13 November 2012

Uganda: At 26, Ineku is a Global Entrepreneur

When Judith Ineku solicited sh4m from her family members in 2006 to pursue her dream of venturing into real estate business, little did she know that six years down the road, her enterprise would propel her to great heights.

Ineku, 26, emerged among the five finalist female entrepreneurs vying for the prestigious 2012 Empretec Women in Business Award (E-WBA) organised by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

The conference was aimed at rewarding inspirational entrepreneurs across the globe especially those whose works have helped improve the lives of communities they operate from.

Ineku submitted a project detailing a captivating chronology of her real estate business journey that has seen her establish IJB Real Estate, a firm dealing in constructing low-cost housing units.

Her spark of inspiration to join business emanated from the various training sessions she regularly attended at Enterprise Uganda since her S6 vacation. The entrepreneur is also currently employed by the agency as a marketing executive.

"I conceived this business idea with meagre resources, but with a strong conviction that it would one day turn into a heavily capitalized venture. What amazes me, however, is that the rate at which the investment grows is beyond my expectations," she says.

The young entrepreneur's company now has housing units in Seguku on Entebbe Road and a range of commercial units around the same area.

Her ventures provide full and part-time employment opportunities to the youth living in the area.

Ineku recounts that although the money offered to her as initial capital enabled her to buy land, she personally secured building materials.

She said she got involved in moulding bricks, some of which she would sell to buy other building materials and pay her workers.

Ineku has been earning an average of $54,000 (sh135m) annually for the last three years and plans to establish supermarkets and health centres specialising in maternity services.

Other attributes that helped Ineku stand out is her being young and a lady engaged in the real estate sector, which, in Uganda and Africa is largely dominated by men.

Her journey in the business has been driven by self-belief and well-calculated creativity as opposed to the traditional avenues of taking mortgages.

"I have not taken any bank loans yet, I have only relied on my entrepreneurial insight and tokens of appreciation from well-wishers.

This helps me to plough much of my revenues back into the business to boost its growth," she says.

Ineku's real estate story has been used by national leaders like the President, the First Lady, parliamentarians, ministers as well as university lecturers to inspire other youth to opt for entrepreneurship to curb unemployment.

"On the international scene, my achievement has been received and used as an inspiring example by the respected London Business School, Tanzania Private Sector Foundation and the January 2010 Expert Meeting on Science and Technology in Geneva," says the young investor.

Ineku, being a successful investor, serves as a vivid example to local and international audiences she engages with while executing her additional duties as a trainer in the government spearheaded Business Enterprise Startup Tool (BEST)

"We have always looked at Ineku as a fertile seed that absorbs quickly. We consider her investments and presence in the world's entrepreneurs race as an exceptional achievement for her age and gender," says Charles Ocici, Enterprise Uganda executive director.

More about the awards

Empretec Women in Business Award (E-WBA) has been awarded every two years since 2008 to women trained by national Empretec centres.

It attracts thousands of project submissions and seeks out women that have excelled in developing innovative business ideas, providing jobs and increasing income in their communities.

The E-WBA has had a real impact on the lives of recipients, their access to education and resources, and their motivation to continue developing their enterprises.

The special recognition provided by E-WBA has helped women to become role models in their communities as successful micro-entrepreneurs working to improve the quality of life of the people around them.

The inspiring stories of the women entrepreneurs honoured have made the past two Award programmes a great success and have paved the way for the third Empretec Women in Business Award.

Beatrice Ayulu Byaruhanga, the proprietor of Lira Integrated Secondary School scooped the first prize in the 2010 awards.

This year's award ceremony will take place next month at the UNCTAD headquarters in Switzerland.

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