My name is Monica Adokorach, I am 28 years old and I live in Nwoya district, Uganda. I am a hairstylist and I own a salon in the Nwoya market. It is from the salon that I earn a living to take care of myself and my eleven-year-old son. I also use the income from the salon to pay for his tuition.
I have a physical impairment and walking long distances is a challenge for me, so I usually rely on bodabodas to take me to my salon and return me home. However, when COVID-19 hit the country, we were put under lockdown, and everything came to a standstill. Bodabodas were stopped from transporting people and so I could not access my salon. Some of my fellow hairdressers were then forced to do house calls, where they meet their customers at their homes and style their hair, but I couldn’t because I cannot walk long distances without feeling pain. I also had to close my business because it is in the marketplace, and it was one of the directives given by the government to keep business stations closed.
During the lockdown, one individual called Simon reached out to me. He told me about his work as a Disability Inclusion Facilitator with Light for the World and told me of an initiative the organization had started. They were identifying entrepreneurs with disabilities like myself whose businesses had been affected by COVID-19 and wanted to support them with start-up capital to either revive or do a new business. I have always loved working on hair, so I knew that this was where I am going to invest.
After meeting with Simon, he helped me draw a business plan and after a short while, I was informed that I was going to receive the capital. This capital came just in time when the lockdown was eased, and salons were reopened for business. I restocked my salon, bought materials like hair relaxers, hairpieces, and hair oils, which I used for my clients. I bought them in bulk because I also resell them to other salon owners. That is where I earn my profits.
I also used some of the money to invest in agriculture; I planted 2 acres of groundnuts and maize but unfortunately, due to poor climate conditions, I did not yield much; but this has not broken my spirit. I am now retrying, and this time with soybeans and millet. I believe I shall be able to make some yields which I will sell and earn more profits.
As I wait for my plants to yield, I am continuing with my salon business, it is picking up and I am making many retail sales. From these sales, I am planning to complete paying off my piece of land, and I also want to expand my business into a wholesale cosmetic shop. I want to become the leading hair product supplier in Nwoya district, where instead of people going to Gulu and Arua district to buy hair products, they get them from me. I will move to the roadside to boost my accessibility for those who want to buy from me. I am determined, I know that I will be able to achieve my goals.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people world-over have been affected, including people with disabilities. Many of their businesses have closed due to lack of or limited market, and limited knowledge and skills to start up new businesses. To address this, Light for the World through its COVID-19 response program has been able to support entrepreneurs with disabilities such as Monica, to rebuild and revitalize their businesses, thus changing their lives.