BY ALEX ASHABA
About half a kilometre from Fort Portal City, on the Fort Portal-Kamwenge Road in Harubaho Trading Centre, I meet Enid Kanyunyuzi, clad in a muddy overall and gumboots. As early as 8am, she has started to hustle by making bricks, while she listens to music on her small radio set.
While many homesteads are surrounded with flowers and trees, from a distance, I am welcomed with heaps of bricks. Some are newly made, others are waiting a brick furnace, while three other heaps are ready for sale. Her whole compound is full of bricks covered with tarpaulins.
How she started
After getting married, Kanyunyuzi, 38, found out that her husband’s source of livelihood was bricklaying. She took interest in learning the vocational skill and after months of working with her husband, she perfected the art.
“The demand for bricks in this town is always high.
Construction is one of those activities that is never out of season. People build residential and commercial houses all through the year. This is why I was inspired to join my husband to make money through brick laying,” she says.
According to Kanyunyuzi, bricklaying was the easiest way of making money and unlike other businesses, this did not require a lot of capital to start.
Kanyunyuzi did not have to hire land on which she makes bricks because her husband already had a piece of land.
All she needed was a hoe, water and wooden brick molding frame to get started. She says the first week of making bricks was exhausting.
Using a wooden brick molding frame, Kanyunyuzi made 100 bricks on the first day and by the end of the week, she had made 600 bricks. Kanyunyuzi says during the dry season, the bricks take about three days to get dry, while in a rainy season, it takes a week.
“Capital is not a big issue provided one is focused. At the start, Shs350,000 is required to buy a truck of firewood and Shs150,000 for labour to arrange bricks and make them ready for baking” says Kanyunyuzi.
She says after making bricks, it takes only three days for bricks to be baked and another one week to cool the fire.
Kanyunyuzi says her goal was to support her husband financially and also make a contribution towards building a family house.
“Our biggest challenge is rain. It destroys bricks, especially when they are not yet dry. When it rains and I am not around home to cover the bricks with tarpaulines, the rain washes them away, making us incur losses,” she says.
Additionally, during the dry season, her business is paralysed because bricklaying requires a lot of water to mix with the soil. She says daily, she uses more than 50 jerrycans and water sources are quite far.
Kanyunyuzi says from bricklaying, they have built a permanent house where they are now living.
She says with savings from selling bricks, in 2018, she decided to start a catering business with a capital of Shs4 million as a way of diversifying her sources of income.
The business has also supported her to pay school fees for her children. Kanyunyuzi says during the lockdown, which that started in March, she was able to make 15,000 bricks, which she sold at Shs2 million. She currently has more 15,000 bricks ready for sale.
Kanyunyuzi says she sells each brick at Shs150 and trucks that load 2,000 bricks pay her Shs300,000.
She says there is high demand for bricks, which she has used to her advantage to make more. Each month, she makes 15,000 bricks.
Asked how she markets her bricks, Kanyunyuzi says her strategic location helps her to get clients. She says she also uses brokers to look for more customers. For each new client she gets through a broker, she pay them a commission.
Kanyunyuzi challenges women to be bold enough and venture into jobs that society believes are for meant for men.
“People think I am doing a dirty job yet I smile to the bank whenever I sell my bricks. Do something that will make you earn money. It can be tailoring, bricklaying or farming. As a woman, it is important to support our husbands financially,” Kanyunyuzi says.
She acknowledges that doing a business with passion is rewarding.