When Ms. Brenda Adakuru lost her father in 2003, she was only 13 years old. She was forced to drop out of school before finishing P.7 due to lack of support.
She turned to doing petty business so as to earn some money to meet some of her basic needs.
Three years later she joined Ma-ecora vocational training institute in Arua town for a tailoring course.
She sold her cassava planted in a quarter of an acre piece of land to pay sh60,000 as tuition fees for the first term.
Adakuru’s interest in vocational skills training prompted her brother who is a police officer to support her with sh200,000 for shopping.
While at the training school, Adakuru discovered that hairdressing was an interesting course that she could also train in as well.
She began sneaking to attend lessons with hairdressing students besides tailoring. Her luck ran out one day and she was caught by the institute’s principal administrator and forced to pay for the course.
Adakuru could not afford the extra fees and her studies were consequently interrupted. She skipped school to cook food at a restaurant in Arua town for which she was paid sh15,000 per month. She used that money to pay the extra charges.
Her boyfriend paid some of the tuition fees until she was awarded with certificates in tailoring and hairdressing simultaneously in 2007.
At the time of pass out Adakuru was conversant with four hairstyles. Although that did not hinder her from opening a salon at Godoa trading centre in Oleba sub-county.
Sitting under the verandah of a friends shop, she began plating hair. As she gained experience and confidence, Adakuru also tried and perfected her skills in a variety of hairstyles and fashions that customers demanded.
Turning salon to school
In 2015, Adakuru was approached by a lady who feared that her husband who was studying at a university could divorce her if she did not get skills of generating some income for the family.
She asked Adakuru to train her in hairdressing. This became a watershed moment for Adakuru who from then on turned her verandah salon into a training school.
She named it Oleba public salon and hairdressing school. After successfully training her first student, five more people enrolled.
In 2017 she rented a room in an incomplete building belonging to Mr Stephen Obitre a teacher at Otrutia primary school in Oleba sub-county.
In this room, she does both the salon business and the training for hairdressing students using customers as specimen.
She partitioned the room using ply wood to create an office space. The backspace is used to accommodate at least six trainees in the boarding section.
The rest of the trainees in the boarding section are accommodated in a rented boy’s quarter of nearby residential building.
The floor of the room used for the training is covered with a 2x3 metres long carpet and furnished with wooden and plastic stools to allow mobility. There are two plastic chairs for the customers.
To further popularize her school, Adakuru advertised vacancies in different trading centers in Maracha district.
She enrolled trainees three times last year, closing out the year by training a total of 50 women. The last batch of this year's students are just completing their course.
Adakuru uses a solar lighting system she won in a recent promotion after paying sh100,000 to light the house.
She charges trainees in the boarding section a sh200,000 fee while day students pay sh150,000 as training fee.
On average she collects over sh3m shillings from the trainees as tuition during every enrolment time but remains with the half of that money as a net profit. She also gets over sh1m from regular customers attending services of hair dressing and plating.
According to her customers including Ms Monika Adiru from Bango parish in Oleba Sub County, Adakuru offers a commendable service for the women in the trading centre who used to travel all the way to Arua town to get hairdressing and plating services.
Her efforts caught the attention of the Italian Development Agency, ACAV that chose Oleba public salon and hair dressing school as an apprenticeship centre.
ACAV posted five people trained under its expanding access to skills and labour market for youths (EASY) project to undergo internship Adakuru’s school and in turn gave her sh750,000 monthly financial support.
She says she earns more money from other institutions like Flamino vocational school, Ediofe and Omugo technical school and Lodonga polytechnic institute among others which annually send their students for internship in her salon.
She uses her incomes for acquiring basic needs for her family and her mother while saving in the Oleba savings and credit cooperative organization and at the Centenary rural development bank, Arua branch.
She also pays an operating license fee of sh85,000 annually to Oleba Sub county besides sh50,000 rent charge for the rooms.
Challenges and future plan
Her main challenge is inadequate salon requirements including electricity, hand driers and large plain mirrors.
Adakuru says she plans to buy the missing saloon apparatus and acquire land in Godoa trading centre next year to expand her school.