Asiimwe started honey business after losing her job
By Francis Otucu
Winnie Sandra Asiimwe, a psychologist by profession lost her job due to the 2020 Covid-19 lockdown.
This made her think outside the box. Unlike many who spend recklessly, Asiimwe had saved some money. After a year in unemployment, she decided to invest her savings in honey business.
Asiimwe joined the honey selling business in February 2021.
“I have been unemployed for a year now. I was laid off from work and job hunting has not been easy. So, I decided to let myself start honey selling business,” Asiimwe says.
She also sells perfumes because honey market isn’t readily
“I sell honey but I also sell perfumes on the sides,” she says.
Although she doesn’t make a lot of profit, she says she’s better off than being unemployed.
“The business has its good months, good weeks and then the low ones,” Asiimwe says. This is because her customers prefer quality honey.
“People want to get what they want. They want organic, thick honey with no additives,” she explains.
Asiimwe adds that there are seasons when the quality of honey is good and poor.
“Sometimes it’s the hot seasons, so it affects the quality of flowers, plants produce low nectar and so it affects the quality and everything. And since I have not been in this for so long, I want to keep it that way. I want to keep the quality,” she says, admitting that ensuring quality throughout the year is hard to achieve.
“Given the changes in the weather, quality is not the same all through,” she says.
Asimmwe started with capital of about Shs1.2 million.
She used it to buy honey and transport it from West Nile as well as repackaging it into liters.
She does her packaging in 1, 2 and 5 liters. However, most of her buyers buy a liter. Asiimwe sells a liter of honey at Shs20, 000 but she declined to reveal how many litres she sells in a month.
She is yet to trade under a trade name even though she has secured a company name.
“I am just looking at trading under a company. I have gotten a company name but you know when you are just starting, trying to start small. I don’t even have a logo or anything written on them. I want to start up a company but I am not yet there because I started with very little savings and I consider this a baby growing up,” she says.
Asiimwe basically does deliveries.
“When someone says I want a perfume and a liter of honey, I ask for a location and I will have them on a boda and they will come to you and you will send money via mobile money platform,” she says.
Besides the local market, one of her biggest buyers is in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Her customer in Dubai sells 5 liters of honey at 80AED, an equivalent of Shs 800, 000. She says this sale is because of the quality which comes with the product being organic.
To ensure quality, Asiimwe interacts with her suppliers. If it’s a season with poor quality honey, she does not take orders from the supplier.
“I also call my supplier but there is not much that we can do. When it happens, I tell my supplier, if the honey is not as good as what I want, just let me know so that I wait a bit because I don’t want to give my customers what they won’t like and definitely won’t come back. I like having good customer feedback,” Asiimwe says.
She adds: “I really look at customer retention because the customer will come back after two or three years or even less, will recommend etc. So, I told her (supplier), if the honey is not as good as I want it, it’s better you let me know and then I will wait to take my order. Because it’s the quality that I want.”
Honey is something that is used on a daily basis, she says.
“Like it’s unfair to walk into a home and it doesn’t have honey. Health-wise, it’s good for wounds. My sister underwent cesarean. Her wound became septic and then after so many visits to the doctor, we went to a different doctor. This doctor was like, you know, do you have organic honey? Come with it the next time you are coming,” she says.
She adds: “The next time we returned, this man just cleaned the wound, applied honey and said, you will be fine and guess what, honey just did magic and this was a big cut. I was like wow! All this time, honey can actually do this? Put honey in a fresh wound, it is going to be well. Weight loss. I have seen my sister lose weight because of honey, from 80 Kgs to 55 Kgs in about 4 months.”
According to Asiimwe, to achieve weight loss, you have to replace sugar with honey.
“Get rid of sugar. Take dry tea, milk, everything with honey, not sugar,” she says, adding: “Every morning, my sister would have lemon tea with honey in it. First thing in the morning. Also, honey helps with flu and cough at home. If the honey is organic, it will do the magic.”
For diabetic persons, Asiimwe says honey is fair compared to sugar.
After taking orders, her supplier puts the order in a bus to Kampala. Asiimwe then sends her boda person to pick it for repackaging.
Asiimwe says that whereas she interests people in the honey business, it doesn’t bring in much profit. Therefore, she suggests another source of income, just like she has a perfume business.
“I would advise someone to join this business because it brings in some money. You get your money back with a little profit. However, it also depends on what someone is looking out for. It’s good to have another thing that is running because it’s hard to gain much from it. If you want huge profits, honey won’t give you that. That’s why you see other people trying to add other things because they are trying to make huge profit from it but honestly, it doesn’t have that much profit. Have another source of income as well and then the only disadvantage about it is just basically the change in seasons which affects the quality of honey plus of course the good and the bad months,” she says.
“I did psychology, guidance and counseling from Nkumba University. I was a counselor in Kisubi High. I work with NGOs, would go upcountry and do outreaches until I realized I needed a permanent job. That’s when I joined Orange (then) in 2014 to 2019 (December),” she says.
However, her contract expired and was never renewed.
“My contract ended and was never renewed because the company was trying to downsize. I lived on savings all through the lockdown until I realized I needed to do something with what I had saved because I didn’t know when I will get employed again. So, I said, why can’t I invest this money? That time, I was also thinking and scared to even take a step. I was thinking, will I make the right decision. I finally made that decision in February. Business is all about risking,” she says.
At her former workplace, she wasn’t earning as much but she labored to save some money at the end of every month.
“I wasn’t earning that much. It was 750K with 560K as take home. From that I would save. I had the discipline of saving. I would push myself hard. I would save 200, 000 monthly, sometimes I would push to 300, 000 or 100, 000 when I had a lot of bills to pay but I didn’t allow myself close a month without saving some money,” Asiimwe explains.
In her advice to the young people, Asiimwe says no one should be comfortable.
“We shouldn’t get very comfortable with what we have because we don’t know what tomorrow holds. Who knew we were going to be in a lockdown, like the entire world? We all had something to learn from the lockdown. People didn’t have savings. No farms that I am going to go to, to pick what to eat. You need something that will give you extra money. That could help sort other matters,” she says.
She adds: “I think we should have a discipline of saving and investment. From the savings, you can choose to invest. You can do something that doesn’t affect your time at work. If it’s a job, I will still go for it. My business is basically online. I don’t have money for rent. I am just basically at home.”