Suzan Mathew Zuno never expected to become one of the many small-sized businesses which have popped up in Western Equatoria State.
Known as Mama Joshua, she starts everyday at six in the morning, walking to the town centre to prepare a batch of tea for her daily customers. She starts early to catch all the travellers and business people who take tea early in the morning.
She now employs two assistants and says she has the best tasting spiced tea in Yambio, attracting up to 180 customers to her stand every day.
Suzan has sold tea for more than 12 years and says she earns enough to easily cover the cost of bringing up five children alone. “I have been able to pay fees for my first two children at secondary school,” she says, adding that her second child would start university soon.
Her tea business has paid for three plots of land and she has built a three-bedroom house on one of them.
Suzan lost her husband in 2001 and initially found it hard to look after her children. “It was like everything ended after my husband’s death but I took it upon myself to start again,” Suzan says.
In the beginning her only customers were men, but now a few women queue at her stand. When she started out she made just SSP 17 (US$ 6) per day but today she makes up to SSP 180. Her customers include corporate clients and NGO workers as well as informal labourers, a fact she attributes to her hygiene.
“I ensure all tea glasses are washed properly and are kept dried to avoid germs and inspire confidence in the clients that I have built for over a decade in the business,” she says.