In a male dominated business of metal wielding and fabrication, 44 year old Jane Werikhe also a mother of four has earned a living since 2013.Jane Werikhe who owns a welding and metal fabrication workshop along Entebbe road in the suburbs of Kampala left her teaching job where she was earning 29 US dollars monthly for the fabrication business which she found better paying. From then she has never looked back.
At her workshop Jane Werikhe hires about six other men and a lady to make sofa chairs, beds, flower vests, handbag racks among other things.
The beds at her workshop are sold at a minimum of 148 dollars earning her a minimum profit of about 48 dollars per bed.
Mrs. Werikhe sells her products through social media adverting and it is through this that many have come to appreciate her work.
Genesis of Werikhe’s Job
Mrs. Werihe says she had to sell her at 2380 US dollars to start her workshop in 2010.
The car had been given to her by her husband after the birth of their first baby but she had no other source of funds to start the workshop and the car was the only available option.
Today Werikhe says she does not regret selling her car to start her business as she has got something better that can give her as many cars as she wants.
Werikhe says whenever she meets people the Question of “how do you as a woman manage a male dominated job always?” pops up.
She says her answer is always that women should always learn to partner with others and also stop under looking or over looking jobs.
Mrs. Werikhe smiled during the interview and said “she grew up with a notion that what men can do women can do better if given a chance”.
Indeed this notion speaks volumes on Werihe whom I found dusting the rust off the metals and smoothening the edges of other finished products awaiting painting.
Werikhe’s says her main challenge is that of the on and off power supply at her workshop as well as the high power tariffs in Uganda.
“Sometimes power goes off on a day a bid order and as a result you lose the business” Werikhe said.
She also notes that like many other Ugandan businesses that stalled following the war in South Sudan, hers also got a setback as she used to export most of her products to South Sudan Clients which fetched her a higher price than what she gets from selling her products within the country.
She also finds a problem convincing men to buy metal fabrication from a woman’s workshop
Achievements from the business
Werihe has used her metal fabrication business to set up a stationary business from which she earns a supplementary income.
She has also helped her husband to buy a plot of land for erection of their family house.
Mrs. Werikhe is now planning to buy her own truck or a fleet of trucks to use while transporting her clients’ orders as it is currently costly for her to hire cars for transportation.
She also plans to open up show rooms in other parts of the country and across the East African Region.
Advice to fellow women and government
Mrs. Werihe advises women to look beyond looking for professional jobs using their degrees or other academic qualifications but also venture into business.
“I did not get the attention I am getting today during those days when I was a teacher. Today I have attracted attention from local and International Media Writing about my metal fabrication business. Can you imagine I even get orders from government ministries, departments and Non-Government organizations!” exclaimed Mrs. Werihe.
She has called on the Ugandan government to put more emphasis on teaching practical work instead of theory in schools and encourage more young girls and women to acquire skills in those jobs that have been branded “male Jobs”.
Werihe says society should also break those taboos that ring fence particular jobs for the males and stereotype women as a weak gender that should only do those soft jobs.