Julian Omalla, widely known as “Mama Cheers” after the popular “Cheers” juice brand produced by her company Delight Uganda, is now planning to expand by building a new factory in the north of the country.
“When I started Delight Uganda Limited in 1996, I didn’t know much about running a business. I started from scratch and had many challenges to overcome.
I remember walking many kilometers on bad roads and working in my garden from morning to evening. One of the lows came when my business partner ran away with all the money I’d raised to buy stocks. All I had left was a wheelbarrow to bring fruit to market and a red dress!
I couldn’t get banks to fund my business because I didn’t have collateral, so raising funds for expansion was a tedious task. Like most women in Uganda, I had to fall back on savings and put my profits back into the company.
A born entrepreneur
Four years later, I joined the UNCTAD entrepreneurship program which helped me develop and execute my business growth plan. The course built my confidence and learned new skills such as goal setting, accounting, marketing, goal setting and working efficiently to achieve them. I realized that I was born to be an entrepreneur.
Over the years, I stayed in contact with my coaches and honed my entrepreneurial skills. I kept asking questions to improve my business, even on the weekends!
Thanks to my determination and the skills I learned, I grew the company to the point that at one point we had 60 percent of the juice market in Uganda, with a processing line producing 12,000 liters of fruit drinks per day. In addition, we diversified into other business activities such as poultry farming, corn feed production, a flour mill and a bakery.
Share the success
In the past, juice concentrate was important to us because it was difficult to source high-quality, locally grown fresh fruit. However, in 2011 the company acquired 1,700 acres of land to grow fruit trees such as mangoes, guavas, and citrus and formed the Nwoya Fruit Growers Cooperative, which has 5,000 members, most of them (3,750) women.
Each of these women has at least one acre of orchard mixed with short-term seasonal crops for income and sustainability. In one season, they can earn up to $ 1,850 from an acre of land. And through the Delight Farm Institute we create new and decent jobs and offer many a better livelihood. New factory, new horizons
This year we received $ 10 million in funding from the Ugandan government that will allow us to build a modern fresh juice factory that will allow us to add value to the fruits grown by local farmers and the growing market demand especially for dried fruits to satisfy mangoes.
Winning the UNCTAD award was so motivating for me! I plan to create a center of excellence where academics can share their knowledge to help us achieve international standards and export our products to all corners of the world.
I think the reason for our success is our commitment to the community. The people of northern Uganda suffered so much during the civil war and I believe our success will help them be empowered and survive. ”