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Opportunity: US Mission Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (Get Training, Mentorship, Seed Funding)

Background

In 2019, the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) established the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE).  AWE provides women entrepreneurs with the skills, resources, and networks needed to start and scale successful businesses.  Through AWE, women entrepreneurs participate in a facilitated entrepreneurship program supplemented with localized content. The program provides networking and mentorship opportunities with successful business owners teaching women to create their own business plans and enabling them to understand how to raise funds for business.

Eligibility

  • You are from Gulu, Kampala, Mbarara or Jinja.
  • You are in agribusiness, small scale manufacturing, technology or creatives or tourism
  • You have a unique or impactful business in the community
Join the AWE Uganda program and become a part of a global network of Entrepreneurs in over 56 countries, and take your business to the next level
NOTE: This program lasts 6 months so Do Not Apply if you are not sure that you will be able to complete it. 
Deadline for application: 2nd August 2022. 
Submit your application using this link.

About our work

Collage focuses on promoting and nurturing Uganda’s makers working with wood, food, leather, fabric and ceramics. Visit our shop to support our work here.

5 strategies to help small businesses preserve cash flow during an economic downturn

This article is a part of our Surviving the economic downturn: tips for small businesses.

In the article, we share five strategies that you can use to preserve your cash flow.

  1. Limit expenditure on new product and service development

What product or service is doing really well and has the capacity to continue making you money? This is what you need to focus on. This is not the time to be pumping money into a new product or service whose return on investment you are not certain of. Your focus should be on promoting products and services that you know will do well.

  1. Be creative with your marketing budget

In another article, we noted that an economic downturn is not the time to cut back your marketing. However, it is a time to be creative with how you market so your marketing budget can take you further. Going digital with your marketing is one way of ensuring that you stay on top of your customers minds. Increase your presence by regularly checking in with your customers, follow up with potential customers, and create offers that are irresistible. But do not just market, also be genuinely interested in your customers. Every one is having a hard time and letting them know that you are standing by them might win you more loyal customers.

  1. Plan your finances

Your profit margins are likely to reduce due to the economic downturn. It is therefore important to carefully plan your finances. Cut back on non-essential spending and where possible, source for cheaper inputs that do not compromise your quality, and where possible, negotiate for discounts.

  1. Look for financial assistance

Research and apply for grants to help cushion your cash flow.  If grants are not available, look into cheap credit. When looking into loans be careful that you do not sign up for a product that you cannot afford. This is the time to consider soft loans from businesses and family.

  1. Adjust to the new reality

This is the time to reflect deeply on your business process, identify what works and what does not. Identify strategies to realize efficiency. For instance, consider bringing in a service provider for non-core processes that your team is struggling with. Reserve your team’s time for tasks that deliver the highest returns on investment.

Share with us your experiences. What has worked for you?

About our work

Collage focuses on promoting and nurturing Uganda’s makers working with wood, food, leather, fabric and ceramics. Visit our shop to support our work here.

5 tips for marketing in an economic downturn

Businesses are generally experiencing increased costs of doing business mainly pushed by rising fuel costs. To make matters worse, customers are not spending us much as they used to and a higher cost of living means they might further cut expenditure.

But, it is no time to cut back spending on marketing. As a small business, you should do more marketing.

Here are five tips to help you market better:

  1. Market to existing customers: Research shows that it is cheaper and easier. Keep in touch with them by thanking them, giving them exclusive offers and requesting them to recommend you to other potential customers.
  2. Clean up your brand: This is the time for you to invest in organising your social media pages. This means clearer pictures and well written descriptions for your products. Get yourself a business name so people can take you seriously. Remember, you have a lot of competition and you need to stand out.
  3. Change your offer: Think about whether your offering is still relevant and make changes accordingly. Focus on changing up your offerings to better meet the needs of your customers.
  4. Listen to your customers: Give your customers opportunities to give you feedback on where you need to improve. This will demonstrate that you are committed to giving them your best and that you care about their experience. This is a key step in building customer loyalty.
  5. Evaluate your marketing: Evaluate on a weekly basis whether you are getting the results you want. Marketing is expensive both in terms of money and time. Therefore, you want to know if the strategies you are using work. Therefore, it is important that before you make the investment, you are clear on the results you want to see.

Share with us your experiences. What has worked for you?

 

About our work

Collage focuses on promoting and nurturing Uganda’s makers working with wood, food, leather, fabric and ceramics. Visit our shop to support our work here.

HerMeNow Accelerator Program 2022 For Women-led Social Enterprises (Funding, Training, Networks)

Background

Join the HerMeNow Accelerator program to grow your social enterprise and increase your impact. 

Designed for women-led social enterprises focusing on building impactful solutions in culture, mindset, and education, this program is almost entirely remote and online and so accessible to companies across MENA + Africa (including MENA).

The programme will help grow your business through a three-month program driven by Bloom’s project-based learning methodology and world-class support.

Eligibility

Social Enterprises that are past the product/market fit stage and that:

  • Already generate revenues or have considerable user and/or product traction
  • Are planning to expand their teams
  • Are economically viable in the long term
  • Are responsible, inclusive, and social enterprises
  • Are based in MENA + Africa (including Armenia)

Selected Teams Get:

  • Funding to support an essential aspect of the business could improve growth and sustainability.
  • Each enterprise will get a 2,000$ grant to support the enterprise’s needs and potential impact.
  • Training, mentorship, and other support during the three-month accelerator program.
  • Lifetime access to Bloom’s resources and HerMeNow’s network of entrepreneurs, including mentors, investors, alumni, and staff
  • Demo day exposure and other investor connections

How to apply

Apply for this opportunity by following this link https://www.hermenow.com/ 

 

About our work

Collage focuses on promoting and nurturing Uganda’s makers working with wood, food, leather, fabric and ceramics. Visit our shop to support our work here.

Giving Joy Grants to Strengthen & Inspire Women’s Entrepreneurship Worldwide

Deadline: 30-Jun-22

Applications are now open for the Giving Joy Grants to strengthen & inspire women’s entrepreneurship worldwide.

Through its micro-grants and mentorship program, Giving Joy helps women establish or improve their businesses and initiatives—for their benefit and the benefit of their communities.

Funding Information

Grants will range from US$250 to US$500 and are awarded in installments upon completion of specific deliverables. The award amount will be determined by Giving Joy based on proposed activities and availability of funding.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Women ages 18 and up.
  • You can use the grant to start a new business, or expand your existing business. You can also use the grant to start or expand a nonprofit, non-governmental organization (NGO), charity, or propose a specific activity or project you would like to implement.
  • You can apply for a grant from any country or state or territory in the world.
  • You can propose activities in any field, trade, occupation, or craft. However, your business/organization/idea must focus on women, girls and/or families. And all activities must be LEGAL!
  • The grant period is one year.




What is important to emphasize in the grant application?

  • Make sure you fill out ALL fields of the online application form. An incomplete application will not be considered.
  • Your proposed grant activities MUST have a social benefit to your community and MUST go beyond financial aspects of your business. The more social impact you can illustrate through your idea – the better and the greater your chances of winning the grant.
  • They will NOT support activities related to the purchase of merchandise, stock, advertisements, or marketing.
  • Be as specific as possible, particularly regarding how you will use the grant funds. For example, if you plan on using the grant for a community event, a training, scholarships, etc. please include a detailed list of the activity you will develop including estimated costs, what the event will include, who is the target audience, and how the event will impact women, girls, and families.

For more information, visit the official website here.



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.

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