IN THE NEWS | Hatangijwe ubukangurambaga buzashimirwamo ibigo bito byagaragaje umuhate mu kwigobotora ingaruka za Covid-19

Hatangijwe ubukangurambaga buzashimirwamo ibigo bito byagaragaje umuhate mu kwigobotora ingaruka za Covid-19

Bizakorwa binyuze mu rubuga SME Response Clinic rwatangijwe n’urugaga rw’abikorera mu Rwanda (PSF) ku bufatanye n’Ikigo cy’igihugu giharanira ko serivisi z’imari zigera kuri bose, Access to Finance Rwanda (AFR), hagamijwe kugeza amakuru ya ngombwa ku bari mu bucuruzi mu guhangana n’ingaruka za Covid-19.

Urwo rubuga rukusanyirizwaho amakuru n’ubujyanama ku icungamari, imisoro, imikoranire na banki n’aho abari mu bucuruzi bakura ibishoro muri iki gihe cya Covid-19.

Ubukangurambaga bwa ‘Twiteze Imbere’ buzamara ibyumweru bitatu, bukubiyemo gusangira amakuru y’uburyo ibigo by’ubucuruzi bito n’ibiciriritse byabashije guhangana n’ibihe bikomeye by’icyorezo cyugarije Isi. Hazanashishikarizwa ba rwiyemezamirimo na ba nyir’ibigo by’ubucuruzi bitandukanye kwitabira gahunda za SME Response Clinic, ndetse ibizagaragaza ubudasa bihabwe ishimwe.

Icyo gikorwa kizaterwa inkunga na Access to Finance Rwanda, ConsumerCentriX, Urugaga rw’Abikorera mu Rwanda (PSF), Ishyirahamwe ry’Ibigo by’Imari Iciriritse Bikorera mu Rwanda (AMIR), Ikigo Nyafurika Kigamije Guteza Imbere Imiyoborere (AMI), New Faces New Voices Rwanda, n’Ishyirahamwe ry’Amabanki mu Rwanda.


African Women Rising Initiative

African Women Rising Initiative

Women entrepreneurs in Sub-Saharan Africa face a myriad of challenges in operating and growing their businesses. The challenges begin early, as women in the region often have lower secondary education levels and less professional experience in the formal sector. When starting a business, women are less likely to have a mentor or role model and often have a greater need to access a capacity building, supportive networks, and market information than their male counterparts.

As it stands today, financial services in the region are generally not designed to be gender inclusive. Most financial intermediaries (FIs) require fixed collateral to secure a business loan. This requirement presents an immediate barrier to women entrepreneurs as laws and social norms in many Sub-Saharan markets restrict women’s rights to own property. As a result, many women struggle to grow their businesses because they cannot meet the collateral requirements.

In cooperation with the International Project Consult (IPC) and the African Management Institute (AMI), ConsumerCentriX was selected by the European Investment Bank (EIB) to support the African Women Rising Initiative (AWRI)*. This will be achieved by focusing on the demand side by empowering women entrepreneurs through capacity building, mentoring, and networking activities and on the supply side by supporting the FIs in designing, establishing, and actively promoting financial services better tailored to women entrepreneurs’ needs.

As part of the technical advisory work, the Consortium will ensure that partner FIs build their capacity to conduct market research and develop business cases to design, market, and evaluate gender-inclusive solutions. Simultaneously, the Consortium will increase FIs’ ability to provide meaningful training and mentoring opportunities to women entrepreneurs.

 

Phase 1 June 2020-February 2021:

The Consortium conducted a mapping exercise of all countries in Sub-Saharan Africa to understand the baseline of women’s financial and economic inclusion, opportunities, and entrepreneurial activities in the region.  Based on an overall conducive environment and gaps in women’s financial inclusion and entrepreneurship, the Consortium recommended countries for project implementation. These countries have varying percentages of formal small- and medium-enterprises (SMEs) that are women-led or -owned and a strong potential for more with existing conducive regulatory and social environments and/or the opportunity to leverage digital channels to deepen financial inclusion and women’s economic empowerment.  To identify potential partner  in these countries, the Consortium reached out to EIB partner institutions aiming to gather insights into each FI’s existing focus on women as a target segment, desire to serve women entrepreneurs, and capacity to absorb the technical assistance.

 

Phase 2 March 2021-April 2023

For the project’s implementation phase, EIB will select four countries and a combination of commercial banks and microfinance institutions, to be part of the program.

AWRI will focus on both the market maker and banking on change perspectives – the market maker perspective ensures women have the capacity to access financing, and the banking on change perspective ensures FIs have the capacity to serve them well in a way that meets their unique needs and preferences.

