South Sudanese musician becomes an entrepreneur

April 6, 2018 Africa , Business , News , OPINION/NEWS , OTHER

 

By

Gift Friday

 

 

A former musician from Yambio of the South Sudanese Gbudue State, who is now a refugee in Uganda, has gone into a different line of work to support his family. Stephen Wandu and his family have sold beaded bags, necklaces, and earrings decorated with different cultural textiles and flags to put food on the table

 

Stephen Wandu, also known by his stage name Ambassador Koko, fled to Uganda in 2016 with his wife Monica and three children after fighting in Yambio between government forces and the Arrow Boys intensified.

 

“Life in Uganda was extremely hard. First of all we had to go and register as urban refugees expecting that we would be able to get support from existing humanitarian organizations around here but unfortunately the little support we get could not even sustain us, he said.

 

He said they were unable to afford food, only eating one meal a day.

 

“Our kids were not studying because we could not access the support from other organizations,” he added.

 

Wandu said he wrote to different projects and approached humanitarian organizations supporting refugees in Uganda about funding to start a new project but received no support.

 

He then sat down with his wife and created a business plan. He sent his wife for training on how to make beaded bags, necklaces, bangles and earrings at the Hope of Children and Women Victims center in Kampala with the help of the church.

 

Wandu says they had to launch their business in October last year.

 

“This business has really changed our life situation from worse to at least fair, for almost two years our children were not able going to school, but this year we have put them in school, we are able to afford different food items that we could not afford and we are able also to pay our own rent,” Wandu said.

 

Wandu said his business has employed four people who help them earn 18-hundred shillings or about 50 dollars a week. In a typical week, he receives about 70 orders worth about 13-hundred dollars.

 

 

 

 

Wandu-a graduate of Public Relations \university-says he uses Facebook and other social media to advertise his products locally before opening an online account with the shopping web site ETSY under the name Animbue Art Crafts World.

 

He said most of his online customers are from South Sudan, Sudan and Malawi, while some others are from Norway, Australia and the US.

 

“To South Sudan we are selling the bags starting from 6 thousand SSP, and to other African countries, we sell them at 40 dollars, this including posting charges from the post office to the various destinations around Africa and abroad, we sell them at 65 dollars.”

 

Wandu says he used the little he had for transport and sometimes walks, footing in the busy Kampala trafficked road. He says he sat down with his wife and thought of what to do to make his kids’ future more secure.

 

He praised his wife for always having been very gifted at making things, something Wandu describes as real artistic flair.

 

He says they have plans of reaching South Sudanese women in refugee camps to train them but financial income has not made this possible.

 

“We would like to extend this knowledge to the refugee camps, so that we can be able to teach the suffering women in camps on how to make this but on our own we cannot afford it. We still have plans, and perhaps there are other organizations who would like to hire us so that we can teach the women in the camp.”

 

Monica Animbue, Director of Animbue Arts Craft World, said she wakes up early every day to make beaded baskets with the help of her husband.

 

She said with the profits from their business they are able to rent a two bedroom house in Namasuba, a suburb of Kampala. She says the only challenge she faces is when there many orders made for the products since she is the only one handling the work.

 

Animbue encourages South Sudanese women refugees in Uganda to be creative.

 

“Let us not sleep, we have to work hard to support our children and support our country, we have to plan, what can we do to help our family, when you are there in a situation don’t be there and cry. You have to think what you can do,” she said.

 

Animbue said she plans to take her skills to South Sudan where she can train other women how to earn a living and survive on their own.

 

She said their aim is to maintain a high standard of artisan craftsmanship while capturing some of the patterns and colors of South Sudanese cultural textiles.

 

 

 

 

gift-friday

Gift Friday

Freelance Journalist from South Sudan, based in Kampala.

Editor review

2 Comments

  1. Gaaniko Michael Macintosh April 06, at 09:04

    that is a great initiative to have such rich minds which are innovative, this is the best way south Sudanese can avoid over dependence and become self sustained, good inspiration

    Reply
  2. denayadennis April 06, at 08:34

    Great job Friday but the guy is still in the music industry. He is a great guy with great mind

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply