Tuesday February 2 2016

Ex- street boy inducts slum dwelling youth into work

Farouk Mujumba (R) together with Felix Kulayige

Farouk Mujumba (R) together with Felix Kulayige (in army uniform) inspect the youth taking part in mechanical works at Nakivubo stadium recently. PHOTO BY MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI 

By Jonathan Adengo

Farouk Mujumba is no ordinary person. The self-made businessman and social entrepreneur grew up doing casual jobs and sleeping on streets.
He defied the circumstances surrounding his life and persevered to the top where he created channels for youth who are going through the same pain he endured on the streets.
I first heard of him through a one Mukasa Majid, a young boy who is trying to learn how to make a living off making concrete blocks.
Mukasa narrates that a gentleman visited their Nabugabo neighbourhood, a place he earned his living from doing odd jobs.

“He asked us what we wanted to do and I suggested concrete blocks. My collegues opted for metal works,” he said.
Mujumba, who owns a company - Njumba Group of Companies - got a conviction to help street children earn a living to cut on the high unemployment rates.
Mujumba has several businesses ranging from concrete work, metal works, music and sports, fields from which the youth, especially from slums, are trained in.

He has turned Kisekka market area - a place notorious for criminals - into a goldmine. Through dialogue with Kampala Capital City Autority (KCCA) authorities, Mujumba managed to secure the place.
“The challenge was the authorities failing to hear the youth; sometimes some of them resort to bad behaviour in order to be heard,” he speaks of the rebellious nature of the youth there.
They renovated the place, set up a garden with various flowers, fruits and vegetables and contracted four mechanics to train another 200 youth in that field.

“Formerly criminals and drug addicts, the youth are now living productive lives. The place is now called Kabira Ka Jennifer Musisi and is a thriving business centre,” he explains.
He has also partnered with Moses Kayiira, a car mechanic who owns a car garage on Salaama Road, Makindye, a Kampala suburb.
Mujumba pays Kayiira who trains youth in Makindye and the surrounding areas at subsidised fee.
The Njumba Foundation has also set up a training centre in Katwe,a slum in Kampala, for metal fabrication, welding and making concrete products.

“All the concrete pavers that were used in the construction at the Kabira ka Musisi near Kiseka market were made by the youth we train,”he said.
Recently, the youth held a concert in Nakivubo stadium where they displayed their skills.
Ronald Mayinja, an artiste told the youth not to be discouraged.
“We all have the potential to make it, but most times we believe that you need a partnership with someone to become successful,” he said.
From metal fabrication to manufacturing concrete products, Mujumba makes ice cream and distributes sugar among other businesses. Mujumba, whose parents died early in life, was forced to drop out of school as early as Primary Six to fend for himself.

Unending setbacks in business rendered him homeless, driving him to the streets of Kampala.
In 1990, his mother left Nyendo with him and went back to the village in Kyanjale, in Bukoto, Masaka, because life was hard in Nyendo town. His father died shortly after in 1991.
“In Kyanjale, my mother saved some money from making pancakes [kabalagala] with which she opened up a restaurant and later a shop. Unfortunately, in 1996, she too died after a short illness,” Mujumba narrates.
Mujumba went to live with an aunt, Rose Nakagwa in Mukirumba, Masaka where he enrolled in Kiyimbwe Primary School, 30Km away from home.

Other businesses
Mujumba sold boiled maize in the evening after school. Sometimes, for fear of losing the little money he had made, he spent nights at petrol stations because it was risky to move with money at night. Over the weekends, he was a casual labourer and during the grasshopper season (usually in November), he caught and vended them.
From then, Mujumba engaged in several jobs including offloading goods in Masaka. In 2000, he came to Kampala and opened a shop in Nabugabo selling clothes and investing his proceeds in a plot of land in Kikajjo, Entebbe Road.
When his shop got burnt, Mujumba lost everything except for the plot of land which he sold at Shs5m.

He tried his hand in real estate and used to buy and sell land. One day, Sokhoti Daladala, an Indian friend, wanted to sell his house in Masaka so he tasked him to find a buyer. He got Hajjat Sarah Kiyimba, the proprietor of Hotel Brovad in Masaka, to buy the house and she paid him commission of Sh2.2m.
He used the money to buy a plot of land in Kikajjo, Masajja in Wakiso District, where he rented a house.

Turning point
“It was not until 2010, when I brokered a deal to sell two buildings that belonged to Charles Jingo to Shri Virani of Property Masters Limited for a commission of Shs180m,” Mujumba reinvested the money in the business and bought more plots of land, said.
This was his break through.
He then ventured into building rentals in Kikajjo.

Who is Farouk Mujumba?
Born in 1986 to Richard Samula and Rose Namatovu in Nyendo, Masaka, his father was a fish monger while his mother was a trader in Nyendo market.