The three-year technical advisory program will start with a need assessment of the FIs, which will be followed by market research in each country, resulting in the design and launch of a value proposition for women entrepreneurs addressing both their financial and non-financial needs. FIs will be close collaborators throughout the project, culminating in a handover phase, contributing to the program’s sustainability and long-term impact.


* The technical assistance operation is financed under the Cotonou Investment Facility. ConcumerCentriX takes full responsibility for the contents of this Publication. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the view of the European Union or of the European Investment Bank.


Enhancing your Business Management Skills as Rwanda Reopens for Business 

Enhancing your Business Management Skills as Rwanda Reopens for Business 

February 18th, 2021, at 3 pm CAT 

Join the SME Response Clinic for a live discussion featuring business development services providers in Rwanda. Learn about opportunities to enhance your management skills as Rwanda reopens for business. The discussion will be hosted on the SME Response Clinic’s Facebook page on February 18th at 3 pm CAT and held primarily in Kinyarwanda.  

Moderator: Eric Musizana, Agriculture & Rural Finance Project Officer, Access to Finance Rwanda  

Panelists 

  • Dr. Mukulira Olivier, Managing Director at the Rwanda Institute of Cooperatives, Entrepreneurship, and Microfinance  
  • Sarah Mukunde, Senior Manager, Westerwelle Startup Haus Kigali  
  • Malik Shaffy LizindeCountry Manager, African Management Institute  

ACCESS EVENT

Please note that the Livestream will not be available until 3 pm CAT on February 18th, 2021


How the Tourism Sector in Uganda Can Recover and Thrive

The COVID-19 Business Hub spoke with Richard Kawere, the Chief Executive Officer of the Uganda Tourism Association, to learn how the tourism sector in Uganda can recover from the pandemic and thrive in the future. In partnership with Stanbic Bank of Uganda, ConsumerCentriX is responsible for creating content for the COVID-19 Business Info Hub.

Ernest:  Can you please introduce yourself and describe your role at Uganda Tourism Association and tell us; what does the association do for the tourism sector?

Richard Kawere: My name is Richard Kawere, the Chief Executive Officer and technical coordinator of the Uganda Tourism Association. Uganda Tourism Association is the umbrella body of tourism private sector in Uganda.  In my role as the chief executive officer, I ensure that the association meets its mandate. This involves coordinating the private sector, in terms of advocacy, capacity building, product development, marketing and harmonized quality assurance standards.

We have approximately eight-member associations, including the Association of Guide Tour Operators, the Hotel Owners Association, and The Travel Agents Association. The General Managers Association, the Uganda Safari Guide Association, the National Cultural Crafts Association and the Tourism Trade show.

We remain focused on ensuring that we have a sustainable tourism industry in Uganda. To achieve this vision, we intervene between the government and the private sector for a favorable business environment for tourism enterprises in Uganda.

Ernest Wasake: Could you please tell us how the tourism sector has been affected by COVID?

Richard Kawere: The tourism sector has been the worst hit industry. If we are to narrow it down from the global perspective to the Ugandan perspective, the tourism industry was hit, actually before COVID entered Uganda. Because when COVID-19 hit the globe, cancelations started coming in as early as January and February. And those cancelations meant loss of business. As a result, businesses started going down as early as January and February.

By the time they announced a lockdown, tourism industry had already suffered substantial business loss. Each subsector of the tourism industry was hit differently. In terms of outbound tourism, the travel agents industry, suffered about 97 percent business loss with the announcement of airport closures. In terms of inbound tourism, our study (The Impact of Covid-19 on the tourism sector, Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, July 2020) revealed that tour operators suffered about 80 percent business loss (around 30.4 Million US dollars – 0.11 trillion shillings) in inbound tourism between the months of February and July. Meanwhile, the accommodation sector lost about 1.19 trillion shillings by July as a result of 48,966 room cancelations. On average, the study that we conducted puts the industry at a loss of about 92 percent of businesses and because there was no activity, there were temporary layoffs and about 80 percent of the workforce was fully laid off.

Ernest Wasake: What needs to be done to help the tourism sector recover and thrive?

Richard Kawere:  It requires a number of mixed strategies for our industry.  All businesses lost revenue and continue to pay operating costs, meaning that all tourism businesses have run out of, what I would call, operational cash flow, and some of them are tentatively even closed.  For the survival of the industry, we are looking at two dimensions: One dimension is survival in the form of grants and the other dimension is the recovery through soft loans. A mixture of those two is very important.

