Tusubira ekes a living through mobile money  

When Harriet Tusubira came to the city in 2018, the only person she knew was an aunt who was living in Namugongo.

From Masindi where she had been in an abusive relationship, she decided to move to Namugongo to live with her aunt and to look for better opportunities.

“I was born into a family of modest means. Despite the financial challenges, my parents prioritized education but I did not go far due to lack of school fees,” Tusubira says.

In Namugongo, Tusubira took up a series of odd jobs, from working as a shop attendant to a cashier at a local supermarket.

“It was during this time that I noticed the growing popularity of mobile money services. With minimal capital required and a high demand for the service, I saw an opportunity,” says the mother of two.

She decided to become a mobile money agent, a decision that would change her life.

Starting out with her savings and a small loan from a microfinance institution, Tusubira set up her first mobile money kiosk in Kyaliwajjala. The early days were fraught with challenges. One of the biggest hurdles was competition.

She says Kyaliwajjala, like many urban centers, was saturated with mobile money agents. Standing out required more than just being present; it required exceptional service and building trust with customers.

She also says security was another significant concern. Handling cash transactions in a busy area made Tusubira’s kiosk a potential target for theft.

Through perseverance and a focus on customer service, Tusubira’s business began to grow.

I made it a point to remember my regular customers’ names and needs, providing a personal touch that set me apart from competitors. My reputation for reliability and friendliness spread, and soon I was handling transactions not only for individuals but also for small businesses in the area,” she says.

With the success of her first kiosk, she was able to repay her loan and save enough to open two more kiosks in nearby areas.

Her journey was not only about financial gain but also about empowerment. She has actively participated in community meetings, advocating for the benefits of mobile money services and encouraging other young women to consider entrepreneurship. Her efforts earned her recognition from local business associations, and she was invited to speak at various forums on youth entrepreneurship.

Advice to young people

Tusubira advises young people to remain resilient and open-minded.

 “Opportunities often come disguised as challenges,” she says.

“When you encounter a problem, don’t give up. Instead, think creatively about how you can turn it into a business opportunity.”

She also emphasizes the importance of financial discipline. Tusubira managed to grow her business by carefully managing her earnings, reinvesting profits, and avoiding unnecessary debts.

“Start small and grow steadily. Don’t rush into big investments without understanding the risks,” she advises.

She says building a support network with other business owners helped her navigate the challenges of maintaining e-money liquidity and ensuring security.

“Don’t isolate yourself. Connect with others in your field, share experiences, and support each other,” she urges.

Tusubira says in business, learning should be continuous.

Even without a formal business education, she took advantage of workshops and training sessions offered by local organizations.

 “The world is constantly changing, and you need to keep learning to stay relevant,” she says.

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