Whereas coronavirus has negatively impacted the world, it is a blessing in disguise for some youths in Kampala. The youth have found temporally self-employment by selling masks to the public.
The youth station at different strategic and busy locations in Kampala, where the vend face masks to passersby between Shillings 1000- 2000 per mask. A disposable mask costs Shillings 1000 while reusable masks vary between Shillings 1000 and 2,000. The youths mostly, student have found this a lucrative business that is easy to start and maintain.
19-year-old Brendon Ssebale is a senior four student of Kololo SS. According to Ssebale, he decided to join this business in August because of the high demand for masks in Kampala because of the government policy requiring all people to wear masks in public as a control measure against the spread of Covid -19.
Ssebale started selling masks with capital of Shilling 12, 000 but his capital has since grown to over around Shillings 100, 000 with daily savings of at least Shillings 15, 000 shillings in his Postbank account. He hopes to return to school next year after rising sufficient money for his school fees.
“The business is not bad at all, you can have what to eat and save at least 15, 000 Shillings each day”, he told URN in Wandegeya. According to Ssebale, he sells 100 pieces of disposable masks in 3 days. 100 pieces of masks cost only Shillings 31, 000. Ssebale is able to earn a profit of almost Shillings 70, 000 at the turnover of about 30 per cent on the 100 masks per day.
Hamuza Kigongo, 25, a chef who lost his job during the lockdown announced in March, says that he tried two businesses before finally finding hope in selling masks. He explains that he first started making shoes and t selling apples in Kisasi, but the businesses couldn’t enable him to meet his demands.
He says a friend advised him to abandon apples for masks. He says he started selling masks in Namboole but the number of people selling the same item grew prompting him to relocate. Kigongo, who now sells his masks at Kisementi – Acacia Mall Area, says that he realized immediately that selling masks was profitable. Having started with only Shillings 18, 500 around May, Kigongo is saving to open a small restaurant.
“My plan is to open my own business. I would like to open a restaurant after this seasonal business,” he said in an interview. Selling masks has also attracted young children around 10 years of age. Vien Ssebagala, who was in the company of two of his peers told URN that they are able to earn Shillings 50, 000 as a commission for selling masks each day.
He says since he is in primary four, instead of staying home idle he supports his family by selling masks. He says he begins selling them from 8:00 am to around 4:00 pm daily. According to the sellers, they buy a box containing 50 pieces of reusable masks from Arua Park at Shillings 12, 000. According to Kigongo, most of their customers are Bodavboda riders, passengers and business people.
He also says that most customers prefer disposable masks because they are very affordable. Our reporter visited Arua park and found several people picking masks from Chinese suppliers.