Author: rhelmzrt

How this Ugandan entrepreneur turned a CoVID-19 solution into a money-making idea

“Don’t be scared to make mistakes. Mistakes are the most important part of growth. If you don’t make mistakes, you won’t know what needs to be improved.”

Jackie katanga
What do you do when you are faced with a challenge? It depends— if you have an enterprising spirit, you see an opportunity to create a money-making solution. As the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic increase, many entrepreneurs are creating solutions and some of these are becoming viable businesses.
Jackie Katanga is one such entrepreneur. In 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it was followed by calls to observe prevention procedures including constant handwashing with soap. For Jackie whose skin is fairly sensitive, regular handwashing resulted in extreme drying out and peeling of the skin because the soap she was using was too harsh on her hands.
Unfortunately, efforts to find gentler options did not yield results. She later realized that she was not the only one facing this challenge. Many of her friends were going through a similar situation.
This is when an idea struck!
“Make soap that, no matter how many times you washed your hands, they would remain moisturized, soft, and smooth.” Jackie’s journey into the cosmetics industry began.
Jackie shared her entrepreneurial journey with us in the following interview.
Collage: Who is Jackie Katanga?
Jackie Katanga: My name is Jackie Katanga, and I am a creative. Since 2012, I have deejayed at events, produced music, won a fashion modeling contest, a rap battle, and a scholarship to study Multimedia at Aptech Computer Education. I have taught life skills, Bible class, and even drama to primary school children. I have been to all four corners of Uganda, doing documentary photography, I have made music and music videos, and I have directed a documentary about bodabodas in Kampala. All this in 6 years. In 2018, I entered the new and exciting world of fashion design, making cloth accessories and on December 1, 2019, I accessorized an entire fashion show.
Collage: When did you start Umuti Beauty and what drove you?
Jackie Katanga: When COVID-19 hit, we were encouraged to wash our hands to prevent it from spreading. Washing my hands so many times a day dried them out they started to peel. I realized that the soap I was using was too tough on my hands. I decided that I wanted to make a soap that, no matter how many times I washed my hands, they would remain moisturized, soft, and smooth. This was the birth of Umuti Beauty.
Collage: What products or solutions are you offering?
Jackie Katanga: I have two main types of products. Products for oily skin, that solve problems such as persistent acne and products for dry skin, that solve problems of skin sensitivity and eczema. I make soap, lotion, oils, body butter, and exfoliating scrubs. I am currently working on an organic deodorant and perhaps later, a range of organic perfumes. I am dreaming, and I am dreaming big.
Collage: How is the journey so far?
Jackie Katanga: I have been getting great feedback. People send me thank you messages and tell their friends and families about the products. It is this encouragement that pushed me to get into lotions and oils and body butter. It’s quite exciting because I never thought I would be here. Before June of 2020, I would have laughed at the suggestion of making skincare products, even though I had horrible skin and no product had worked for me.
Collage: What have been some of your achievements? What have been the challenges?
Jackie Katanga: I received two offers from investors, but their terms and conditions were so unfavorable, and even though I had no capital to grow the business, I trusted that God would bring partners like College who respect the collaborative entrepreneurship process. It is exciting to see that my venture is being recognized as something worthwhile to invest in. That is a great start.
Collage: Where do you want Umuti Beauty to be in three years?
Jackie Katanga: In three years, Umuti Beauty will be a household name. Is it possible? Absolutely. I believe that when something is good, it catches on, and Umuti Beauty is that good. Of course, I am working crazy hard too.
Collage: Where can people find your products?
Jackie Katanga: If you live in Kampala and surrounding areas, you will not find the products. They will find you. We deliver to where you are. This is because of the way the products are made. We make the product in response to the client, often encouraging an appointment to figure out exactly what your specific skincare need is before making your product and sending it to you. This ensures that the product always works for you.
Collage: What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs?
Jackie Katanga: Don’t be scared to make mistakes. Mistakes are the most important part of growth. If you don’t make mistakes, you won’t know what needs to be improved.
Ask for feedback. The customer may not always be right, but at least you will know what they think of the product or service that you offer. It’s scary, but it is worth it, especially if you want to be in business for the long haul.
Ask for help. There’s someone out there looking for some way to give back. Let her help you. Mentoring, sharing a Facebook post, even making the product itself.

