Youth unemployment has been described as a time bomb in Uganda. With youth unemployment standing at over 60% in Uganda, criminality and widespread poverty are no doubt set to increase.
However, the youth are increasingly becoming innovative; they have taken on the bull by the horns.
Eric Ssebuliba, a resident of Sonde-Goma-Mukono, is one of the youths trying to make a difference. He specializes in arts and crafts that can him as high as Shs4m on a good day.
Ssebuliba’s love for crafts started at an early age.
“I started doing this work when I was in primary three. I crafted many different art pieces including people’s faces, various animals, airplanes and flower pots among many others,” Ssebuliba reminisces in an interview with Business Focus.
He reveals that he got this crafts-making idea from ‘The Nile English Course’, where he read a story of young people that managed to craft different art pieces.
“From as early as primary, I believed I could do this work. It is this urge that kept driving me on,” youthful Ssebuliba says.
He adds: “When I completed my senior four, I joined Michelangelo School of Art in Kisubi. Here, I was given additional skills that made me become more ‘senior’ in my work.”
Ssebuliba’s story fulfils the saying ‘start small and grow big’. This is because his beginning wasn’t easy.
“I used an initial capital of Shs50, 000. I used this money to buy some paint for painting crafts and other materials. Since I was in a relatively village setting by then (Sonde), it was very easy for me to get clay soil that is suitable for making fine crafts free of charge,” he explains.
To make his project viable, he partnered with a friend, Tonny Kayanja, who he studied with and started a workshop that they named K-Boys.
Variety of Products
Ssebuliba says that they make different art pieces depending on clients’ needs.
“For example, we can make an art piece of a person-the way he/she looks like in portrait of full size,” he says.
He adds that he also makes crafts for different animals like lions, dogs, leopards, cows and birds like peacock among others and crawling animals like snakes and paintings for fruits like sweet bananas, avocadoes, pineapples, jackfruits among many others. They also make flower pots of various sizes and shapes for all places.
Market and Prices
Ssebuliba tells Business Focus that the price for their products varies. “For example, we sell flower pots ranging between Shs20, 000 and 100,000 depending on the size.
Animals crafts like for lions are sold at between Shs800, 000 to Shs1500, 000 while birds go for Shs120, 000 and fruits go for between Shs5, 000 to Shs10, 000,” he says.
He says that the market for their products is available. His clients range from tourists and high class Ugandans who love fine things.
“Although sometimes the money delays to come in, when it comes, it comes in good sums,” he boasts.
He happily reveals that on a good day, they can sell crafts to the tune of Shs4m. “It is from this money that we pay rent and buy quality materials,” he says.
They have been able to rent a building that they have turned into their craft shop and showroom in Bweyogerere, Kampala.
Ssebuliba has also managed to build a residential house out of his work and he is happily married. He says he has also managed to go back to school to further his education in the same field in addition to getting uncountable valuable friends.
He says that the biggest challenge is that most Ugandans do not appreciate the beauty of art and as a result, they do not get the desired support. This makes their market limited. He also adds that some clients make orders for art pieces and when they are finished, they never come back to pay the balance and pick their products.
“What pains me much is that many people take this work to be for only people that never went to school. People always under look us,” Ssebuliba sadly says. He adds that sometimes the art pieces take so long on the shelves which affects their cash flow.
Advice To The Youth
“I encourage people especially unemployed youth to never despise jobs. The world has changed, you need to work very hard,” he says.
He adds: “This unemployment trend can be reversed as long as the youth change their mentality towards work.”