In Summary

Strategy. Muhammed Lutaaya took advantage of Uber to market his black seed products. This strategy saw his earning more than double to Shs800,000 per week.

Muhammad Lutaaya, an accountant by profession is overjoyed with his new-found love. He quit his job as a team leader at Smile Telecom last month to switch to selling a herb, black seed, which according to him cures many diseases.
“I have been able to make money with little hassle but more return,” this is how the 34-year-old Lutaaya, who runs Easyway, puts it.
Since adopting black seed business, Lutaaya’s life has immensely changed. More income has given him and his family a new lease of life.

“I started a video shop in Kamwokya when I had just graduated. Even after toiling so hard, I could hardly make enough money. Then I decided to join Smile Telecom as a salesman,” he recalls.
After five years at Smile Telecom, Lutaaya decided to call it quits in April 2018 to start selling black seed products in Wandegeya Market.
“I use word of mouth to let people know about black seeds and I do not regret any moment,” he says.

Humble beginnings
Lutaaya reveals that he was sickly as a child since he was not immunised. He recalls struggling with yeast infections even after visiting the best specialists in town.
“I took tablets for so long and they ended up damaging my liver. Out of curiosity while searching the internet, someone hinted on something I had never heard of – the black seed,” he recalls.
He says that after discussions on internet forums, he contacted an acquaintance in the UK who sent him a 125ml bottle of black seed oil in 2011.

After just six months, he started feeling better. When he was later diagnosed at Life Link hospital, the infections had gone.
“From that time, I started sharing the information with several people starting with my mum who had high blood pressure,” he said.
That was seven years ago.
Last year, after one of his satisfied customers, Hellen Sekikubo was healed of her dandruff problem it is Sekikubo who advised him to consider selling black seeds as a business.

The hurdle
When he started out, people were hardly aware of the herb, so, he had some doubts about its success.
“Whenever I went to sell Smile Telecom products, I made use of that time to talk about black seeds. Actually the first sales were the main attraction in the beginning,” he said.
He started with 20 litres of oil which he imported from Egypt but he was surprised after they sold off in less than two weeks.
In subsequent orders, he started selling to his customers whom he took around town as an Uber driver.

Booming business
Business was booming for him as he says that he was earning about Shs800,000 every week from the sales in his Uber.
“I stopped driving Uber in December last year but after six months I had sold to 250 customers,” he says.
In November 2017, he decided to set up a website and also rented two rooms at Wandegeya market.
He then registered with registration with THETA. He has also taken black seeds to the government chemist’s office as he seeks approval as the alternative drug.

The strategy
In January, he started attending school and mass events. While using the knowledge he had learnt from Smile Telecom of branding his products, he has been to Trinity School Kisaasi, Kampala Academy, Gayaza High School, Nabisunsa Girls, Kings College Buddo, Kibuli Secondary School, St Kalemba Nazigo, Kawempe Muslim and Kabojja with great success. His biggest sale was at Gayaza High School where he got Shs1.8m over just two days. Making that money on just one weekend and that’s when he realised that he had made a great move.
“Selling black seed did not only save my life but it’s a pretty good business,” he reported.

Setting his own standards
He now imports in larger quantities from Egypt and Pakistani.
He sells a 120 grammes tin of seeds for Shs5,000 while a bar of soap is for Shs15,000. The 500ml bottle of oil is sold at Shs80,000 with the smallest, a 20ml bottle offered at Shs3,000.
Powder made from black seeds is sold at Shs15,000 for a 250 grammes tin.
Other products such as scrub, oil spray and bump oil cost Shs20,000 for 100ml bottles.
All products are performing well on the market, but it is the oil that customers have more craze for.
There are other businessmen understood to be importing black seed and its oil in Uganda but the biggest market is among the Muslim community who have for long been exposed to its values.
Lutaaya plans to start making black seed jelly and says there is still much more scope for black seeds products on the market.

What is the magic of black seed?
Traditionally, black seed has been used for a variety of treatments related to respiratory health, stomach and intestinal complaints, kidney and liver support, circulatory and immune system support.
Black seed oil has been used for different skin conditions, dryness, joint and scalp massage. Black seed may support metabolism and improve digestion.
There have been studies published that show black seed may have a healthy effect on blood sugar levels.
“I am overwhelmed by the the clients. The numbers are so big, these days i supply on orders,” says Lutaaya who intends to build a factory in Namanve, Mukono District.

editorial@ug.nationmedia.com