Kiyungu, the business that grew from a university hostel snack outlet to a major catering company

In July 2018, Brenda Bantu Tuti, a kindergarten school teacher formed a WhatsApp group with which she invited a couple of friends to join. Shortly after forming the group, she organized them for a meeting whose agenda was to be announced at the meeting itself. 

Her six friends trusted her with their time and attended the meeting, hoping to hear the big announcement. “Something guided me in forming this group and choosing who I should invite. Because I seem to have made the right choices in all six of the members,” Tuti says, adding that she had earlier created another group of mostly or almost all men, and when she told them about turning it into an investment group, they all had different ideas, thus forcing her to close the group and reopen another. 

With her experience as a food vendor, Tuti, sold the idea that the group should invest in a catering business. 

“I started the cooking business in 2015, when I had just completed my Bachelor’s Degree in Education which I studied for at Ugandan Christian University. Upon completion, I was not comfortable with the idea of returning home. So I went to live with a friend at Land Mark Hostel in Makerere.”

Tuti says Land Mark is where she chose to take the leap. “I started out making burgers and other fast foods for students in and around the hostel,” she says. 

She adds that together with her friend, they printed fliers and pinned them at the entrance to the room and also at the hostel gate. 

From the sales of the fast foods, Tuti, trading as Tuti’ Snacks was able to maintain herself as well as her host in the room. 

That same year, the university organised its first Alumni event and her friend Juliet encouraged her to cater for the event. She however, was unable to raise the money to stock up on supplies for the event. 

“My cousin Abbas, for a reason I am yet to understand offered to lend me the money for the supplies,” Tuti says.  With Shs500,000, Tuti organized and cooked enough food for the event, expecting 150 people as told by the organisers. 

“The Alumni get-together flopped badly. In fact, I think I only made sales of about Shs50,000,” Tuti says, evidently still disappointed three years since the flop. She carried the untouched food back to Land Mark Hostel and froze it, wondering what to do with the huge amounts of food. 

The next day, she took the food to her friend’s house where a host of other friends feasted. She has no regrets for the decision to give away the food. 

“Everyone appreciated the food and it is at that party that I got a big following. Since then most of the customers I get wherever I cook at an event are referrals from that day I gave out food,” Tuti says, adding that since then she has cooked at almost all editions of the Blankets and Wine festival and many other shows.   

During the meeting with her friends, the group gave direction on how the business should be carried forward. It was then that the name Kiyungu, a luganda translation of the kitchen, was suggested and adopted. 

Many other ideas flowed at the meeting, which also suggested house calls, where the chef is invited to cook food at people’s homes for a fee. 

Another of the ventures that Kiyungu does is the pop up dining. Under this arrangement, the group organize an event and invite potential clients through social media and other means. The location is left undisclosed until after one has paid. 

The first pop-up dining that was hosted at Naguru Hill Top Restaurant and according to Sharon Alinda, the head of marketing for Kiyungu, it was a big success, hosting 15 people for a French Cuisine event. 

After the Hill Top event they later hosted clients for an island experience that remains the talk of the town till this date. About 30 Clients were hosted at the Estate in Entebbe Alinda says. 

She adds that since the island experience, the demand to attend pop-up dining has doubled and now their worry is that they may have to host numbers which could compromise the quality of the events. 

As a business venture, Alinda explains that they have acquired some partners who advertise their products and also supply Kiyungu with items to use at events. 

The pop-up dining events have also worked as networking events for business owners. The business has since grown to do home catering as well as events and corporate functions. 

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