Scovia Nansubuga 38, a mother to nine children, has proved beyond doubt that women, too, can be mechanics. Having relied on her husband for necessities like food, jelly and medication, she decided to take up an opportunity when her husband took her to the garage.
Opposite Fuelex petrol station in Kawempe, is where I met her. Clad in a blue overall, and wearing a French cut, Nansubuga, 38, effortlessly opens a generator with a spanner in no time. Oblivious to the oil spilling onto her hands, she opens the calibrator to see what the problem is. She quickly reaches for a screw driver to unscrew the nuts to examine what is precisely failing the generator to start. Like a doctor examining a patient, she inspects the inside of the generator closely before letting the owner know that some wires in there are rotten. She wipes her brow with the back of her hand before delving into the service fee negotiations.
Nansubuga was born to peasant parents, Ssiviri Lutwama and Annet Naku, in a family of nine in Monde, Luweero District. She dropped out of school at Primary Seven at Mwererwe Primary School in Luweero due to lack of school fees.
Idle and impoverished, Nansubuga decided to get married hoping it would at least keep her busy. Jobless, she realised even having a family did not solve the problem of idleness. It bothered her that she sat home and waited on her husband to provide everything, so she tried out some business ventures. First, was vending tomatoes and onions, then trying out in an eatery, both of which businesses did not work due to poor returns.
Starting out in mechanics
When her husband sold her the idea of trying out mechanics, she did not hesitate to buy into it since she was tired of sitting idly at home. This became easy for her since her husband owned and operated a garage in Industrial Area, Bwaise. She could, therefore, get free training, which she started in 2010.
Fellow women ridiculed her when they found her with spanners trying to work, but she ignored them. “Soon, those who laughed at me started to admire me; I had started making some money,” she recounts.
Together with her husband, they consolidated their savings from the business and moved their garage from Bwaise to Kawempe, to escape the floods whenever it rained and have more space for their clients. They opted for Kawempe o, where Nansubuga soon became famous in the surrounding area. “Most people prefer my services because I work fast and do not postpone work,” she says.
In time, her husband has entrusted her with the business more, leaving her in charge while he attends to off-site jobs.