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Friday, May 28, 2010

Takeaway Restaurant, Equator Shops, and Crocodile Farm


Today we had the chance to return to the Takeaway Restaurant during our journey back from Mbarara, and yet again it was a delicious pit-stop along the way. We had the choice between chicken or talapia, the whole fish, head and all, and everything was delicious. This restaurant is one of the last along the route before entering another city, so it is a great place to snag a bite before getting back on the road. I would estimate the Takeaway to seat approximately 75 customers, which I would think it could easily occupy.
We stopped at the Equator Shops on our way to Mbarara, but just had to return on the trek back to accumulate even more souvenirs. Everyone seemed to enjoy standing in both hemispheres, and of course it was the perfect photo-op for our group on this trip. Shops were all bunched together along the road, about the length of a city block, along both sides, and this was the perfect test for us to try our hand at bargaining. The skill is almost expected in the area, but it was shocking in some cases at how much the seller is willing to drop the price to make a sale, but it just goes to show, they need us to make a living.
The Crocodile Farm was a very interesting place, and a little intimidating I must say. When we first walked up we came upon a storage house for the younger crocs, which then turned into the juvenile crocs, those under 5 years of age. It is at this age when the animals are then used for meat and making products such as bags, shoes, and belts. Our tour guide would not give an approximate asking price for any of the items, but from what we gathered they sell to buyers in Korea who then turn around and sell again for profit. Because the farm does not have many expenses, it must do pretty well in terms of income, which is great hope for small businesses in Uganda.
Small businesses like these all seem to do pretty well in retrospect, but I really feel that they could make so much more profit by making a few changes. First of all, these places could use more advertising. Businesses like these need to get the word out that they exist, especially to tourists like us, otherwise they will never get the foot traffic needed for a large income. Tourist attractions are huge, so maybe more of that mentality at these places could turn mild success into major growth. Now, tourism doesn't always have a positive effect in all countries, but it could be the thing needed to stimulate this country financially. Small businesses are a big thing in Uganda, and that can be used to their advantage if they are operated in such a way that can impact the country in a positive manner. In the long run this could help the economy of Uganda, which in turn could truly effect the rest of the world.

What do you think could be done to promote small businesses such as these? Do you think an increased amount of tourism would have a positve or negative effect on the country?


  1. I think and increased amount of tourism to sites like the crocodile farm would be detrimental to tourism here ini Uganda. In the US, I'm sure such an establishment would be a tourist magnet. People would pay a tone to see "man-eating crocs" up close, and I got the feeling this was what I was in for upon approaching the gate with signs warning against being eaten by the crocs.
    However, the uncut grass, unkept tour guide, and pile of partially dead baby chickens, and 10'X10' concrete enclosures filled with hundreds of baby crocs in putrid water protrayed a completely different story.
    I was sickened by the pile of chicks with most dead but some live ones atop the pile cheeping. The keeping of the small crocs used for slaughter and sale looked inhumane. Furthermore, there were only 4 old, large man-eating crocs--not very exciting. Additionally, the enclosures to see them were not very safe for tourists; somebody could easiy fall over the wall into the enclosure. Basically, I think bringing tourists into this establishment would be terrible for the face of Uganda's tourism.

  2. I enjoyed my time spent at the equator shops. I believe that tourism would be a great addition to increase sustainability in Uganda. I was personally thanked by a Ugandan for heavily supporting the small business institutions and Uganda's economy. Although, I doubt my small contribution made that big of difference, but with more advertising and marketing strategies, I definitely think (economically) Uganda will positively react from these efforts.

  3. I agree with Emily about the tourisst aspect of the croc farm. It was not very appealing. It had mostly the effect of grossing out visitors and making everyone feel sorry for both the chicks and crocs. I think the business part of the croc farm could improve greatly with some changes though. They don't seem to have any expenses, so I'm sure they make great revenue off the crocs. I think this could really expand though if they were to stock their own chickens. The crocs will be bigger and grow faster if they eat more, and they're going to eat more if they are fed live chicks. These are prey animals, so a dead chicken isn't going to be that appealing to them. The business would make more money if they had larger crocs, and therefore more skin and meat to sell for each. I think a chicken farm in addition to the croc farm would be fairly cheap and sustainable.

  4. The thing that surprised me the most is that there is little competition in this touristy area. I can't believe that we didn't see any other good take away restaurants near by and that the equator shops barely have to advertise. In the U.S. there would have been huge billboards for miles before the equator shops. They would have told what shops were there, how far away it is, and why you should stop. We saw no advertising before we got there. This seemed normal for Uganda, but if they really want to improve their tourist attraction, some extra effort like this would probably go a long way! The slow service at the restaurant makes me want to open a competing take-away nearby and show what true speed and efficiency would look like. If people provided better competition, other places would have no choice but to improve their own business. Sounds sustainable to me!