By Joshua Kato
In school, Frank Kabale and Daniel Mugenyi were very good friends….Both of them were doing a Diploma in a Business related course at Aduku Business College. They majored in Business Accounting.
After College, each of them went their way. Kabale worked with Ntake Bakery for four years before he lost his job.
In 2019, years later, the two are slowly breaking into the smart fabrication sector, where they are producing stainless agriculture support/value addition equipment including coolers, maize hullers, Gnuts shellers, coffee grinders, honey press, dough mixtures, commercial juice blenders, and essential oil distillers etc. They are also fabricating hospital equipment including beds etc.
“We realised that Ugandan farmers did not have enough quality, locally fabricated equipment to add value to their produce,” Kabale says.
He explained that most of the equipment is fabricated using steel which is not good.
“This is why we went for fabricating using stainless steel,” he says.
Birth of a company
When he lost his job, Kabale also found out that his friend Mugenyi had lost his job. Kabale decided to start further understanding welding at a workshop in Bugolobi.
“I grew up at a workshop so this was not new. Perhaps the only change was that I was now doing it as a business and job,” says Kabale.
Kabale encouraged Mugenyi to join him at the workshop.
From the beginning, their target was to fabricate high-quality value-adding equipment, using the best materials available. Beyond what they were seeing daily at the workshop, the two also started using the internet, especially to understand how certain shapes were fabricated.
“Google obviously became our good friend. We were searching about not only bending but also learning more about fabricating food-grade processing equipment,” Mugenyi says.
After about a year at the Bugolobi workshop, they moved to Makerere and started life away from Bugolobi.
“We moved to Makerere in 2020, but then as soon as we set up, the country was locked down because of COVID-19,” Kabale says.
Their location was on Sir Apollo Kaggwa road, near the MUK gate. However, it was not easy. “We had a small display area near the road. We soon got the first job for sh100,000. We were very happy with it,” Kabale remembers.
They also did some small repair jobs of between sh100,000 to sh200,000 that kept them going. Among the repair jobs that they did included working on a wine processing unit and a welding job at Nice House of Plastics.
“That money helped us survive,” he said.
Meanwhile, all was not well with their neighbours because of the noise that came with hitting, sharpening etc from the machines. “They told us to leave,” Mugenyi says.
Lucky for them, somebody gave them a job of sh1.5m.
“This job would have cost sh3m but because we were looking for money to pay for rent, we took it up,” Kabale says.
The two agreed to use this money to pay for rent at a new building, about 300metres away from the first location. That was in May 2021.
“We paid for six months and started working but then, the second lockdown struck!
“It was a big blow because the movement was curtailed. But since we had paid rent for a long term, we had to persevere through, because we were only looking for money to survive,” Mugenyi says.
The new place was closer to the road and visible to customers. The volume of work increased.
In February 2022, they registered the business and are now receiving larger contracts.
Read the full story in the Harvest Money pullout soon.
LEAD PHOTO CAPTION: Frank Kabale and Daniel Mugenyi with some of the equipment they make.