As a Covid-19 surge overwhelmed Uganda earlier this year, Livingstone Musaala, who was forced to quit his teaching job following school closures, turned to coffin-making to pay the bills and help his community.
But few welcomed his initiative at first. Family members criticised him for capitalising on a pandemic-fuelled boom in his densely-populated hometown of Bugobi, 140 kilometres (90 miles) east of Kampala.
“Of all the business ideas you start selling coffins as if you wish people death?” Musaala recounted a relative asking him.
But the former mathematics teacher realised that he could make and sell coffins for a lot less than the exorbitant prices charged by other carpenters after demand surged due to Covid-19 deaths.
“It was a tough decision but people now appreciate it,” the 28-year-old told AFP, with Bugobi residents no longer compelled to travel long distances to find affordable coffins.
“At the height of the pandemic, we did brisk business, we sold between four to 10 coffins daily,” he said, earning between 150,000 to 450,000 shillings ($42 to $125) per coffin.