform already made clothes and shoes with a touch of African print materials. I largely use social media platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp to advertise my products. But I also use word of mouth to let people in my community know about what is on offer at Afribeauty Fashion House. With commitment and hard work, I can report that the project has started flourishing.
And through it, I have managed to get the following benefits: Coming from a low-income household, it has helped boost the family finances. We use the extra money to buy food and other essential items needed at home. I have also used the experience from running this business to teach my siblings and other young girls in the community about life skills. That also means I have additional help in making the products we require to sell.
Like any other business, I have also faced some challenges in the process of implementing the project. Purchasing materials to use especially during the lockdown when non-essential businesses were not allowed to operate became challenging. However, with the easing of some of the restrictions, this challenge has been addressed. There has also been a challenge of getting to the customers since the platform I use to advertise—social media is not one that many people in my region use.
All in all, though, I am glad that what started off as a small idea when we broke off to return home during COVID-19 is able to bring in an extra income for my family. I’d like to appreciate the MasterCard Foundation for bringing out the best in me through this opportunity. Because of this, I have also learnt the benefit of always supporting those around me with knowledge and skills that I can offer.
By Margaret Loruk Jaka