Creativity pays my bills – Ayebare

As Uganda recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, business startups aim to recover from the setbacks and rebuild their businesses. However, it is very challenging, especially for women-led businesses because of the gender stereotypes and beliefs pasted in people’s minds.

According to the International Labor Organization, women in Uganda make up 52.5% of the labor force and are an important pool of potential talent to help Uganda meet its development goals, especially in the area of entrepreneurship and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) growth.

However, it is generally known that women face more challenges than men in starting, managing and growing their enterprises as they are more likely to be impeded by a lack of the necessary capacities, skills and resources. They are more disadvantaged than men due to legal impediments, established cultural norms and attitudes about women’s roles, less mobility, and the unequal demands of domestic responsibilities on their time.

While the business sector is a fighting ground for women to belong, Ritah Ayebare, a community-based rehabilitation graduate from Kyambogo University is the rising woman and founder of crafting around 256 and a social media influencer. Ayebare has taken bottle décor to a whole new level using the yarn bottle wrapping technique. She also engages in photography and digital marketing.  Here is her story:

What inspired you to start?

I started it as a way to recycle wine bottles to make home décor. After my studies, I went through the usual job-hunting process and ended up as a shop attendant in the city. While at this job, I had some extra time on hand. So, I began practicing what seemed like an ordinary hobby and learned yarn bottle wrapping till I was skilled enough. This is how I started ‘crafting around 256’ in 2016. I am self-taught and gained most of my learning on YouTube and Pinterest.

My skills are not only limited to making yarn wrapped bottles but also wristbands, yarn chockers, scarfs, phone jackets, colored paper cone and string art. I also do décor for homes and events. Today it’s not just a shop, but a growing business.

Why craft?

Well, I like creating things and I’m also a lover of art which is why I prefer to create things from scratch. All my products are handmade and their uniqueness markets them.

How did the pandemic effect your business?

At some point, I did not readily have the materials I use for making my crafts because accessing them was really tough. There was no transportation means to go to the shopping centers where I happen to purchase them. In fact, for about 2 months during the first lockdown, I wasn’t producing anything.

How have you benefited from this venture?

Well, my craft pays my bills. I have also learnt new skills and meeting new creatives in the industry time and again motivates me to be more creative and hang in there.

How would you evaluate success?

From where I’m standing, I would not say successful but I am moving in the right direction.

What challenges do you face?

Sometimes, clients can be problematic. One time, a client insisted on me delivering the pieces to his home past regular working hours. (I usually use SafeBoda delivery service). This gentleman said that I should deliver them myself if I want the money. He was rude about it and this actually threatened my safety and I didn’t deliver.

What motivates you to press on?

Clients and friends who are always giving me feedback to keep on doing the good work. Not only do I love crafting, it helps me pay my bills. So why not?

What advice would you give someone interested in starting a business?

All I can say is patience, patience, and more patience plus consistency and discipline. These three traits are very important and not for just yarn wrapping but all forms of business.