This story is a part of Collage’s documentation series that is showcasing Uganda’s makers and entrepreneurs. You can read more stories here. Visit our shop to see and support our work and the work of our makers.




Are you interested in learning more about Umuti Beauty and Jackie Katanga? Follow Umuti Beauty on Instagram @umutibeauty, on Facebook @umutibeauty and Twitter @jackiekatanga. You can also contact Jackie on +256784983197

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa Business. Idea. Startup Grant awards ($25,000 in Funding)

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa B.I.S (Business. Idea. Startup) Grant awards $25,000 to Africans with innovative ideas, brilliant startups and growing businesses.
Whether it’s just an idea or an established business, the programme is structured to assist you access funds.

Target Audience

Citizens from 54 member countries of the African Union.

Grant Prize

5,000 participants would be selected to receive a grant of $25,000 in cash and $10,000 in training.




Eligibility

Participants must be between the ages of 16 – 65 and should have a valid national means of identification.

Selection Criteria

Criteria used in evaluating applications and awarding grants include:

Thinking of diversifying your business? These tips are for you.

Business diversification is about growing your business by getting into markets and offering product and/or services than what you are currently offering. Many businesses have been forced to diversify due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As markets continue to shrink, businesses must think outside their normal offerings for survival.

Before the second lockdown, Violet used to run a bakery and a small laundry service on the side. When the country went into lockdown, she realized that it would be hard to continue running the bakery because raw materials were scarce. She decided to put more effort into the laundry business by adding pickup, delivery, and pressing services.

Violet’s model of diversification involved building onto an already existing service. The path you choose will depend on your circumstances and the kind of business you run. Here are some tips to consider:

1. Reflect on the value-add

What value does your new product/service bring to the consumer? Take time to assess whether your new offering is actually needed. This will determine whether you will get customers or not. One way to do this is by looking at customer feedback on your current offerings. What needs and gaps have they expressed and how can you address them? Would a new product/service respond to those needs?

2. Do your research

You need to be well informed on the kind of products/services and markets that you want to venture into. This involves finding out who your competition is, similar products already in the market, who is likely to buy your products, and what you must do to win over customers.




3. Look into the resources you need

Carefully analyze what you will need in terms of expertise, money, connections, and time to bring the product or service to market. This will help you assess whether you have the core resources to start production or service delivery. As you plan, think of what resources you are missing and where you can get them from. For example, are there local experts that you could tap to help you start?

4. Plan operations

Operations involve production, sales, and marketing, among others. It refers to everything that you will need to do to make the business work. You need to figure out how the business operations will run. If you are going to rely on existing systems, what impact will that have? Will it strain human resources? If you decide to use the team that you already have, consider briefing them and ask them to provide feedback about the proposal and how best it can work.

Like Violet advises, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”

We hope these tips will help you on your diversification journey.

We would like to hear your thoughts on business diversification. Follow us on Facebook here and on Instagram @afcollage

If you are interested in Violet’s service contact her on 0771983594 0r 0704923616.

We are hiring: business development and operations officer

Terms of Reference Business Development and Operations Officer

Status: This is a full-time position.

Location: Kampala, Uganda, with up-country travel

Level: Entry-level

Reports to: Collage Team Leader

About Collage

Collage is a hybrid enterprise that supports local creators and producers to enhance their competitiveness. Competitiveness to us means improving product quality, embracing innovative processes to reduce costs and realize efficiency, continuous learning, and business professionalism. We use three core strategies namely: driving market access through online and offline platforms where we showcase products of local creators; bespoke training initiatives and one-on-one mentoring and hand holding, and collective credit resources (through clusters).

We started full operations in January 2019 and have been intentionally seeking out young makers who are often unable to raise enough capital to rent traditional shops. Another key demographic that we target is stay at home moms who are interested in earning a side income to complement their families’.

