In 2017, Mary Rose Zawedde explored the Internet and read widely about rosemary.
She discovered it was more than a spice but a culinary herb as well.
At that time, she was working as a monitoring and evaluation officer at a charity organization in Seguku along Kampala- Entebbe road.
Zawedde started with 10 plants which she bought at sh5,000 each.
“I planted them in the space between the house and the fence,” she shares.
A few months later, she started harvesting the leaves. She would dry them under the shade, grind them into powder, pack them in ice cream tins and sell them to her colleagues at the office.
Zawedde is 33 years old.
Her customers loved it but complained that the powder was not fine.
In 2018, Zawedde resigned from her job to concentrate on growing her business.
“I went to Nasser Road, Kampala and found an artist who I worked with to come up with a good label,” she recollects.
She got in touch with growers in Wakiso district. She would buy a kilo of fresh spice at sh10,000 and get 500 grams of powder.
“I realized it was expensive and decided to grow my own plants on a large scale,” she recalls.
She bought an acre of land in Busiika, Luweero district with her fiancé and planted rosemary.
She would harvest, and dry the spice before taking it to a factory for processing.
“I got profits within the first two months. I sold to my family, friends and on social media,” she says.
By early 2019, Zawedde’s business had taken shape. She registered it under the name; Start Young, Prosper Young Ltd.
“I chose that name to inspire young people to start businesses early,” she says adding, “Business can shield the owner from financial frustrations.”
Zawedde believes that once young people are empowered, they can start and sustain businesses.
Growing her business
After registering her company, Zawedde joined PEWOSA, a program that empowers budding entrepreneurs under one local radio. Before the advent of COVID-19, she would attend their exhibitions to sell her products.
Zawedde also joined CURAD incubation Centre in Namulonge, Wakiso district as an incubate. She received training and access to packaging facilities.
Zawedde employs six people directly and eight indirectly including those that help at the farm. Others help with packing, marketing and delivery. She pays them according to the work done.
Meanwhile, she started with one kilo which she sold over four months. She later increased to three kilos and currently produces 15kgs of rosemary powder monthly.
She has 100g packs which she sells at sh15,000. Zawedde also sells seedlings at sh5,000 each.
Meanwhile, she says this plant is easy to grow. You just buy seedlings and plant them. Ensure to water and give them manure once in a while.
Elsewhere, Zawedde’s company has scooped accolades.
For example; she scooped the 2021 Youth Inspiring Youth in Agriculture Initiative (YIYA) championships for Wakiso district. It is organised by the Ministry of agriculture, FAO and Makerere University Business School (MUBS).
She also won a pitch session at the 2019 Acceleration of Market for Women in Agribusiness.
Who is Zawedde?
She attended Kasubi primary school, Buloba high school for her O levels and Lubiri SSS for her A levels.
After, she enrolled at Uganda Christian University in Mukono for a bachelor of Social Work and Social Administration.