Annika Allman

Annika Allman (Vital Voices Uganda): A Jamaican-Canadian, Annika earned her Bachelor’s degree in Social Development Studies from the University of Waterloo. As an undergraduate student, she acted as Administrator for the Guyana Red Cross Society's Children's Convalescent Home. She has also worked as a policy analyst for the Canadian International Development Agency. At the time of her fellowship, Annika was pursuing a Master of International Affairs in economic and political development, and interning at the Women's Refugee Commission. After her fellowship, Annika wrote: "I will be more sensitive about the way I think and speak about Africa and Africans. Second, I will be more connected to the world. This has boosted my confidence tremendously. The openness and appreciation (of my hosts) helped me change the way I see myself, my value and my capabilities."

So Much With So Little

01 Sep

The last profile I’ll share here is that of a restaurant owner based in Kampala. She is not (yet) a member of UWEAL, but her story was particularly compelling for me so I wanted to share it here. Enjoy the read and the video just below.

Eleanor Kembabazi Byarugaba has earned her success. Her primary education was long and slow because she alternated between attending school for a term and planting and selling crops to raise her fees for the following term. With only a Primary 8 (grade 8) education, she moved with her husband—a scientist—a to Germany, where she trained to be a cook. On their return to Uganda, she opened a small shop specializing in hamburgers and fries, which were rare treats in Uganda. “If four people were eating, the place was full.”

By 1988, after moving her business between her home and different small rental spaces, she had earned enough to buy three acres of land in Naguru, a high-demand, upscale residential area of Kampala. In addition to catering services, Kembabazi Catering Centre is now a full restaurant, bar and event venue able to serve up to 2,000 people in a single function. Eleanor’s five children are highly involved in the business, and, from time to time, Eleanor herself cooks.

She has done what many MBA-graduates and experienced businesspeople have failed to do. She has built a successful business slowly and steadily over decades by working hard, staying focused and saving her money diligently. In fact, she has been able to thrive with only a few minor loans.

But the growth of her business is threatened by a dispute with her husband. Eleanor says she was “a fool” when she married a man who underestimated and undermined her at every turn. Her husband has sold one third of the land in Naguru without her permission and has taken her to court with various complaints that, although minor, are costly to defend.

Nevertheless, Eleanor will not be deterred. She continues to run a successful business and remarkably, started her O-levels at age 61. Now, at the age of 66, she has completed secondary school and enrolled in university to study social work. She started classes last week.


For a delicious meal in Kampala, visit or email

Posted By Annika Allman

Posted Sep 1st, 2010

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