Our Big Picture

We want to see a Uganda where the full potential of local producers and creators is fully harnessed towards economic transformation.

Our Intervention:

  • Builds their capacity to produce products or services that are competitive.
  • Increases their access to market and changes the narrative around locally made products.
  • Avails shared learning opportunities. Producers and creators are able to learn from each other through clusters. Also, through their clusters, they can benefit from the advantages that come with collective purchase of raw materials, collective bargaining and they are more attractive to creditors.
  • Influences policy reform by ensuring that the voices of local producers and creators is heard.
  • Provides a pathway to formalization of businesses.
  • Plugs the small people into the global economy through online marketing platforms.

Role Summary

The Business Development Associate will work closely with the Team Leader to consolidate gains made in:

  • Producer recruitment and engagement
  • Reseller recruitment
  • Building Collage operational systems and processes
  • Building the company’s brand and market base

Key Responsibilities

1. Business Development

  • Expanding existing revenue streams including through:
  • The implementation of the reseller strategy
  • Building a customer base for our marketing, branding and training programme
  • Streamlining our micro-loans programme
  • Supporting direct sales through offline and online promotion
  • Conduct periodic market research to identify demand gaps for business products and services and keep up to date with business development practices and industry trends.
  • Sourcing new local and international revenue streams, including through subscribing to popular offline and online selling platforms and through cultivating of corporate partnerships and partnerships with small-scale sellers.
  • Developing grant proposals and participating in relevant entrepreneurship competitions. The Associate will develop a calendar of grants, training programmes, accelerators, and competitions and will work with the rest of the team to develop winning concepts.

2. Operations

  • Support the Team Leader to finalize and implement the Collage 2021/23 strategy. The strategy is the overarching framework and will determine business direction until 2023.
  • Work closely with the sales and operations coordinator to streamline operations including coordination of producers.
  • Develop monthly plans and subsequent financial and narrative reports on company progress in as far as working towards set monthly targets.
  • Work with the Team Leader to develop and institutionalize business processes aimed at ensuring effectiveness and efficiency.
  • Be a Collage Ambassador by ensuring effective representation at relevant platforms and through sharing Collage work online and offline.
  • Support the capacity development of team members in new business development and operations.
  • Perform any other relevant duties assigned by the Team Leader.

Skills and Competencies

  • A bachelors degree in business administration and management, marketing, economics or related field.
  • A diploma in the afore mentioned fields with up to three years’ relevant experience is also acceptable.
  • At least a year of professional experience in areas relating to marketing, SME business development or experience working in a StartUp.
  • Excellent computer skills including Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel, and use of social media platforms.
  • Ability to write and communicate clearly and analytically with excellent spoken and written English.
  • Excellent organizational skills with the ability to work under pressure, with minimum supervision.
  • A great team player that is open to working in a multi-cultural setting.

To Apply

Applications should be sent via e-mail to rhelmzrt@gmail.com with Business Development and Operations Officer as the subject.

Deadline: 18th June 2020

IT Professional Turned Carpenter on Why We Should Never Give Up on Our Dreams

For many young people, a career in Information Technology (IT) would be a dream come true. Not for Herbert Lwanga. From a young age, he loved to draw and curve things. But he did not get a chance to explore his artistic talents until much later in life. One of the reasons: family expectations.

“My guardians wanted a degree in something straightforward. I went on and acquired a diploma in information systems and a degree in development economics,” Herbert said.

With prior experience in data clerking, Herbert went on to work for several information technology firms both in Uganda and Rwanda for several years. But, he knew that his passion was elsewhere— in art.

He said, “I missed curving and sculpturing. Whenever I got a chance, I would visit my cousin who ran a furniture mart and do a bit of woodwork. I would curve a few things.”

It is this love for art that pushed him to get a degree in industrial later and to co-found Latimate Furniture with his cousin.

Since 2015 when it was founded, Latimate Furniture has taken on residential projects, restaurants, and hotels.

Latimate Furniture at work.

