For a while, Rogers Tamukedde, enjoyed roasted meat and beyond being a consumer, he sought to start an enterprise because he had the belief that he could offer tastier treats.
In 2003, he decided to kick-start his dream, with Shs20,000 from which he bought a kilogramme of meat at Shs2,500, tomatoes, onions and spices which he used to marinate the meat. He had started Me & You roasted goat meat, chicken and sausages. His first work station was a corridor that runs through one of the buildings along Dewinton Road. The corridor was adjacent to a bar.
On the first night, he only managed to sell three skewers of goat meat. That should have dampened his spirits but it did not.
He was prepared for the rough beginning which lasted for nine months before luck smiled his way. In setting out to roast goat meat, he banked on revellers and people who had seen him grow along Dewinton Road.
“Goat meat was not a common snack so I decided to find uniqueness in roasting it. The person who had roasted meat in that corridor had failed so I decided to go in and try my luck. In fact, I asked him to rent me his charcoal stove (sigiri). It took a while for me to gain acceptance among patrons,” he recollects.
In soldiering on, he made sacrifices such as having to walk from Kitintale, near Kampala, where he stayed, to Dewinton, borrowing money and sinking it into his start-up.
Tamukedde banked on hope and the passion he had for roasting meat.
“I had tried to look for employment opportunities in vain. The fact that I had not studied much, I had all my hopes in making the meat business work,” Tamukedde says.
One Tuesday afternoon in 2006, he caught wind of word that Alliance Francaise de Kampala was conducting a show at Uganda National Cultural Centre (National Theatre) so he bought eight kilogrammes of meat in anticipation of selling roasts (muchomo) to revellers at the event. Within an hour, he had sold all the muchomo he had prepared. “I was so happy. The sales I made on that day encouraged me. From then on, I diversified to also include chicken on my roasts given the demand it attracted. I began realising profits, from Shs10,000 to Shs15,000, Shs20,000 and Shs25,000,” he further recalls.
The Alliance Francaise event got him thinking about more possibilities. The next day, he walked up to the director of the theatre, the late Joseph Walugembe and asked him to allow him sell muchomo to revellers during the Jam Session which attracted a crowd every Monday at the theatre.
He was given a go-ahead since Walugembe and other administrators of the theatre were his customers and knew that he could provide good snacks. “I got a warm reception. This taught me that patience is key in business, God cannot forsake you. That was my turning point. With the good sales and response from revellers, I asked the theatre management to let me operate from the premises. I was told to make a formal request, which they positively responded to.”
He was asked to pay Shs100,000 as monthly rental fees but as a requirement, Tamukedde was to pay on a quarterly basis, which meant he had to remit Shs300,000. It was a fair deal to him.
He operated the muchomo business at National Theatre for seven years. In 2014, when management changed, they asked him to leave so that they could internally manage the roasts’ business. He moved to Pan World, situated on Dewinton Road, a washing bay and parking space with a bar, restaurant and muchomo meeting spot. Tamukedde still runs his business at the hangout. At the time he left the theatre, his corner in the big hut, had become an attraction and a meeting point for revellers and clients who visited the premises to partake of the tasty muchomo some would wash down with options of chilled beer, soft drink and hot beverages. At Pan World, the owner, Mr Jamada Kikomeko, received hime with open arms, having heard about his popular roasts. The two negotiated rental fees and settled for Shs300,000.
There, he continues to attract muchomo consumers who do not mind sitting under the stars and enjoy fresh air as they bite through organic meats; chicken, goat’s meat and sausages. There is an array of drinks that include chilled and warm beer, spirits, vodkas, sodas as well as hot beverages and food. “My meats are different because I do this from love and passion. I prepare meat to the best of my ability so that if a customer tastes it, they will enjoy it and keep coming back and also bring a friend, brother, sister or someone special to also enjoy it,” the food entrepreneur further explains.
He employs two ladies who assist in taking and serving orders, cleaning the place and utensils. He spends Shs700,000 on their salaries. From his earnings, he has managed to take his children to school. His eldest son is finalising a diploma in dentistry, the second born is studying fashion and design and the third born in Senior Three. He says that he has been able to achieve in business owing to being honest and trustworthy.
“My enterprise has exposed me to people from all walks of life. Whereas others pay to meet celebrities, I interface with them for free as I serve them muchomo and we later on chat. Most of all, I am grateful to the man who gave me the breakthrough I prayed for, Walugembe. I cannot forget him. He gave me a platform to change my fortunes.” Tamukedde is also grateful that he has been able to educate his children. On his wish list is to put up rentals as his next achievement as he begins to prepare his for retirement. To anyone in business or planning to start one, his advice is to take it slow, and learn from every experience.