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

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