On doing carpentry differently

Like most trades, carpentry is viewed by some in society as a last resort. Herbert explained, “People think this is something you get into when you have failed at all else, which is wrong. Carpentry is a profession but carpenters must work hard in order to command the respect that other professions command.”

Herbert noted that one way or commanding respect is by bringing quality products to the market. Quality products require that carpenters do not take shortcuts that can compromise the quality of the product. They should also endeavor to use good raw materials. This will also help carpenters to compete favorably with imported products.

Herbert’s commitment to quality has opened many doors.

“I have made many connections which I will soon use to take my products beyond Uganda. Also, I make a comfortable living. Most importantly, I am able to work on something I really love.”

Lessons that he has learnt

Herbert’s most important lesson is that “if you decide to go into business do it with your whole heart and if you are not ready to do that, do not start.”

“Also you must dedicate time to your business. This will help you to research and to study market trends and what others in the same business are doing differently.” Herbert advised.

“Importantly, you must leverage internet to grow your sales. Your survival will depend on it.”

Herbert Lwanga is one of over 35 Ugandan makers supported by Collage to bring their products to the market. One of his beautiful pieces can be bought here and here. Learn more about what Collage and send us a message on 0782960558 for more information.

2021 Prospects: How We Are Forging Ahead Amidst the COVID-19 Turbulence

If there is anything that 2020 has taught us, it is that businesses must always be willing to reinvent themselves. The disruptions caused by COVID-19 have been enormous, more so on micro and small business that typically run on small budgets. We have seen the market for non-essential items shrink as many potential consumers lost jobs, took pay-cuts, and generally became more cautious about what they spent their money on. For most, basic needs took precedence.

But there is a silver lining. For starters, we have been challenged to rethink our businesses models in ways that we had never imagined possible. At Collage, we have had to migrate our training programme to Zoom-based classes. Zoom-classes, whereas they have their own shortfalls, they are capable of making training more affordable and content can be leveraged across digital platforms.

Despite all the 2020 gloom, we continued mentoring and handholding makers—driving process and product innovations. Targeted marketing strategies helped us to double our sales and to strengthen our brand visibility. We sold more than 1600 products, had more than 50 entrepreneurs benefit from our training and mentoring activities and kickstarted our reseller program which will see us expand the market reach of our products whilst boosting livelihoods for re-sellers and their families.

We recognize that there is more that we need to do to be able to realize the impact that we seek. For example, we must expand the reach of our credit facilities, especially now when micro and small businesses are fighting hard to bounce back. We need to bring on board more makers, and for the existing ones, we must continue to support them to improve their production processes and offerings. We are hopeful that through our 2021-2023 strategy, we will be able to lay a firm foundation that will enable us to address some of these gaps.

Our Ambitious Goals for 2021

The focus of our 2021-2023 strategy is to increase the company’s value through sustainable strategies that drive social impact as well as profitability. Through this period including 2021, we will work to realize three goals:

1. Strengthen internal systems/structures and the capacity of our team to deliver efficient service. This will include hiring one additional full-time staff, outsourcing book keeping functions and ensuring that our licenses and other legal paperwork are in order.

2. Expand sales through our innovative reseller program and further diversification of our product and service offerings. To realize this we will recruit, train and empower resellers with a range of tools to help them activate and drive demand for our products. We will also look into bringing new products to market through collaboration with our makers. We will leverage our training and mentorship program to design innovative and high-impact learning experiences. We recently started offering branding services to our makers, we hope to reach more makers with this service soon.

3. Grow our brand visibility and presence through our website and social media channels. For us to compete effectively, we must invest in brand visibility and presence. This will mean organizing and participating in activities that bring us closer to our potential customers. Importantly, it will be necessary to establish feedback loops to help us deliver better and efficient service.

We require a significant amount of resources to deliver on these goals and will need the support of our customers, makers, partners and shareholders, among others, to get to where we want to go.

Your support has already gotten us so far— it has enabled us to bounce back stronger and better. For this, we are eternally grateful.

We hope that 2021 brings you peace, joy and fulfilment.

Much love from all of us at Collage,

Happy New Year!

