“Did you know that 80 percent of Marine life is lost due to plastic waste?” Patience’s question rings through the Innovation Village Space in Mbarara as she takes the floor to pitch. Patience is adorned in a long string of colorful beads and soon enough we find out that this necklace is a jewelry piece she made from recycling paper. It’s part of the many hand crafts from her business, Nature’s Gift. Patience explains that her business name comes from her appreciation of Nature’s beauty and her desire to preserve it. Patience’s love for the environment is what inspired her, to repurpose plastic into art pieces that can be used as home décor, on a table nearby, a centerpiece of flowers for a coffee table is later explained to be a plastic water bottle creatively wrapped in Yarn among many other beautiful crafts. Like many businesses of youth in Uganda, Nature’s gift was also born at the intersection of passion for something and an existing need. With the need to survive and sustain herself since Patience’s guardians couldn’t provide everything she needed especially for school, this sent her searching for a source of income to solve this.
An internet search led Patience to a YouTube Video of an Indian woman making paper bags out of banana fibers, a testament to the power of the internet in dispensing knowledge and connecting people . This was a lightbulb moment for Patience, with an overabundance of banana plantations in her environment and fiber, Patience began making paper bags. Patience lifts up the earthy brown paper bags proudly, she adds that by using fiber to make the paper bags, besides it providing a source of sustenance for her, it combats deforestation as the burden of paper making is lifted off trees. Currently, Patience, holds the dream of lifting the burden off the environment through paper making by building a large factory that makes paper products out of banana fiber and a market for crafts pieces from Nature’s Gift. It’s her wildest dream and yet she believes it’s very much within the realm of possibility. At the moment, what is standing between Patience and her dreams, is a room of one’s own, as famously written by Virginia Woolf. “Right now, I live with my guardians in a cramped space, there is no room to make these things and store them,” She gestures to a large concrete flower vase that she said she made from an old towel, “I can tell that I am taking up all the room at home. It would be better if I had a place to make and store my products.” Patience adds that, while people in Mbarara appreciate her products, she believes that if she had a way of getting her products to a larger market, no doubt her business would grow. Listening to Patience speak about her dreams and what could make them come alive is an affirmation to why places for artisans and creatives like Motiv exist.
At Motiv, Patience has access to an expansive space to create her crafts, store them and sell them beyond the boundaries of Mbarara on the Motiv marketplace. After activating the Mbarara Innovation Space, we look forward to supporting the dreams of young women like Patience through providing space, digital markets and a dynamic ecosystem. Patience’s voice is exuberant with the optimism that belongs to youth and a woman out to change the world, it’s already a strong foundation for grand works, she is the reason that communities like The Innovation Village exist, to make sure that Patience’s dream survives.