Phiona Namirembe of Uganda is one woman who is juggling many important roles. In addition to raising five young energetic boys and managing her family’s home with her husband Geofrey, she is a businesswoman who owns a bustling drinks distribution center.
Her passion for entrepreneurism began as a young girl. Her mother was a businesswoman and Phiona saw her confidence and strength as she provided for her family.
In 2001, Phiona’s dream came true when she opened “Kyakuha & Sons,” a manual drinks distribution center. A manual distribution center is a business that sells Coca-Cola drinks in metropolitan areas where neighbouring communities have unstable roads and an infrastructure that makes it difficult for delivery trucks to travel. Those who own distribution centers hire others to sell and distribute drinks to small retailers, often by bicycle, boat, motorbike or pushcart.
When she opened her business, Phiona was a mere 19 years old, and she quickly learned that running a business was more difficult than she thought. She had to do it all. As the business grew, she was able to hire employees to help her and the community began to rely on her business so they could sell drinks for income.
In 2012 Phiona had the opportunity to participate in a 5by20 business skills training class with other women. “The program helped me to develop a budget for my business, how to keep records and taught me how to use my money more effectively.” It also provided a group of women to share ideas with about business ambitions and challenges with managing a home and family.
“I think it’s important for women to collaborate and not to compete with each other,” says Phiona.
As her business grew and she began to see how she was bringing income to her entire community, her confidence grew. The money she makes goes to things her children need and she also can help her parents and siblings. That makes her proud. “I got self-confidence as a woman. I felt empowered,” says Phiona.
Things are looking up. Now Phiona has 15 employees, including several women, and sells 5,500 cases a week to a 20 KM area. She works tirelessly with one big dream ahead of her: seeing her five sons attend university. With that kind of inspiration, there is no doubt she’ll achieve her dream.
Watch this video to meet Phiona, her family and her community.
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