Bisheko’s small peanut butter fortune

Saturday June 8 2019

Grace Bisheko’s makes peanut butter and

Grace Bisheko’s makes peanut butter and processes spices for sale. PHOTO BY BEATRICE NAKIBUUKA 

By Beatrice Nakibuuka

“When my househelp got to know my schedule- the time I left and returned home, she also started leaving the children at home, unattended. She would return later. My children were starved and malnourished, even when I left nutritious food for them,” Bisheko narrates. She says her eldest child suffered depression which they had to treat for more than four years.

Bisheko, who was working for the wellbeing of her children ended up spending time in hospitals treating endless infections, a thing that made her resign her job to look after them. While at home, she thought of many business ideas and had a strong conviction that she would never return to formal employment. “I have always dreamed of being my own boss. I believed that starting up my own business would give me enough time to look after my children,” she says.
After so many considerations, Bisheko started a shoe selling business in Kikuubo, in Kampala.

Several months later, Bisheko realised that besides paying rent, transport and food costs, she was not breaking even. Owing to stiff competition, her shoe business hardly made any profits. It is at this point that she reconsidered her business idea.
“In 2013, while I strolled into a supermarket with a friend, I picked peanut butter. My friend asked me why I bought a product that I could make myself. The next day, I went to her place and she taught me how to make peanut butter.”

As a trial, Bisheko used Shs50,000 to buy ground nuts and simsim. That day, she was able to make the peanut butter for her children. Within a month, she had mastered the art of making peanut butter, which she sold to her friends and former workmates.
This is how her business was born. Today, Bisheko not only makes peanut butter for sale, she also makes snacks like bagia, bakes cakes, cookies, buys raw honey from Kisoro District and packages it for sale.

The maths
Bisheko confesses that she is not a good marketer but she boasts of the good networks that have provided market for her products.
“My trick for making more sales is in making friends. When I meet one friend, I request her to connect me to his or her friends who would be interested in my products. I make friends at Church, offices, schools and even with the parents of my children’s friends.” From the network of friends, she gets orders.
Initially, she used to carry and deliver the products and later got a car to help her deliver her products to different clients. On a good day, Bisheko says she can make Shs200,000. And on a bad day, she makes Shs50,000. She says her biggest sales are made towards the beginning of school terms.

“When I go to deliver to a client, I go with various products in the car. I usually make stop overs at my friends’ homes in the same area where I make instant sales,” she says. Another way Bisheko markets her products is through visiting schools and seeking permission from administrators to display her products, especially at the beginning of the school terms.
“I tag prices on the different products. The cheapest is the soy cup, 200g tin that goes for Shs3,000, the spices go for Shs5,000, a kilogramme of peanut butter at Shs10,000 and a litre of honey goes for Shs25,000.”

Bisheko says her business is now worth Shs2.5m without counting the worth of machinery. On average, Bisheko says she makes Shs700,000 as net profit every month, after clearing all the expenses.
One of her business tricks is record keeping which facilitates her to monitor every penny earned and spent on the products.
She also grows vegetables such as tomatoes, onions, egg plants, cabbage, sukuma, beetroots, parsley, carrots and garlic in her backyard which she sells to neighbouring clients.

Challenges
Initially, Bisheko used to take her products to supermarkets, and it would take her a long time to recover the money. “I do not get very big profit margins from these products. So getting the money after so many months after production, feels like a loss. I therefore resorted to selling the products, myself,” she says.
Bisheko, says at times her machine breaks down, and she has to ask a friend, in the same business to help her produce. She says some products like spices have a long production process yet she does not have a drier.

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Future prospects
Bisheko is looking forward to increasing production and building a factory at her home. “I have already identified the machines that I want to buy for my home factory. I want to start exporting my products because there is market outside Uganda.
Bisheko also wants to start training and skilling people in small scale farming and making products.
She advises women to be creative, have something to sell and use their networks to make money.

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