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No formal job? No problem, sigiri will do it for me

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Bright Mpumwire roasts pork at an event. PHOTO/ARNOLD SEREMBA

It’s a cloudy Sunday but the weather has not dampened the mood of the young men flocking to the playground at Bishop Cipriano Kihangire Secondary School, in Bbiina, Luzira, in Kampala City. 

Music blares from the speakers while the DJ gives a running commentary on the mock games between different football teams. Suddenly, the young men let out a collective shout – 17 Legacy Football Club has scored against their rivals, Covid Era Football Club. 

In the vendors’ corner, seemingly unconcerned, Mr Bright Mpumwire stands next to his grill, every now and then turning the skewers of pork as they roast slowly over the charcoal. He wears an apron with Brightos Pork emblazoned in bold colours. Two men standing next to him are threading meat on skewers. 

Broken dreams of grandeur 
Known to his friends as Brighto, it is difficult to believe that this 28-year-old pork roaster is an honours graduate. In 2019, Mpumwire graduated with a second-class upper degree in Accounting and Finance from Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST).  

While he put in extra work to attain the coveted degree, Mr Mpumwire dreamt of working in the banking sector.

“I thought I would be dealing with finances. I was a fan of Stanbic Bank. Whenever I would go to their branch in Mbarara City to pay school fees, I admired the elegance of the staff. I wanted to be like them,” he says.

To supplement his pocket money, Mr Mpumwire ran a small boutique in the city, where he sold clothes to his peers. However, when he graduated, reality hit him. 

“I did not give the boutique much of my attention because I thought I was going to get a formal job in a bank. I applied to many banks. Some called me back. I did interviews but they did not call back. Eventually, I gave up and went to work as a call centre agent for a solar company,” he says. 

Then, Covid-19 struck. Like most non-essential workers, the young man was forced to work from home. He continued earning a salary, although he spent very little of it.

“At that time, I had only one thought. I wanted to be my own boss, but how would I start a business? And what business? Then, I looked at my social media platforms. As a guy who jokes a lot, I have a huge following. I thought, ‘why not milk these people?’ That is when I quit the job,” he says.

Using his savings, Mr Mpumwire established a piggery in the village and charged his mother with taking care of the piglets. 

He opened up an X account for his business and called it Sir Brighto with an emoji of a pig. He now has 29,000 followers on social media platform X, formerly Twitter. 

“People laughed at the emoji, but I engaged them and I have not looked back. Right now I have 10 pigs. When they give birth, I sell off the piglets. Depending on their age and size, I sell them between Shs150,000 and Shs200,000,” he says. 

Last year, Mr Mpumwire, who is also a digital influencer, ventured into pork roasting.
“As a digital influencer, I host events and go for road trips around the country. I thought, why not sell pork to my followers and the people I hosted? So, I became a vendor at the events I hosted. A friend, who is a chef, taught me how to spice and marinate to bring out the uniqueness,” he says.   

Learning on the job, he says the first time he vended pork at an event it rained heavily. He made huge losses. Afterwards, he hired two men to help him.

“These guys were roasting meat by the roadside, so they know how things work. When I get the pork from the abattoir, I remove the bones and the fats. Then, I spice it. The men do the roasting. When I am vending at a big event, I hire extra people to serve the pork,” he says.

On average, he roasts between 60 – 100 kilogrammes of pork at events like alumni gatherings and football league games. He gets five skewers from every kilogramme. A skewer costs Shs5,000.  

“I have hosted events such as Pork and Enturire, Ndeku and Nyamachoma at Nyungu Ya Mawe Forest Park in Kitukutwe. At such events one can roast four pigs, each weighing 300 kilogrammes,” he says.

What the future holds
Whatever he earns from his digital influencing gigs is channeled towards his pork business. 

“I want to see Brighto’s Pork everywhere. We have a social media presence and although I am not earning much, I am making a living. I vend at any event I can – whether it is Ray G’s concert, Vumbula Uganda Festival, or at the Nyege Nyege Music Festival,” he says.
However, his desire is to have a physical location in two years’ time so that he can start online deliveries.  

“My biggest challenge is lack of capital. Sometimes, I get huge business, but I cannot afford to take it because I do not have the money to buy the quantities of pork needed. So, I end up letting go of that money,” he says.

And, he has finally given up on the dream of working in the banking sector.

“Honestly, right now I am focusing on my pork business. At the end of the day, the goal is to earn money. Actually, I brought my young brother into the business. He is at the university and has to learn early that sometimes, things don’t work out the way we want them to. But, as long as you have a skill, you can survive,” he says.

Opinion on jobs
Mr John Walugembe, the executive director of the Federation of Small and Medium Enterprises-Uganda, advises young people not to wait for formal employment. 

“The structure of our economy is that such jobs are not many, and not all of the unemployed youths have the competences to do those jobs. They should try to innovate and start small businesses if they can, instead of waiting for their dream jobs. They do not have to start big. One can make soap, open a retail shop in the village or offer a service like slashing people’s compounds for money,” he says.

He advises the government to focus on creating opportunities for the young population.