If there is one thing that Sandra Musimenta’s story can teach a hungering young person, it is humble beginnings and the fact that they might not need to have much to start a business.
A graduate of Mass Communication from Uganda Christian University (UCU), Musimenta runs a home kitchen where she prepares meals, which she sells to her customers that include neighbours, friends and family members.
She has been doing this since November last year under her trade name, Maama Sandy’s Kitchen. On July 1, she engaged in another marketing drive in which she invested Shs250,000.
She made 50 beef samosas at a cost of Shs75, 000, 50 vegetable samosas at Shs75 000 and 100 chapatis at Shs100, 000. She gave out snacks to loyal customers and family in hope of getting feedback that she is optimistic in laying another ground for her to go forward.
Musimenta is part of the statistics quoted by Able to International Conglomerate Virgin Group, where Uganda was ranked number one entrepreneurial country, standing at 28.1 per cent, 11.4 per cent ahead of its closest contender, Thailand whose entrepreneurial level is quoted at 16.7 per cent.
For Musimenta, it started with moments of self-reflection and acting upon a new year resolution. Whenever she was cooking, her children were happy to join her and help out with a chore or two in the build-up to making the meal of the day.
“I started by trying out different recipes for children. They would taste and give me feedback. I started posting photographs of the meal on social media platforms,” she recounts.
Her followers on social media complimented her for the good meal presentation. Some of them made orders. She smelt the coffee and decided to commercialise the cooking hobby.
One of the meals that attracted a lot of attention was a platter of vegetables with posho.
She later on code-named it Lusaniya (meaning platter). At the time, she stayed in the Royal Palm Villas in Butabika.
“It is a nice neighbourhood and I thought that I could start with the people living within the estate. I began with katogo, (a mixture of vegetable prepared with matooke, or green bananas). People loved it. I would knock on people’s doors, marketing my culinary services,” she says.
Katogo came naturally because right from university, her friends enjoyed her cooking. She learnt how to prepare katogo, and cooking in general, from her mother.
She recollects people enjoying her mother’s katogo too. When I ask her what her secret recipe is, she says it all lies in keeping it organic.
She prepares it with bitter medicinal garden eggs (entula), egg plants, African braised kale (sukuma wiki) and mushroom.
From one neighbour to another, a friend to another, her good cooking was the basis for growing her start-up. At serving, she will add some avocado. The meal goes for Shs5,000.
The beauty with her business is that 20 to 30 people can make an order for a meal which fetches her Shs100, 000 to Shs150,000 in one go. Whereas she gets daily business, her busiest days are Saturday and Sunday when people need to replenish their systems and treat hangovers.
She does her shopping from Nakasero Market every weekend and gets produce that last for a week.
Apart from Katogo, Sandy’s Kitchen prepares beef and vegetable samosas, each at Shs1,500. For the vegetable samosas, she mixes zucchini, onions, carrots, Irish potatoes, garlic, dania and peas.
She also makes spring rolls, each going for Shs2,000, local pancakes at Shs1,000 each, American pancakes at Shs5, 000 each, waffles at Shs5,000 each, chapattis at Shs1,000 each and doughnuts at Shs2,000 each.
Her confessed weakness and blessing is kindness. For that, her sister is her financial mentor. At the end of each day, she seeks to find out how much Musimenta would have made.
The money will be split on expenditures and profits that have to be banked. At the moment, the qualified journalist is finalising on her branding materials. She is grateful for the favour God has blessed her business with, and for most delivery, she attaches a Biblical verse to inspire her clients.
Maama Sandy’s Kitchen is operated by three employees, herself and two others, thin and manageable. She pays Shs500,000 to each of them. Beyond the normal work, she implores them to also market and bring in business.
“We have to push on and market as an entity. I have a good relationship with my fellow employees,” Musimenta says, underlying the element of being a boss but not necessarily bossy.
Her lessons in running business is that it is important to manage time the best way you can.
She is up by 5am and by 11am, they are done with the work of the day.
“I used to be poor at time management. Experiences have taught me valuable lessons of managing my time better. Today, I use every opportunity to market my cooking services,” she says.
The challenges that she has experienced is catering for a company which went into payment arrears and has failed to meet their payment obligation to date which has set her back given her limited resources.
On her wish list is a prayer request to provide catering services to the State House. Her children continue to help in the business as something they love but also providing a bonding activity for the family.
She looks up to considerably growing her enterprise to a level of running at least a delivery outlet with at least four motorcycles. For now, she is embracing her hustle, ready to find more.
“On a rainy day, you will find me selling umbrellas,” she somewhat jokes, to emphasise her hunger for success in business.