After graduating with a Master’s Degree in Human Resources Management, Ms Sidonah Kyomugasho, a human resource practitioner, hung up the formal employment gloves.
“I needed to nurture my children and formal employment was not affording me that opportunity,” she says.
Thereafter were a few business opportunities such as opening up a supermarket, and making and packaging wine and juice. The deal was that it had to be something that allowed her to spend more time with the children, unhindered.
In all this, Ms Kyomugasho had an undeniable love for good food and shared good meals with her family and friends. They loved it so much as to turn her into the designated chef for family gatherings.
“I was always in the kitchen, making salads or preparing a dish. Then friends asked why I was not doing it as a side business but I brushed it off,” she says.
However, in August 2018, one friend pushed her out of her comfort zone by nominating her to cater to their family party. While Sid, as many call her, refused, this persistent friend sent the ‘food money’ to Ms Kyomugasho’s mobile money account, leaving her no option but to rise up to the occasion.
“I prepared the meal but being the cook and delivery person, I arrived two hours late. But the food was nice and I stretching to serving 80 people from the expected 50,” she says. Thereafter, word went around about Ms Kyomugasho’s catering prowess and Sid’s Table Affairs was birthed. Then came Facebook- the game changer, helping her meet and serve people she had never thought of interfacing with.
From the first clients, she earned Shs750,000 for 50 guests.
For long, Ms Kyomugasho had detested the fact that while everything else at many functions was well catered to, in some instances, food had never had the excitement it needed to match up the day.
“Oftentimes, no extra effort has been made to prepare food fit for the function. So I am out there to serve good food and create beautiful food memories,” she says.
Ms Kyomugasho started the catering journey in her house and whatever culinary items therein served as her startup capital. Along the way, a few friends gave her gigs, it could be preparing food for 20 or 30 people.
“I would not say that I began with a particular income as the customer’s deposit was a seed I had. Therefore, whenever a deposit was made, I got some money to buy a few plates and cutlery. Therefore, whatever profit I made was ploughed back into the business,” she says.
Making it happen
Ms Kyomugasho is very thankful for her family’s support, more so her husband who has been a great support. “When we met, I told him about a couple of things I desired and good food for money was among them. He helped me feel comfortable and always chipped in to make it possible for me to cater to one event or another. If picking up and dropping off the children made it easier for me to work, he did it. However, since we have always worked during the weekend, I made up for a family time during the week,” he says.
Additionally, Ms Kyomugasho was blessed with good maids in that if she was away shopping or serving, they handled the other domestic chores.
Managing a factory and other big entities helped Ms Kyomugasho learn how to cost. Therefore, her food prices helped her make a profit. “I also discussed the menu with the client before delivery,” she says.
The human resource skills also helped her spot the right people to work with.
“Although, most of her staff is short term, owing to the human resource prowess, most of those she has been with since 2018 are still part of Sid Table Affairs,” she says.
Though in the food industry, Ms Kyomugasho had no formal training hence learning to cook, bake and a lot more through self-teaching. As such, she has watched every food channel on TV and read all the food articles she could lay her hands on.
“I have also consulted with some people, starting with my family members who have graciously tasted all my food and shared candid feedback. I have also done a lot of research because, in this industry, you cannot count on anyone to do the work for you entirely as they will disappoint you,” she says.
In terms of making money, Kyomugasho says, “My profit depends on the number of guests served and the type of menu they order for. It may range between Shs150,000 and Shs2m.”
Food costs: Every day, the cost of food increases yet some clients want a caterer to maintain the prices as at the start. Additionally, some foods are seasonal yet clients might need them.
“It is really challenging to convince the client to adjust the price yet some may not also have the money. Therefore, by the time you reach an agreement on the cost of food, it is a tag of war but we hung in there,” she says. However, Ms Kyomugasho says they have grown to get a smaller profit but keep with their clients. That comes from learning that if you serve someone today, they will recommend you for a housewarming, a baptism or a confirmation party.
“Our goal is to serve more people to meet our costs.”
Unreliable transport: The business demands require personal transport, say when you need to serve two to three people in a day. However, hired transport is unreliable. “I am working on getting a truck of our own to ease work,” Ms Kyomugasho says.
Scarce skilled staff: At times, Ms Kyomugasho needs extra hands such as the chefs but sometimes they promise and never show up.
“I am thankful that I started solo and hence learned a couple of things. However, if this person were to fill a gap that you are ignorant about, it becomes tough,” she says. She adds there is a high staff turnover in the hospitality industry yet many never tell you when they are leaving.
Ms Kyomugasho still works from home but feels she has outgrown it. “I need to move away from home to serve more people. However, at the moment, the places I have visited have high rent fees,” she says.
Every time Ms Kyomugasho gets a satisfactory look on her clients’ faces after a catering service is very rewarding. “When a client tells you that you did them proud. I live for such moments. That is also because, during most wedding meetings, it is a tug of war before a caterer is given the job. Therefore, to receive appreciative comments makes my heart swell with joy,” she says.
The other moment is when she gets a new client and they say it is from a recommendation from another. “Referrals, more so when one believes in you without ever interacting with you is amazing,” she says.
However, Ms Kyomugasho says she could never have come this far without the support of her staff who put in very many long hours without complaining.
“They have understood the assignment and have given Sid’s Table Affairs the mileage to expand. I am super proud of each one of them and could never ask for a better team,” she says.
The other progress driver is the food suppliers who have over time understood the desired quality of food and sometimes deliver to her at no cost. “On other days, they deliver at short notice even when I do not have cash at hand. They have made this journey smooth in one way or the other,” she says.
Sid’s Table Affairs looks to expand its service base to deliver food to three or four companies daily “We have developed capacity. Once the transport is sorted, it will be a walkover,” she says.
Most culinary schools are quite costly so Ms Kyomugasho looks to have a space to train people who despite the desire never had the opportunity to go to a culinary school.
“I would like to teach these the basic skills to make it in life. It will be my way to give back to the community hence looking to give it at a subsidised rate,” she says.
Working with children
She works with her children (14 years to six years) and thankfully, they understand the business. “I am at ease to ask them to pack for the next workstation when I am away.
Source: The Daily Monitor