After graduating from Makerere University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, Steven Oketa discovered that he has a talent in painting.
Following years of hopping around without finding a job, Oketa decided to try out his painting skills after his elder brother James encouraged him.
Together with James, who was the brain behind his painting job, they mobilized Ush7200 to try out painting. He started by buying materials like acrylic paint, brushes, wood paper, rages and vanish.
With years of try and error, Oketa finally became a stand out painter where now he earns between Ush500,000 to Ush1 million a month.
“Life can tend to be stressing in the city when you are not employed or when you don’t have a business to run. During childhood, I liked painting and I did it as a hobby though, at high school, I didn’t do it all that much because I was busy with studies,” says Oketa.
Oketa notes that when he gets support from wellwishers, his dream is to construct a very big art gallery where people can easily find him. He also intends to formally register his art shop, where he will be working legitimately and can easily acquire other services like bank loans.
He says that his art communicates visual communications and sends exemplary messages.
“Being social, I have inspired very many youths to join the painting world,” adds Oketa.
He says he sells his art mostly through social media like Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp and Instagram, where customers inquire directly from the platforms. He also displays a few at his home verandah for passersby.
Oketa though finds it difficult to run a business where its established market is not determined. He says one has to move to through networks, buy materials and also bargains a lot with customers in order to be paid well.
“My biggest challenge is finance, which has always affected the constant flow of income. If I had the finance I would surely be running one of the biggest gallery shops in Uganda,” says Oketa.
Oketa dreams of starting one of the biggest art galleries in Uganda and working on art pieces that send clear messages to communities worldwide.
“Young people should stop being in their comfort zones, and wake up to chase their dreams knowing that you don’t have to have any huge amount of money to grow your business.” He said
He adds that God created everyone as an artist but the degree of talent is the only one that matters. “If you can’t make a painting you can weave if you can’t weave you can do a sculpture or anything,” he stresses.
He recalls his best painting as that of Uganda’s Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, where he did a portrait that looks exactly like him.
BY GEORGE PIWANG