The secret to survival is to learn how to survive and to adapt to your new normal. If you know something about living in the military or police barracks or somewhere near these confines, you will understand what Aisha Ganda went through and why she markets her tasty snacks like a Lieutenant.
It is like a battle. If you are unfit for the frontline, you know that you must withdraw from the hustle altogether. But not for Aisha, nah ah. She is fit. She is fierce. She drives her business with such passion that if you have any allergy, you might want to have a private therapy session with it to leave you alone for some time, so that you can taste her snacks from her Snacks4U brand.
Yeah, you heard that right!
Aisha is the CEO of her business. Ladies, this title isn’t for the weaklings. It belongs to the Queens of real hustles. So if you want to wear such a title, you have to be focused on giving it the respect it deserves. Aisha does. But this title does not appear with a wand. You have to work hard for it like Aisha does.
Growing up in Nsambya Police barracks taught Aisha never to depend on one bread winner because anything can happen. And it happened! Daddy fell sick. Maama was a stay home hustler. And while most of her age-mates and classmates-to-be were starting to think about early graduation, Aisha was thinking about taking a dead year, applying for a loan to pay her tuition and no, we bet you that this is not what first year students should be burdened with while at University. Even when someone stepped in to help out here or there, Aisha had understood the fact that she had to step up to fend for herself.
She started her hustle with chapatis, samosas and half cakes which she would supply to school canteens – under the business name, Aisha’s Confectionaries. (Yes, by the time a brand name becomes a household name, it goes through the baptism of fire, trials and errors and changes; and this businesswoman just went through it like swiiiiiiii…..) Unfortunately, the short shelf life of chapatis and other soggy eats marked the end of the first baptism. Then came Snacks4U.
With its birthday somewhere in March 2018 (and everybody knows that where birthdays happen, more babies are made), Aisha added roasted simsim, pumpkin seeds, soya, hard-corns and groundnuts to the merchandise (talk about being creative, huh!).
With all that, how did she survive after school market ended and required more supply? Two major answers – vigorous marketing and community effort. Dear business enthusiast, never forget where you come from because your personal persons will hold you up if you ask. ‘I’d have women from the barracks to provide labour whilst others brought their raw products and I handled the finishing part.’
Eh! Something good definitely happens when a woman supports women. Aisha spiced it up with being social and ready to teach others how to make the snacks and that helped her create a constant market of demand and supply in the business, ‘…after grooming them [women from barracks]about how to do their part, I process the rest, including the packaging.’
Like all start-ups, there are times of exhaustion, where ideas become sticky notes rather than moving wheels. Snacks4U hit a snag when she enrolled for her school internship, ‘… in 2018, (the very year of boom), I had to go for internship and my biggest market reduced since most buyers came from school around Kansanga.’
And because internships mean commitment; working from 8-5pm, experiencing the season of employment prisons and seeing one’s hustle frail away, Aisha left almost immediately to save her baby – Snacks4U. Somewhere during that time, a Diploma in Business Administration found its way onto her resume, (so at least you know that you are dealing with a true professional) and more resources took centre stage.
Like many committed businesswomen, Aisha sought more guidance on how to run a business (passion/talent versus knowledge/skill, anybody?). ‘Yes, I’ve received support. The first being the SELF training and mentorship program by Faraja Africa Foundation in partnership with Action Aid, then the German-Ugandan based Company called Start-Up Africa, and many others which groomed me in business management.’
With the journey already taken, what lay ahead for our entrepreneur? Connection; and oh, did I mention that she is also a Mkazipreneur? Ooopss, I just did. So this entity is there to support women entrepreneurs: to create, connect and empower. Yep, Aisha is one household-name on the Mkazipreneur platforms who has made her mark known among the women entrepreneurs on this entity. She energises many members to literally, ‘go for it!’ I must add, with such energy, I guarantee you that you will get out of your ventilators, read bumooli* to buy and taste her snacks or emulate her zeal.
We asked if she had any take-home advice to the reader and she shared her wisdom, ‘Learn to talk about your business. Look like your business everywhere you go.’ She says, ‘My advocacy skills have allowed me to bounce in any place even where my products are not allowed inside. As long as they can be kept at the gate (read, entrance), keep a sample of your products with you, just in case a customer asks for some.’
Aisha also advises businesswomen out there to be mindful of the following:
- Separate your business from yourself. The business should be able to survive even in your absence.
- Separate business from domestic equipment. That will give you a proper account of the value of the business.
- Do not use the business proceeds to spoil yourself with a luxurious trip to Mombasa (haiyaaa!); you will be chewing your business capital and eventually chew your business, (read, baby).
- Keep records of cash flow to avoid being overwhelmed by debts.
- Separate business from friends and avoid extending credit to customers and personal friends. These are edibles, so not many remember to pay after eating their last snack.
Written by Atuhairwe Agrace of @ZAAZPress writers & publishers