When Eva Birungi decided to join the Rising Woman competition last year, she had to tie up some bolts. Besides writing a business proposal which she had to defend as a way to validate her business choice, Birungi had to legalise her business in the form of registration.
Starting with only Shs500,000 which was her salary, the then employee of Mengo Hospital bought 360 layer birds to boost the family income. With determination, Birungi established the Passion Farm in 2016. But even before she could reap, all her birds were hit by New Castle disease, something that tested her entrepreneurial spirit.
“The loss was nerve-wrecking but I never gave up.” For one that had been ‘burnt’ , you would expect her to buy just a few to test the waters but she bought even more 510 birds. “I had learned several lessons from my past loss that the early stages of a young business needs the entrepreneur’s whole such as care, passion and time for any business to thrive. With this, the second batch survived and with better practices, egg production was better. This saw her reap more profits, something that motivated her to buy another lot of 1,020 birds.
The journey has been characterised by highs and lows, investing in research and learning how to turn challenges into money-making opportunities. For example, the increase in birds caused an influx in broken eggs and manure.
“With the broken eggs came the birth of Passion Bakes in 2018, where we make cakes for all functions, pastries and snacks. On the other hand, the manure which was starting to cause a stench around the farm became an ingredient in making of biogas, briquettes and briquette lighters,” she says.
Birungi, who works with her husband, has also ventured into vermiculture- vertical vegetable growing. With this, they managed to supplement their family income. However, the output was overwhelming and the production of unused fertilisers increased.
“We saw it as an opportunity to introduce rabbits to the farm in 2019. This created another source of food for the family and we are planning to expand our production and adding value to the meat to supply supermarkets and hotels,” she says.
Such ingenuity made Birungi stand out in the field of innovation. Like they say, opportunity happens to all but the distinction between a winner and everyone else is preparation. Also, in the business world, the ability to communicate thoughts and intentions is another distinguishing factor for successful persons.
She defended her business proposal and among other participants, she stood out and became one of the 10 winners of the competition, which came with several perks for the farm.
The farm got free increased visibility from different areas of the country. “People from all walks of life, including, students, women, youth and other organisations visit our farm for learning processes and all this came as a result of Rising Woman Initiative.”
Birungi’s win came with Shs10m prize, which provided a financial boost. With this, she acquired land to expand the business and this has opened up more opportunities to her farm.
“Rising Woman competition enabled us to acquire more business knowledge and skills through attending different Rising Woman workshops, exhibitions and trainings,” says Birungi.
Widened the activity base
Initially, the farm centred on poultry as a major activity followed by briquette making. Today, Birungi has ventured into urban gardening, training, growing maize, beans, bananas, coffee, and cowpeas. Besides, she has also increased production of charcoal lighters and organic fertilisers that were previously done at a small scale.
While there was an urgent need from farm visitors to receive training in urban farming, Birungi says a lot was needed to make it happen. “With the financial prize, we have now fully embraced it and it is done at the original My Passion farm site at Naluvule. We also conduct training programmes at our extension for those who need to train in large scal-farming.”
Owing to increased number of incomegenerating activities, Birungi has seen an increase in the flow of income, especially from trainings conducted on the farm and sale of agricultural produce.
She also significantly reduced the costs of feeds by about 40 per cent. “We now grow our own maize, which is a major raw material in feeding poultry. Consequently, we have been able to accrue more savings and invest in other avenues pertinent to growth of our farm,” she says.
Winning also came with a trip to Kenya, which was a golden learning opportunity for Birungi. She learned the essence of having a clear vision in order to make the business sustainable. The Rising Woman initiative has also opened a window of partnership linkages for Birungi. She says collaboration is a smart way of boosting businesses, establish ties that are fundamental for business survival and success. Birungi realised she had to build visibility to ensure she is visible in the market place.
“I have to continue working with Rising Woman, Dfcu and Uganda National Farmers Federation to grow my business.” Birungi needed the skill of scaling and modeling her business. The competition introduced her to pertinent business insights such as intended expenditure and projected profits, which have taught her many lessons, especially in areas of leadership, marketing, sales and automation.
Unforgettable trip : Fundamental lessons
Winning also came with a trip to Kenya which was a golden learning opportunity for Birungi. She learned the essence of having a clear vision in order to make the business sustainable. The rising woman initiative has also opened doors of partnership linkages for Birungi.
She says collaborations is a smart way of boosting businesses, establish ties that are fundamental for business survival and success. Birungi realized she had to build visibility to ensure she is visible in the market place.
“I have to continue working with rising woman, Dfcu and Uganda National Farmers Federation to grow my business.”