KAMPALA – Kiiza is a 24-year-old student who sells peeled bananas (Matooke) to raise his tuition at International University of East Africa (IUEA) along Kansanga – Ggaba Road.
Thomas Kizza is in his fourth-year and a student of Petroleum Engineering at the International University of East Africa (IUEA). He ventured into selling peeled Matooke after his father also the breadwinner of the family, retired. Knowing that life wasn’t going to be a cup of tea, Kizza decided to invest the little he had in a Matooke business so as to cater for his tuition and upkeep.
In his First Year at the university, Kizza got a half bursary and had to raise the other half of his tuition which was about is UGX4m per semester.
“It was really hard, given that my father had retired and gone back to the village and my mother is a primary school teacher. She couldn’t raise all that money,” Kizza says.
It was at that point that he started venturing into different small businesses. Kizza says that his home area, Sheema District in western Uganda, has a lot of Matooke, so he used the opportunity to start the business with the help of his friends.
His people would send him sacks of Matooke by bus and he would sell it in markets. He realized he was not earning much, which forced him to give the business a break.
“I was selling sacks of Matooke at Kisugu Market, among others, but sometimes customers would under-price the Matooke. In my third year, I quit the business for some time,” Kizza says.
Basing on advice from his father who was well versed with the agriculture and business sector, Kizza was able to get back on track.
Kizza decided to venture into selling peeled matooke to students at an affordable price of UGShs1500 each package containing 9-12-13 Matooke fingers depending on size. His father advised him to pack the Matooke so that if customers needed more they would easily reach him.
After doing some market research, Kizza named his brand “Ebitookyee”, the local name for Matooke in western Uganda.
“I started selling peeled Matooke to my classmates then other people started making orders,” he says.
“I studied biology in high school and I know about enzyme activity. When it goes below zero degrees Celsius, the enzymes are inactivated and the Matooke won’t go bad, that is why I have the same instructions on my label.”
Kizza started door-to-door marketing of his product, but until a few months ago, the business had not broken even. Some of his friends introduced the idea of social media marketing to him and he says that yielded him a great deal of profits as the 24-year-old now makes about UGX50,000 per day compared to the UGx10,000 he used to earn when he was selling door-to-door.
“I have a friend who is fond of twitter. When he visited me, he told me about social media, but I did not have much followers. By then I must have had about 500 followers on Twitter,” Kizza explains.
Kizza expects to expand his business from just operating within his hostel to the international market reaching Europe, Canada, and USA among others. He also hopes to employ and inspire more people especially the youth.
Kizza has some advice for the young people, “Work hard and look for business opportunities where they don’t exist and it will surely pay off.”