How I Choose to Challenge COVID-19 in My Business
31 year old Eunice Acen, a poultry farmer in Lira City attended the ICCO Women’s Day pre event Women in Business Forum in Lira. She shares her thoughts on the event, her participation and ambitions as a young female entrepreneur transacting business in a COVID-affected economy.
“When I received the invitation to attend the Women in Business forum I didn’t know exactly what to expect, but I knew that every activity that ICCO has invited me to has been very useful for my business. The activity started in the afternoon on 4th March, and I was excited to see several fellow female entrepreneurs from Lira City that I knew.
It was awkward in the beginning because I guess all of us were expecting a presentation from the facilitator, but then instead she just invited us to take the floor and start sharing our experiences of how we managed to fight through the difficult year of 2020, when COVID-19 hit our businesses very hard. I was shocked, and when I looked around the room, people’s eyes were facing the floor. I could tell that I wasn’t the only person who was afraid to speak before a large crowd.
Anyway, one brave lady stood up and broke the silence with a testimony about her poultry business. She told us that she used to supply eggs to local small restaurants but when COVID-19 shut down the restaurant business, she gave up that business and took up onion production. My heart was touched by her story and as a poultry farmer myself, I could relate with her dilemma. However, while I agree that diversification is good in emergencies, I felt that I needed to encourage all of us as ladies to fight to keep our dreams. I knew I had to share my own experience, but when I looked to the back of the room, more ladies just kept entering and my heart just kept beating faster and faster.
When I took finally the microphone after three other ladies had spoken, I almost gave it back, but thankfully I didn’t. My business was the official poultry supplier of one of the biggest hotels in Lira, and when hotels lost market due to COVID restrictions in gathering, there was no longer any need for my poultry. I had to encourage myself that things will turn around. I decided not to sell off any birds, but to invest in their health and diet, with all my heart. I even adopted some natural foods, which were cheaper to make but very nutritious. It was difficult and painful at times when some of them didn’t survive, but by the time the hotels started working again, I was ready to supply them.
I believe that no matter how narrowly, if our businesses survived the tough lockdown, we will be able to manage even after the pandemic is gone. As young women, we shouldn’t be comfortable with the few customers we have so far, we need to expand and grow rich!”
The #ChoosetoChallenge Women in Business Forums brought together over 100 young female agripreneurs in Nebbi and Lira districts to share experiences and learn from each other’s challenges, successes and coping mechanisms, how to build more resilient local enterprises. The forums also provided a platform for successful local entrepreneurs to inspire the participants with tips and strategies for growing successful businesses.