For twelve years, Merab Bibangamba, has been an active member of Ntulume Village Women Development Association (NVIWODA), she joined the Association in 1997. Merab says her aim of joining was because she was struggling to manage a restaurant at Rubaga Road in Kampala, with a minimal capital; “life was not all that easy” she said!
She ordered food stuffs for the restaurant on credit and would only pay back after the day’s sales. One day Aisha, who was a Banana seller (Matooke), and a member of NVIWODA introduced her to the Association; her aim was to get a loan for the business. However, that was not the case immediately she joined, her priority changed and wanted to associate and identify herself with other women and learn from them as to how they operate their businesses.
In 1998, Merab attended a three weeks entrepreneurship development training programme run by NVIWODA, which exposed her to project identification, mobilization of resources, implementation and financial management. “The course opened my eyes and I am since able to realize my mistakes which caused my failure in business” she narrated.
On 23rd September 2010 NVIWODA entrepreneurs gathered to share entrepreneurial and their life experience. “I gained self confidence and my self esteem is high I hope to succeed in any venture Merab added with smile. “I have been able to buy a plot and built three rooms for renting out, this will sustain my income as well”, she confidently said, during the empowerment session. Merab developed competencies of being initiative and persistent which composed her to a better woman!
The Association has trained women in various income generating skills, i.e. mushroom growing, sweater knitting, wine making, bead making, food processing, tie and dye name it, members have also been exposed to industrial field study tours to able them share with other successful women. I feel my life has changed, because I make my own decisions on how to spend my money.
NVIWODA teaches women that “entrepreneurs are warriors and works against the rules of the society”, organized study tours, is an eye opener to women. In 2008 therefore, Merab was able, to excel and start a beekeeping project, she did not succeed in the beginning, therefore she searched for more information and knowledge on beekeeping and gained experience; by joining an association of bee keepers namely “Katabi Bee Keepers Association.
“Today, Merab Bibangmba is a managing Director of Juliemma Enterprise; she manages an indoor Apiary with Nineteen beehives and has since harvested over thirty Kgs. of honey.” Merab has an ambition to expand her project to over sixty beehives by 2013, at her home area in Mbarara. She harvests twice a year and believes that Beekeeping is a good manageable project, which women can be able to invest into.
Her product is pure natural honey because the bees, live on naturally grown plants like eucalyptus, flowers etc. Honey has various uses ranging from health to beauty.
One wonders how such a dangerous project could be managed by a woman, Merab is different, once she acquired knowledge and skills to maintain safety, quality, and inspection of the hives, harvest and processing of honey for the market, she is determined to successfully manage the project.
When asked whether she is faced with any challenges in beekeeping, she explained that, if bees are disturbed and attacked by insects they tend to swarm away from the hives. Bad people also steal the hives making loss to the project.
Merab also is engaged in jewellery making and wine processing in order to sustain the project.