Every day at around 9:30am in the morning, Beatrice Basemera leaves her home in Kagote village, about one kilometre away from Fort Portal and goes to Kabundaire Market to buy food items for cooking.
Daily, she spends Shs150,000 to buy food items from local markets of Kabundaire. She prepares breakfast and lunch for her customers. Because she has been in the business for many years, Basemera has many customers who call her to make orders for food in the evening.
“During weekends, I get many customers and I can make about Shs210,000,” Basemera says.
She currently employs four other people to run the business. “In a month I find myself earning about Shs3.5 million from street food vending. I am paying school fees for my brother, who is at university and other six children” Basemera says.
After running the food business for 15 years, in 2005, she started an outside catering business. Despite the humble beginning, today her business has grown and she has built a great client base. Basemera says she currently employs 15 people in her catering business.
She cooks in parties and charges different rates depending on the number of invited guests at a particular function.
“I invested about Shs3.6 million to buy items and this was after two people hired me to cook for them at their parties. At this point, I realised I had the potential to cook for even bigger functions,” she says.
Her business in 10 years
In terms of expansion, Basemera plans to invest in a poultry farm alongside her catering business.
Basemera also says coronavirus has in a way slowed down her plans of building rentals. She says: “Our city is developing and I need to be prepared. I am planning to build rentals and a hotel to tap into the opportunities that come with development.”
Just like any other street food vendor, Basemera faces challenges of bad weather because she sells food in open space along the street of Bwamba road in Fort Portal. During the rainy season, her customers are affected by rain.
In her catering business she lacks other four big saucepans because each saucepan costs over Shs 1.5 million depending on its size, food warmers, uniforms and tables.
Basemera believes that with little capital, anyone can start a business if they are passionate about it. “If a school dropout can sustain a business for 15 years, how about university graduates? I have learnt how to handle customers and how to save money for future investments,”Basemera says.
Besides her catering business, Basemera also inspects all food stalls of vendors in town to ensure that they meet the standards and work in a clean environment.
She also educates her fellow vendors on preparation of diverse foods which has improved diets of their clients.
Recently Basemera got an opportunity to be trained in a food laboratory, an offer from by Kabarole Research and Resource Centre (KRC) on how to prepare quality food for consumers. She says most of their clients are different people who work late in town such as boda boda riders, to shopkeepers and travellers.
What others say
Harriet Kemigisa says Basemera is a role model for many women in Fort Portal. “When she told me about the food business in 2015, I joined her and we started working together,” she says.