Martha Awor, 30, is a farm produce dealer in Odokomit, Lira City West, Uganda. She began her produce-buying and selling business Victory Agro Dealer in 2019 after being laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic repercussions.
Martha acknowledges COVID-19 as the motivating factor in starting her business. She says, “After losing my job I had to find a way to keep a steady source of income”. Martha joined a savings group and over the course of one year, she accumulated one million Uganda shillings (USD 278), which she used to start purchasing and selling produce.
Soon after starting her business, Martha joined YBI’s High Flyers Youth Entrepreneurship Programme, delivered by our member Cordaid Uganda and funded by Argidius. The financial literacy training she received through the programme enabled her to take her business to the next level. She says “When I first started my business, I mindlessly spent all my profit. In Cordaid’s financial literacy training I learned about the benefits of saving even small amounts. It dramatically opened my eyes to all the money I was losing without saving and how much it harmed my business.”
Cordaid Uganda also matched Martha with a business mentor who provided ongoing support and guidance on critical business decisions Martha needed to make to expand her business and success.
Martha cites climate change and the increase in extreme weather events as the biggest challenge for her business. Droughts, floods, and high winds degrade soils and landscapes and harm crops and in turn, her business. Inadequate internal road systems harmed by extreme weather also raise the price of transporting agricultural products. Martha faces the additional challenge of living with Albinism, which means she has to avoid exposure to intense solar rays and send her employees to source produce during the hot and dry seasons. Martha currently employs two people who assist with sorting, packaging, loading and delivery of the produce.
Martha works on retaining and growing her customer base by using social media to promote her business and developing a digital marketing strategy. Her goal is to open a larger store in the centre of Lira City where her agro produce will be readily available.