When the government suspended public transport as part of the COVID-19 containment measures, Henry Bukenya found himself in a dilemma. Prior to the lockdown, used to give out motorcycles to Boda boda riders in Matugga in Wakiso District on loan.
The lockdown restrictions saw the riders restricted to carry language, which affected their earnings. As a result, many of the riders couldn’t service their loans. Many of the riders abandoned the Boda boda business, which had a huge impact on Bukenya’s business.
Bukenya’s rice distribution business was also not doing well due to the ban on public transport, which made the transportation of rice from Mbale to Kampala challenging.
Additionally, the demand for rice was very low since the majority of his customers were facing financial challenges resulting from the lockdown.
According to Bukenya, due to the numerous challenges, he also failed to service the loans he was using to run his business. He started selling some of his property to raise money to service the bank loans.
According to Bukenya, he decided to consult some of his friends on what to do to survive the lockdown. One of his friends advised him to try carpentry.
Bukenya explains that despite coming up with the idea of carpentry, they didn’t have the capital to begin a workshop because they needed machines and timber to start. He decided to use the Shillings 1million had saved to service his loan as capital.
According to Bukenya, they used to take their timber to a nearby carpenter who had a machine for cutting for a fee. He explains that they started by making sideboards, tables, and kitchen furniture, which was not available in Matugga then.
According to Bukenya, he doesn’t regret joining the carpentry business because. “In one month if I add up with all expenses I can bag two million Shillings in a venture of two years compared to my loan business, which used to give me over four million and I had operated it for 10 years,” Bukenya narrates.
John Alex Simiyu, a senior five-student says that his brother called him to start carpentry in his workshop when the government imposed the first lockdown. He is grateful that he will return to school with a new skill, which and has earned him some money.