Nabaasa: The mechanic changing lives in Fort Portal

Nabaasa repairs a car at her garage. Besides being a source of livelihood, she trains youth the same skill. PHOTO/Alex Ashaba

What you need to know:

Babrah Nabaasa is a mechanic who also runs a garage in Fort Portal City. When she was a little girl, her dream was to become a driver or a mechanic for motor vehicles

After completing Senior Four in 2008, her parents failed to raise money to further her education. A Good Samaritan came through for her and signed her up at Kichwamba Technical College in Fort Portal, where she got a certificate in motor vehicle mechanics.

Babrah Nabaasa is a mechanic who also runs a garage in Fort Portal City. When she was a little girl, her dream was to become a driver or a mechanic for motor vehicles.

After completing a course in mechanics in 2012, her parents sold two cows to raise capital for her business. “My parents gave me Shs2 million. I bought a tool box, rented space for six months and decided to start my own garage in Fort Portal,” she recounts.

 “It was hard for customers to trust me with their vehicles to do mechanical work. I was new in this business that is dominated by men,” Nabaasa says. 

Winning clients’ trust

At the start, Nabaasa did not selling spare parts because she did not have enough capital. But customers would give her money to buy for them spare parts in other shops.

Nabaasa says she charges different rates depending on the amount of work done or the type of service the client wants. On average, she goes home with Shs50,000.

While it has taken her time to win the trust of clients, she says the few whose cars she has repaired have sent her referrals and she is steadily building a client base.

After years of running a one-man show, Nabaasa, convinced two of her colleagues with whom she studied at Kichwamba Technical College to join her.

She has since registered her garage underthe name- Rwengoma Mechanics Association which not only offers mechanical work but also trains youth to master the craft and earn a source of living.

“My wish is to offer mechanical skills to youth as a way of fighting unemployment and reducing crimes in our community. I have trained them for free all these years, what they need is determination and a tool box only,” she says.

Nabaasa’s garage currently has more than 200 youth whom she has trained in motor vehicle mechanics.

“I have only employed two people who help trainees in wiring. I do my work with the help of youth whom I trained,” she says.


From operating a garage, Nabaasa has bought six cows, a plot of land in Fort Portal, paid fees for her children and bought a car.“I have no regrets. This is the best job I could ever do. All properties that were sold when I was studying and establishing this garage, I recovered them,” she says.

She wants to be among the women in Uganda who have made a difference in empowering youth with skills and fighting unemployment.

“If I get more money, I want to establish a permanent home for the garage. I want a fully-fledged outlet that sells all types of spare parts for cars,” she says.


Nabaasa says she met many challenges but remained focused. “There is no job that is designated for men.  For the last 10 years, I have proved that I can repair cars, a business that has been my source of livelihood and improved my standards of living,” she  says. Nabaasa says being trustworthy and doing quality work for clients are some of the best ways to thrive in business. According to Nabaasa, her business currently lacks many machines which are too expensive for her and also pays high fees in rent.

“I need support to buy land and machines. I want to have permanent home for the garage,” she says. Nabaasa says for complicated work that requires big machinery, she sends it to Kampala for repairs.

Some of the machines she lacks include a portable welding generator, an air compressor, engine lifting crane, wheel balancing and electrical welding machines. 

Nabaasa says on good days, she makes between Shs100,000 and Shs150,000 which she uses to pay workers and saves a certain percentage. 

Go for vocational studies

She says: “Once you are determined, it is easy to learn mechanical work. Trust is important because no client wants to lose their property when their car is in the garage,” she adds.

Nabaasa advises women to embrace vocational skills adding that people without skills are at risk of being unemployed.

“Do not despise jobs. You can be a carpenter, learn mechanical work, driving or do welding, as long as you can earn. Depending on men for everything is very dehumanising. You have the ability to work and contribute to the the payment of family bills,” she says.

As a mechanic, she has not won any awards but says she has received recognition from people including President Museveni.

“In 2019, I was shocked when I heard President Museveni mentioning my name “Nabaasa the garage woman”. My works are being recognised, many dignitaries have visited my garage and it is rewarding to know that I am making a great contribution to society,” she says.