Mariam Jjuuko started her business with a capital seed of Shs258,000. She used Shs100, 000 to register a business name- Taste & Tell.
She used the remaining Shs158,000 to acquire buckets, disposable glasses, straws and a small basket in which she would put kitchen towels and different fruits; passion fruits, mangoes, ginger, carrots and beetroot.
At home, Jjuuko had a blender, sieve and boiler which she transferred into the enterprise to kick start it. Started in May, 2018, ‘Taste & Tell’ is a cottage establishment that makes juice and beverages.
She established the business after burning her fingers with a hardware business she operated at Capital Shoppers Plaza in Nakasero, Kampala. It was no longer sustainable.
“I faced lots of challenges, including debts that pulled me down. My husband and family were supportive in helping me clear the debts,” she recounts. Rent at the shop space where she operated a hardware, was still running.
She used the allowance to use the space to begin the fruit business, first by selling the juice family and friends who encouraged her to scale out and establish a business unit.
“We had a small fridge at home which I carried to the shop along with a five litre of cocktail juice. I sold it to my friends who were working around the city centre as well as neighbouring shops. I sold r 300mililitres at Shs1, 000 and 500 millilitres at Shs2, 000,” she explains.
‘Garden Fresh’ was her first name choice for the business. Her sister-in-law, Dr Mariam Nakimera, was willing to use her social media following to capitalise Jjuuko’s start-up.
Nakimera helped her open up a Facebook as an initial step towards creating awareness about her products. She realised ‘Garden Fresh’ was already taken so she settled for ‘Taste & Tell”.
From the start, she admired and motivated to benchmark the way Café Javas runs its business and the pedigree of professionalism.
“I have always been inspired and motivated by the way cafe javas provides his services with an amazing beautiful presentation.”
She purchased mason jars, made good presentation, took photographs and shared them on Facebook through Dr Nakimera who has many followers, as well as forwarding the pictures to her friends.
She made brochures too, went to events, for example the Kampala Kids Run where she displayed the juice and made effort to convince customers to embrace her product. She also attended and exhibited at the ‘Muslim Run’ event.
Today, she is growing a clientele base from those organising functions such as introduction and wedding ceremonies. With time, she was introduced to Kushona Designers’ clothing and wear establishment.
Its director encouraged her by inviting her to provide juice to her clients every Wednesday, an opportunity that she acknowledges for introducing her to a number of clients. Pricing can make or break a business.
Given that fruits are seasonal, Jjuuko prices her juices according to the season. She makes deliveries but that affects the price too, owing to distance and quantities ordered.
For anyone motivated or planning to start a juice business, she advises that customer care, valuing customers, time management and consistently producing good quality juice and beverages are key.
She employs a team of five people who are split between roles of managing finances, social media and marketing, production and operations. When she gets a good deal, she motivates them with a bonus.
The business has had its bad days. “I have made losses. The biggest was when I provided a service and was not paid. It was a case of mixing friendship with business. I had to use my hard earned savings to clear the expenses. That incident taught me the importance of hiring someone to handle the finances,” she recounts.
She delivered a service at a friend’s function, was not paid and lost Shs598,000. With better financial handling and discipline, her aspiration is to grow her start-up to a level where it is able to handle industrial orders.
“Every time I see trucks of big companies like Jesa loading and offloading products in different parts of the country, I get inspired. I dream of Taste & Tell achieving that one day.”
She advises, “I encourage everyone especially women out there with failed or struggling businesses not to give up. The passion that I invest in my juice business is a worthy experience.”
Well, when starting out, she called on friends to volunteer. Today she is glad to employ presentable, confident, eloquent people with good attitude.