With just Shs150,000, Damaris Khatundi abandoned tailoring to start making crafts. She tells Olivier Mukaaya about how she makes money in this business.
Damaris Khatundi, a former tailor, ditched her profession to venture into making crafts.
Khatundi, now in her forties, has spent 17 years in this business and explains how it started.
“While doing my first job of tailoring on the streets of Mbale Town, I picked interest in making crafts for sale,” Ms Khatundi shares.
Ms Khatundi, the proprietor of African Heritage and Craft International Ltd, located on Naboa Street in Mbale Town, was inspired by her customers who placed orders for African crafts which she didn’t have.
She saw the opportunity to make some extra money and grabbed it. To satisfy her customers, she gave it a try. Business was so good that she abandoned tailoring to concentrate on making crafts.
“The more crafts I made, the more customers I received,” Ms Khatundi who says word of mouth referrals have marketed her business.
But how much did she need to start? “I started with only Shs150,000 as capital which I used to buy materials to make African craft cushions,” Ms Khatundi whose business is now worth Shs60m says.
This business, like many others, has peak and low seasons. To survive, she says: “The business needs patience because there are some months when it’s slow.”
She spends between Shs3 and Shs4 million in buying materials from Kampala, Kenya, Tanzania and Burundi to make different crafts.
Khatundi have been able to take her children to school, built a house and managed to buy some plots of land where she carries out farming and she has also managed to train some women in her community where she stays about 10 women.
“My business is my passion and I believe this is the reason I have been able to achieve it, the only thing I do is to showcase African art to the tourists and my fellow Ugandans
She has managed to employee three people and pay her business taxes in time too
Business has not always been rosy for Khatundi. Business is usually slow at the beginning of the year. It can be so bad that sometimes: “You can end the day without getting any customer.”
Khatundi once lost merchandise worth Shs30 million when the building in which she was operating in was destroyed by Municipal Council Officers. All this was done without notice, she says.
“I was at home when I received a call to remove my things from the shop. By the time I reached, they had already finished demolishing the building,” says Ms Khatundi.
Although Khatundi followed up the case with the authorities, she has never been compensated for this loss.
Her business recovered in 2016 with a loan worth Shs5 million and now her business has grown more.
In a day, she receives between 6 and 10 customers. This business is profitable going by what she earns. “I earn profits of between Shs3 million and Shs5 million monthly.
The price of African crafts ranges from Shs25,000 to Shs60,000.
The African shoes cost Shs25,000 while the bags, African wear fabric, necklaces, flags and traditional instruments cost about Shs20,000.