Opportunities in the used-automotive industry that are perfect for young people

by Enoth Mbeine
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Until you interface with the dynamics of the used-automotive business, you will not imagine the immense work opportunities that accrue along the value chain. The used car business in Uganda has been growing steadily over the years. Used cars are an increasing popular choice among consumers because of their affordability and reliability. 

One of these used-automotive businesses that have exposed me to these dynamics that young people can harness is Ashley Motors Ltd, located in Nalukolongo, Ndeba-Masaka Road. It’s amazing to see how vibrant this sector is and learn of these opportunities.

This used-car sector heavily depends on vehicle mechanic services. During the process of buying and selling, car mechanic services are needed e.g. removing damaged parts and doing repairs. Mechanics services here can include wheel alignment, fixing air-conditioning, diagnostics, electrical faults, calibration etc.  

Panel technician services are also well-sought after. This involves repairing and replacing damaged panels due to scratches or dents. It usually involves riveting and bonding panels, welding or soldering, cutting, heating and sanding. 

Spray paint services also form an integral part of this value chain. This involves preparing cars for painting. A paint technician will mix paint using scales and a computer, apply a high volume, low pressure spray gun for a perfect finish. 

In the used-car business, it is a key requirement to have a “Vehicle Damage Assessor”. This is the first person that looks at the vehicle that is brought for sale to assess the extent of damage or non-related damage e.g. the condition of the engine. This person usually has a mechanical background, and the assessment includes estimated timeline of vehicle repair, costs and parts required. 

Auto upholstery services are another key opportunity especially when there is a need to replace old with new. It is usually important to aim at using of high quality fabric to give the car a new look. 

Other non-technical opportunities include restaurant/food business at the car-bond, car-washing services, sale of spares, sale of car batteries, car battery repair and services, URA agency vehicle transfer services and selling (brokering). Car brokers play a vital role by sourcing and negotiating car deals. They usually do this over the phone or face-to-face. Use of social media has also lately become a popular channel e.g. Tiktok, Whatsapp, Youtube, Facebook, Instagram and X). The broker’s role requires being a good negotiator to successfully close a sale and are usually paid a commission. 

If key industry players are identified, and deliberate interventions made to streamline, structure and organize, this industry can help pull and crowd many young people, as it has great potential for quick transition rates and high absorption potential, especially for those youth that have acquired vocational training skills and those in the informal sector. 

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