KAMPALA — Tycoon Regina Naluyima Mukiibi Mugongo who ran the country’s first ever funeral homes, the Uganda Funeral Services, has died.
Mrs. Mukiibi died on Tuesday, June 29, according to a close family member at Entebbe International Airport as she was being taken abroad for specialized Covid-19 treatment.
The country is experiencing the second wave of covid19 infections and in the last three days, it has recorded the highest number of deaths (144 people) since the start of the pandemic.
The huge increase in coronavirus cases has resulted in Uganda’s public hospitals reporting countless challenges as they strive to cope.
Hospitals in Kampala and neighboring districts are facing challenges including lack of beds for new patients, shortage of oxygen equipment, and personal protective equipment (PPE) for the frontline staff.
Formerly a banking assistant and an accountant with the central Bank of Uganda Mukiibi sought early retirement where she discovered a business idea to venture into funeral services management.
In 1994, Mukiibi and her brother registered the Uganda Funeral Services (UFS) and pioneered its service and operations that kicked off in 1997 across the African Great Lakes region.
Due to different cultural beliefs and practices within the region, it was a cultural shock since traditionally nobody left the responsibility to handle and prepare the dead for burial to people not from the deceased’s clan and family therefore the business was harder before it became easier.
Mukiibi was forced to take on several jobs at no cost for demonstrational purposes and as a survival tactic during which awareness for and marketing of services was done.
Soon after, the church, elite citizens, and the state joined her list of clientele, as did foreign embassies in Kampala that need to repatriate bodies of the deceased.
At the take-off stage, Mukiibi procured a permanent home within Bukoto a Kampala suburb, and today clients are constantly seen walking in and out.
It was at Salisbury College of Funeral Sciences and Embalming in London that Mukiibi undertook professional training.
Mukiibi was also a council member of the International Federation of Thanatologists Association (IFTA) and FIAT-IFTA – the world organization of funeral operators headquartered in the Netherlands.
Until, her death, she had won various international and local accolades in recognition of her outstanding service, the latest being the 2013 Phenomenal Woman of Funeral Services Trailblazer Award, which she picked up from the US-based 100 Black Women of Funeral Service, during their convention in Austin, Texas in October.
Other accolades include the Best Ugandan Innovator in the senior category for the year 2004, Best Woman Entrepreneur 2007, and Regional Entrepreneur.
She was also recognized as one of the top 50 brands when Uganda celebrated 50 years of independence in 2012.