Collage Go Digital Training Series: Learn How To Sell Online

Presentation from the Selling Online Training held on the 21st Nov 2020.

“The Training was really useful, well thought out and put together.” One of the participants.

“Thank you so much for the training. I can’t wait for the next class.”

One of the participants.

Interested in signing up for upcoming trainings, send us an email at rhelmzrt@gmail.com or a WhatsApp message on +256782960558

Download the presentation

Business Survival In A COVID-19 Era: This Restaurant Owner Changed Her Business Model To Remain Relevant

We first interacted with Maria Assumpta in April 2020. She was inquiring about interior décor products for her restaurant that she hoped to open in May. The excitement in her voice was infectious.

Maria Assumpta

 

We took her through a series of options and after a long chat, it was clear that she was smitten with the baskets. She informed us that she would get back to us in a week’s time to deposit the order.

A week later, there were no signs that the lockdown would be lifted. It was also clear that even after the lockdown, it would take a while before things got back to normal.

This was a big blow to Assumpta who had “already identified and paid for premises for her restaurant, bought equipment and even assembled a team of employees to support her.”

She explained, “We had to deal with a lot of spoilage which resulted into losses. We were practically making losses before we even started. It was a crushing time, not just for me but for the other people that were involved in the project.”

Assumpta was aware that she needed to come up with a solution and fast. A week into the thinking, an idea occurred to her. She realized that she could do the cooking out of her home, advertise using social media networks, and deliver to customers wherever they were in the city.

“I started advertising in my WhatsApp group and to my contacts and before I knew it, orders started trickling in,” Assumpta noted.

Re-imagining Businesses

Assumpta is one of many entrepreneurs who have had to rethink their business models to match the changing times. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a lot of uncertainties. This is compounded by the fact that there is no near end to its spread, at least not until both a cure and a vaccine are discovered. This, therefore, means that entrepreneurs are going to have to innovate around the harsh realities that are coming if not already here.

Entrepreneurs may need to reimagine the kind of services and products that they offer. With limited incomes, families and individuals may have to cut back expenses, especially the non-essentials. It is therefore important that whatever you are offering contributes some kind of value.

In Assumpta’s case, she makes it possible for her customers to get great meals within the comfort of their homes.

How are you innovating during COVID-19? Share with us your hustle and we will spotlight it on our social media pages.

A fruit stall in a local market

Tips for Re-opening Your Small Business Post Lockdown

With the lockdown being partially lifted in different sectors, it is best to say that we can see a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel. This does not mean that everything is going to return to normal in a few weeks or months. It however gives us hope that things are going to get better.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to heavy disruption for businesses and small businesses have taken a hard hit. Many small business owners are uncertain of what the future holds. To be fair, everyone is.

As a young business supporting small and micro enterprises, we share some of the apprehension. To help us prepare for reopening, we have interacted with several businesses that have shared some tips. Here are some of the favorites that we think may help you to prepare for reopening. 

  1. Leverage the Internet

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, we organized a training on how businesses can use the internet to grow. Back then, we knew that the internet was important but we did not realize that our very survival depended on leveraging it to increase sales, improve customer relations, and enhance our brand visibility.

How to leverage the internet: Cultivate a presence on social networking platforms. Set up business pages and join groups. You can use these platforms to keep your customers updated and to attract other potential customers. It doesn’t have to be perfect at the start and we can assure you that you can have everything figured out. All we can say is that once you start, you will learn a lot, and hopefully, you will use all those lessons to improve.

  1. Assess your finances

The hard truth is that the future is uncertain. Therefore, small businesses may need to re-evaluate their businesses and carefully think about how they will remain afloat. Take a good look at your finances, especially your cashflow. The ideal situation should be that you should be earning more than you are spending. For businesses that are just starting out and have not broken even, this may be near to impossible.

What to do: Cut out avoidable expenditures. This may not be the right time to buy new fancy bulbs for your salon. Make sure that you are spending only on things that the business requires to run. If you have been walking to walk during the lockdown, you may want to continue doing so as this will help you to put some money away; money that you can spend on the important stuff.

