09 March 2010

Gettin’ by cooking chapattis


(Photo credit: Christopher Lindahl)

One of my favourite Juba lunches is from the Ugandan chapatti guys next to the De-Mining Commission. For about $1 you get a big plate full of eggs and beans with either rice or chapattis.

I always wondered what brought these guys to Juba, and whether they really earned so much more than they did in Uganda.

Lo and behold, the South Sudan Business Week provides the answer (I’m trying to persuade the editor to start a website – you can too – email him at badru dot mulumba at gmail dot com).

Serunkuma had listened to a million stories of how there as a lot of money in Juba; having heard and seen several people return home with a lot to show.

So he spent $10 to spend a week riding on top of a beer truck from Kampala to Juba (saving $15 on the 1-day bus trip).

After an abortive dabble in the construction business, Serunkuma decided to be self employed.

“With my 140 pounds ($50), I decided to start a chapatti business.” In Jebel market, Serunkuma bought a frying pan for $10, paid rent for $4, bought a few packets of wheat flour and salt and he was ready to roll.

Having started with just a few packets of flour now Serunkuma bakes 8 packets and serves chapatti with beans. “I know earn 100 pounds ($30) a day. This is the money I used to earn in two months in Uganda when I used to work at a shop back in the city.

With a total saving of at least $120 a month, Serunkuma has been able to set up a poultry farm back home; and now employs 5 people to work on it.

“While in Uganda, I just couldn’t do certain jobs because the neighbourhood is at watch and wants to know what each neighbour’s son is doing for a living. And when it’s a crappy job, they will laugh at your parents. But here, nobody knows me and in fact, my hard work is people’s happiness.”


See also Gettin’by with a Senke here, and Myles Estey’s series on Gettin’ by in Liberia.

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