The ability of radio to influence people has been documented in several researches. But it is different when the listeners take advantage of their common interest to make business investments. Members of Dembe FM Fans Club told Christine Katende how this happened.
Dembe FM Fans Club was started in 2003 by the former Dembe FM director, Peter Kaba and Livingstone Musisi, who initiated the idea and shared it with listeners. Swaib Muwanga, the group’s secretary says, “This fan’s club is different from other groups in the country because we not only focus on calling in, requesting for songs and reporting what is happening in the different areas where we stay but also focus on developing ourselves and inspiring others listeners.”
In January 2013, a group of 38 active members started a poultry project with Shs2.5m, spearheaded by their president, Haji Twaha Ssonko, who offered quarter an acre of his land where they constructed the structures.
The money that was collected by members catered for the 100 chicks, feeders, feeds and drinkers, among other things. “We decided to invest in broilers because they grow faster than the other types. Now, the group has 1,000 birds,” reveals Ssemwanga.
The prices for the birds range from Shs8,000 to Shs15,000 depending on the season.
“The birds are normally booked as chicks and when buying, people take them in big numbers between 200-250,” he says. “But before bringing in new stock, we clean the rooms two weeks before, and spray them to prevent the chicks from getting infections,” he adds.
Management of the project
Haji Ssonko notes that members have been trained and equipped with knowledge on how to rear birds which makes the work easy.
They do not employ people to run the business because they have the knowledge and skills about how everything is done. “We share the roles. Some do everything throughout the week and others take over during the weekend,” he says. On purchase, the chicks are put in a room lit with electic blubs and pots filled with charcoal that are put in all the corners to provide heat.
Haji Ssonko explains that among the challenges faced in group is the problem of fake feeds that are sold on the market and the people who impersonate as new members and later disappear after sharing the ideas hence making planning hard.
This means refunding their money which would have been used for development. There are those inactive members who show interest and fail to contribute towards certain programmes which make the developments to lag behind.
Having the most disciplined members in the group, sharing new and developmental ideas are some of the achievements. The group has registered a net profit of about Shs4m since the project started.
Haji Ssonko reveals that profits are shared depending on how much a member invests.
Moses Katongole, Dembe FM Programmes Director, explains that it is through the fans that the radio gets to know what is on the ground, what people think, want and what need to be changed at the station.
“The radio station helps to promote listeners’ projects and also link them to other people. In this, we try to pay back for what they do,” he says.
The group plans to start a real estate business. “We want to start up another project where we buy and sell land to other people,” notes the president.
With the slogan Awaamu tusobola (Together we can), the group plans to open other clubs all over the country and to recruit more members.
Dembe FM fans club started 13 years ago with the aim of knowing the kind of people we broadcast to. This has helped us with research like the kind of music and programmes they like, they help in mobilizing people for the radio events among other things. It is the fans that encourage our people to listen in hence increasing on the audience.”
Robinah Mbabazi, promotions executive
“There are lots of development opportunities depending on the investments. We always meet and share ideas which help us to grow, financially and morally. I see different employment opportunities in future.”
Paddy Mwesigye, Graphic Designer
“I take the fan’s club to be a source of employment, because we are trained to do different things from which we can get money for survival. We also get chance to interact with different people through sharing developmental ideas.”
Sanyulah Nakazzi, business woman
“The fans are our supporters, in that case, the radio helps in making their dreams come true. The fan’s club has a bright future given the kind of things they have started like the poultry project. They have gone from just listening to the radio to getting developmental concepts.”
Moses Katongole, Radio Programmes Director