From Dream to Reality: How a GPFD Scholarship Led to a Thriving Juice Business

by Kwarisima Benia

My name is Kwarisima Benia. I am a beneficiary of Global Partners for Development’s Girl’s Scholarship Program. I was selected to receive a scholarship in 2010 when I had finished my primary education and had no hopes to continue with my studies since my old mother and single parent was unable to support me. GPFD’s scholarship supported me up to 2018, when I graduated into a professional architect with a national diploma. 

Architecture often deals with designing and supervising works. I moved into the field of work, but as a person with a disability, some conditions were not favorable for me. I got my first job supervising a construction site but things did not go as I expected. My mind had always told me that I can be self-employed and run my own business, but capital was so hard to get. However, I didn’t give up on my entrepreneurial goals, I kept on preparing my business ideas though putting them on ground was still a challenge. 

One day, a charitable organization supporting people with disabilities brought in an opportunity called Innovation Challenge where innovative business ideas were submitted online and the one that convinced them was to be funded. It was my great pleasure to work on mine and submit my idea called Production of Sugarcane Juice. A few months later, out of the 12 ideas that were selected, mine was amongst it and funded. 

My dream came true, and to this day, I am taking it higher. It has made me self-employed and allowed me to also employ others. I do different juices but specialize in a unique sugarcane juice that has only three ingredients: sugarcane as the main liquid, ginger for neutralizing sugars, and lemon as a natural preservative.

Today, I have two young girls that I employ. Like any other business, there have been some challenges, benefits, and has some future vision. Let me start with the benefit it has brought to me as a person, the community I live in, and even to the government:

  •  It has become my source of income, allowing me to look after myself and my old mother together with my family. 
  • It helps me pay school fees for a young girl of 11 years who was brought to me as a house maid but she had never gone to school. She is now in her second year of primary school.
  • It has provided jobs to a few people that were also jobless.
  • It has provided revenue to local farmers since my business is based on only local products.
  • It has contributed to the development of my country because I am able to pay monthly taxes.

There are some challenges that I have faced that I am still working out. One of them is related to machinery. I use a manual sugar cane juicer to produce juice which has become so tiresome because customer demand has increased and sometimes I fail to deliver the services on time. Due to a shortage of rental options nearby, the young girls I employ travel long distances to reach the workplace. This often results in late starts, which gives a bad impression to our customers. I wish to keep my product fresh and healthy for a good time so that even the GPFD donors can one time taste its sweetness and freshness.

Additionally, my business has some future visions that I would wish to reach. I wish to improve my machinery so that I can serve more people without difficulties and perhaps acquire an electrical machine that can do it easily. I also wish to make my business global so that I can even pack it and export it. Although currently operating from an outdoor space along the street, my goal is to have a factory and take my business to the level I want. 

Lastly, I want to extend my great appreciation to Global Partners for Development for all their support since 2010, which has significantly shaped my mind into a great innovator. I also thank the members of the Executive Women in Development Association (EWIDA) that kept on encouraging me whenever I lost hope.

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