How the ‘5 Ps’ helped a South Sudan entrepreneur transform her business
Poni Irene, a 24-year-old mother of two, sells vegetables in the Suk Libya market in Juba. She used to sell cakes, but that dind't yield much profit. Her vegetable business took off after she attended a trade fair and training organized by the International Trade Centre (ITC). That’s how she learned the importance of the 5 Ps of marketing: Product, Price, Promotion, People and Place.
In 2015, Poni’s father died leaving her with her single mother who could not afford their daily upkeep or her school fees. She tried to keep herself in school by raising money by selling cakes.
’One day I met a woman from Munuk, who I asked if she could trust me to sell some of her cakes for her. She reluctantly agreed and we had some form of a contract. I started selling the cakes at school during break and lunch time thus most of my customers were students.’
This started to bring in some income, but not enough to keep her in school. In 2016, she worked in a restaurant which was quite far from her family. Three years later, she left the job because ’it was very difficult for me to work far away from my mother and sisters,’ she said.
Finding a new job was tough, but Poni managed to get a few odd jobs and save up to 30,000 South Sudanese pounds ($230). She decided to use that savings to re-start her cake business. But her friends advised her to instead start selling vegetables like them.
In 2022, Poni moved to Munuki and ventured into vegetable selling. That year she also attended a trade fair and training organized by ITC where she learnt the importance of the 5 Ps of marketing: Product, Price, Promotion, People and Place. The location of the business was of particular interest to Poni. After the training and experience sharing session conducted by ITC, Poni realized a huge boom in her business.
She was among 600 youth who joined the trainings, which the International Trade Centre (ITC) implemented for young people through its South Sudan Jobs Creation and Trade Development project. The aim of this project is to offer business management and entrepreneurship skills to young, grassroot entrepreneurs in the fruits and vegetable value chains in targeted areas in Central Equatoria and Western Equatoria States.
After the training, Poni now earns 85,000 SSP ($650) daily and supplies 9kg of green pepper, 1.5kg of Irish potatoes, 9kg of carrots, 10kg of onions, 9kg of pepper and 5kg of tomatoes to Sport 5 restaurant in Suk Libia-Munuki. From her earnings, she can afford to pay her brother’s school fees at the University of Uganda.
’I am able to pay and provide food for my family from this business. Thursday, Friday and Saturday are my busiest days because people will be preparing for parties and they know I always supply fresh quality tomatoes, sweet peppers, chilies, cabbages, etc. I am now supplying restaurants around town,’ she says.
Poni Irene now lives in Kator and sells vegetables in Suk Libya (Munuki) Local Market.
About the project
The International Trade Centre’s South Sudan–Jobs Creation and Trade Development project aims to increase the competitiveness of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and employment opportunities for the South Sudanese population engaged in the fruit and vegetable subsector.
The European Union-funded project contributes to addressing the value addition, competitiveness, job creation and trade development challenges of South Sudan. Specifically, the interventions of the project are expected to improve productive capacities and compliance to standards for MSMEs, increase market linkages for MSMEs and enhance employability and entrepreneurship capacity for the South Sudanese labour force, focussing on youth and women.