  1. Be creative

We have focused too much on the disruption that the COVID-19 pandemic that we have closed our eyes and ears to new opportunities for small businesses to be innovative and reimagine their businesses. This is a time for you to think out of the box. You will need to be creative as far as marketing, delivery, sales, customer relations, even bringing new products to market.

What to do: Map the opportunities that have opened up in your sector. How can benefit from them? Think of what changes you need to make in your business model to be able to fit into the times. These are not normal times and you need to think business unusual.

  1. Promote Safety

As you reopen, you need to think of your safety, the safety of your employees and your customers. Businesses are being encouraged to for instance install handwashing facilities and signs to encourage social distancing. Ensure that all your employees have masks and where possible gloves. Investing in safety is what we all need to do if we want our recovery to be fast.

  1. Finally: Do not lose hope

It is ok to worry, we all are worried. But, do not let worry consume you. You need to keep your positivity up. You need to look out for the small rays of light in the darkness. Talk to friends or mentors and find a community of like-minded entrepreneurs to share your story.

If you would like to talk to us, simply send us a WhatsApp message on 0782960558. We got you.

 

If You Fail Today, Try Again Tomorrow And Do Not Stop Until You Break Through: One Entrepreneur’s Story Of Endurance And Perseverance

It is one thing to have a great business idea, it is another to transform it into a sustainable business. Even successful entrepreneurs admit that it is not easy translating an idea into a thriving business. This is because building a successful business requires a lot more than a good idea. Foundational requirements include having a product or service that is competitive, putting together a skilled team, capital, having a clear plan, and executing it, the list is quite long.

Like many young entrepreneurs, when Paul Mugisha started his first business, all he had was what he thought was a brilliant idea and a bit of money to buy raw materials for his first product—an initialed wrist-band made out of plastic beads. Relying on his craft-making skills, he soon expanded his customer base and product range to include sophisticated necklaces and earrings. Within just a few months, the business was booming, but it was not too long before the slump came—after all, one can only buy so many custom necklaces.

This would be the first of several business failures. But with each failure, came important lessons, lessons that Paul would later use to start and grow his current business.

Unlike many of us that quit when things do not work out, Paul knew that his only option was to keep trying until something worked out.

“I had my share of failures. I tried several business ideas that did not work out. Obviously, I was discouraged, but I also learned a lot. And at the back of my head, I knew that if I persevered, I would make it someday.” Paul Said.

Rising from the Ashes

In 2014, with a new business idea, Paul decided to start a company dealing in leather products with a focus on sandals.  His vision was a leading company producing high-quality and affordable shoes.

Paul got the idea after hearing friends express disappointment at the quality and price of leather sandals on the market. He realized that this was a gap that he could fill. He figured that if he started a business that met a need, his chances of success were much higher. He decided to utilize the shoe-making skills he had acquired in 2011 to address the need for quality footwear.

Then a student at University, Paul’s livelihood depended on the success of the company. He was well aware that catering to all his school and basic needs were tied to how much he would be able to produce and sell. The only option was to focus, work hard, and ensure that the business succeeded.

Paul’s efforts paid off. Today, he has sold thousands of products across the country, upgraded his skills by going for further training in Kenya, and trained a team that has made it possible to expand production. When asked about how he was able to pull this off, Paul explained that “it was persistence and endurance that made this possible. I had to be committed and at the same time dynamic. My field is influenced by trends and so, I have to be willing to embrace emerging trends, learn fast, and apply.”

Paul’s dream is for the company to purchase a plot and set up premises for the workshop, to increase production capacity and to be able to employ not less than 15 highly skilled artisans.

Working with Collage

Paul is one of over thirty entrepreneurs that are currently being supported by Collage to improve their business operations.

Through Collage, he has been able to upscale production services.

Collage has helped us to broaden our market reach and has provided extensive advisory services,” Paul said.

To the young entrepreneurs, Paul encourages “endurance and perseverance and desire for growth and improvement. If you fail today, try again tomorrow, and do not stop until you breakthrough.”

You can shop for Paul’s products here.

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