Charity Ainembabazi at the quarry (Photo Credit Samuel Amanya)
A 22-year-old female student of Makerere University Business School (MUBS) has turned the nationwide lockdown to start and grow a stone quarrying business.
Charity Ainembabazi, a student of Business Administration, says the business enables her to earn sufficient income and has reversed her long story of struggles to earn a living.
On 18 March 2021, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni ordered the temporary closure of schools across the country to help Uganda tame the spread of Covid-19 that was spreading across the world. Four days later, the Ministry of Health confirmed the first case in Uganda, a situation that compelled the president to announce an extended total lockdown among other measures to help in contain the spread.
All the learners were advised to stay home and wait until the situation gets under control.
Ainembabazi, then in her second-year, was among the students that would spend over a year at home as the virus ravaged the world, killing more than five million people. More than 3,000 of these deaths were in Uganda.
Ainembabazi, a daughter to Eudia Mutabaazi of Rutooma village, in Nyabikoni ward in Kabale District, sat home with hopes that the situation would normalize in a few weeks.
She had anticipated normalcy to return within weeks but the wait turned to months and now years.
While sitting at home without money, one afternoon, Ainembabazi realized that big rocks near their house could help her generate income. She got a hammer and started quarrying. A URN reporter visited her at home over the weekend and found her sweating as she was busy quarrying.
After quarrying, Ainemabazi goes ahead to crush the stones to the size of gravel.
She explains that she thought of stone quarrying to generate income after she got tired of idleness and asking for financial help from her mother.
But she could always see vehicles in the neighbourhood transporting gravel to Kabale town and many construction projects around her village.
With less skill on how to carefully crack the rocks, she consulted her neighbours. Ainembabazi says that in May this year, she started cracking the rocks though it was hectic and tiresome work. She says that in two weeks, she was able to quarry enough gravel stones for sale.
Ainembabazi says that she was surprised when her first sale raised two hundred thousand shillings, an amount she had never earned in her lifetime.
She says she realized that business is real and doubled the efforts. She says that now the business is helping her to contribute to her university tuition. The business also helps her keep focused.
Ainembabazi says that she now has a testimony of the struggle that parents go through while raising school fees and other family needs, a lesson that she will never take for granted in her life.
She also says that on realizing how her venture was succeeding, her friends who would rarely value female students getting involved in stone quarrying are inspired and consulting her on how they could try to do the same.
She says, however, that there are others who still wonder how a female student in a tertiary institution like MUBS can resort to stone quarrying, a hectic business for the non-educated and poor. Ainembabazi says that even after lockdown, she has no plans of quitting the business after discovering how lucrative it is.
Eudia Mutabaazi says that she had at first not encouraged her daughter to take on stone quarrying but later gave up and gave a go-ahead.
Mutabaazi says that she is now happy to see Ainembabazi earning from her own sweat and hustle. She says that her daughter’s income has also started inspiring her siblings.