By Evas Beineki
The business landscape within Nkumba University continues to shrink as small business owners struggle to find balance amidst exorbitant rent fairs.
Statistics obtained from the office of the Guild Prime Minister indicate that out of the 35 businesses registered at the beginning of the semester, only 15 have fully cleared operational requirements including rent, 16 face eviction over 2 months & rent arrears, and 4 have since closed.
To understand the situation, we talked to Namukasa Parvin, an Ice Cream Vendor.
According to Namukasa, high rent charges are the biggest burden, “Maintaining competitive pricing for our ice cream products becomes a delicate balance due to escalating operational costs.
It a challenge that echoes through our entire business model, but the all draws down to rent charged, I pay three hundred thousand shillings per month that is a lot given the size of my business.”
However, Akatwijuka Grace, a stationary business owner faults procedural policies that she says trigger delays in merchandise delivery affecting business operations in the long run.
Akatwijuka says navigating the clearance process is “a hectic affair”, “You have to wait for your goods to be cleared at the gate, there is only one person to handle that and his absence means waiting.” Said Akatwijuka
Akatwijuka adds that inventory issues and stock outs become inevitable when faced with delays, “Meeting customer demands in a timely fashion is integral to our success, and these logistical hurdles impact our bottom line success.” She added.
Edmond Kananura, a business administration student who has been analyzing the situation observed that, whereas factors like the stringent merchandise clearance process contribute to worrying business situation, the surging rent charges imposed by the Guild Government only add salt to the wound, ”The problem is rent, how can someone with a capital of 800,000/= pay rent close to half of his capital, if they are paying 300,000/= per month, that is a lot given the prevailing situation,” said Kananura.
Kananura now wants Guild Parliament to intervene, revise the rent charges and come up with a more flexible operational policies.
Nkumba University Guild Vice President, H.E Kamara Angela maintains that the Guild Government will continue with the current rate until a more flexible plan is unanimously sought forth, ”Rent charges are intricately tied to the university financial needs, However, we are actively exploring more flexible payment plans to ease their financial burden.” Said Kamara.
Last month, Piol Tiek, the speaker of the Guild Parliament revealed how Parliament had plans to table a motion that sought to reduce rent charges in response to the situation.
Business owners had threatened to protest but Piol emphasizes active dialogue. ”We are committed to addressing concerns raised by small business owners. Ongoing initiatives include policy reviews related to rent charges and efforts to create a more business-friendly environment within the University,”
Navigating the labyrinth of challenges, small businesses at Nkumba University persevere in their pursuit of economic sustainability.
As vital contributors to the local economy, they play an important role in fostering growth and bringing the much-needed services closer to students however, an investigative exploration reveals that these enterprises face a myriad of challenges.