Marketing is also essential. As the globe settles down because now there’s this glimpse of a vaccine, it is all those countries that have been in touch with their clientele that will be on the travel lists. A good amount of money needs to be spent on constant marketing and promotion of Uganda as a destination. Because once there is some level of confidence for travelers to move, they will go to those destinations that have been properly marketed.

Additionally, Businesses need to be supported in the area of capacity building (both online and in person training), so they can design strategies to respond to such catastrophes like this one in the future. The psychological impact on business owners and employees is quite high. So making sure employees are counseled and also empowered through capacity building so that there is hope still ringing in the minds of these employees and the business enterprises. Most importantly is the adoption of technology as the new way for most of the business processes in the tourism industry. So first survive, then recover and then develop resilient mechanisms for future catastrophes.

Ernest Wasake: What would you say the future looks like in terms of if you were to sort of glance into what the future looks like, if the right things were put in place? What does the future look like for tourism?

Richard Kawere: Wherever there is a challenge, there’s always an opportunity. We have a very strong belief that this industry will bounce back strongly. Especially because people have been confined in [home] areas, we believe there is going to be a very strong push for people to move out and shake off the stress. That positive belief indicates that there will be an increased demand for the tourism services, both locally and internationally for both inbound and outbound.

It is also important that we have a secure and safe environment and a secure political environment. That gives confidence to our clients to arrive in one or two years since the vaccine is getting some little headway, maybe in about one year we may start [the journey of recovery] all over. The future of the industry is bright. What we need to do is to get our strategies right now. If we get our strategies right, then we would be able to compete favorably with other destinations.

 


How the Biashara Club transformed Patrick Malika’s network

How the Biashara Club transformed Patrick Malika’s network

In Kenya, it is difficult for potential landowners to purchase small plots of land. As a young entrepreneur interested in real estate, Patrick Malika recognized the gap in the market and started his own company that buys larger plots of lands and then divides that land into smaller plots for resell.

To buy larger parcels of land, he relies heavily on financing from KCB Bank. However as his business expanded, Patrick realized that he needed more than just financing to sustain growth. He needed a strong network. As a result, he joined KCB’s Biashara to club connect with other entrepreneurs. Last January, ConsumerCentriX spoke to Patrick to understand why networking was so important to his business’s success. .


How Samuel Njenga grew his school from 45 students to over 600 students

How Samuel Njenga grew his school from 45 students to over 600 students

Samuel Njenga is the executive director of the Saiwa Secondary School in Nairobi, Kenya. In 2009, he had just 45 students attending his school. By January 2020, the number of students had grown to 653. ConsumerCentriX spoke with Samuel to understand how Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) ’s emphasis on relationship management and business training helped grow his school.


COVID 19

A look back at 2020

A look back at 2020

Like small businesses across the globe, ConsumerCentriX felt firsthand the challenges of the pandemic in our work.  The very nature of how we go about our business suddenly changed. As consultants, we have spent years addressing financial inclusion in emerging markets by working closely with local partners the world over – largely in person. By the end of March, it was clear that traveling would no longer be a possibility for us for the foreseeable future.

Instead, we had to find new ways to stay connected to our partners in different markets. We retained local teams in Nigeria, Uganda, and Rwanda to ensure that projects stayed on schedule and developed new relationships with additional external partners.

It will come as no surprise that like many, we traded meetings in bank boardrooms for meetings on computer screens. And while there is no true replacement for an in-person meeting, we realized that many of our established relationships could be maintained through regular video conferencing. For example, in 2019, we convened a group of high-level regulators at the Bellagio Center in Italy to discuss strategies for accelerating digital financial inclusion. Bonds were cemented and the group was committed to continue to work together. We anticipated re-convening the group in three additional in-person sessions over 2020-2021; however, in light of the pandemic, we took the group virtual. Each month, the group reconvenes on Zoom and discusses topics ranging from recent regulatory changes to improve banking laws to strategizing on how to leverage technologies such as QR codes for improved customer transactions.

The pandemic not only forced us to change the way we communicate with partners and external stakeholders but also allowed us to innovate when it came to interacting directly with entrepreneurs. When lockdowns began in Rwanda and Uganda back in March, we recognized the challenges that all entrepreneurs in these two countries faced in finding a centralized place to get information. As a result, we created two digital platforms, the SME Response Clinic and the COVID-19 Business Info Hub.  Both sites provide regular updates on new policies, products and financial advice with the intention of helping entrepreneurs not only survive the pandemic but thrive in the time ahead.

Lastly, we also changed the way we interact with other stakeholders working in the financial inclusion space. We were excited to release a publication recently on the business case for providing non-financial services to women-owned SMEs at two highly visible virtual events – a Financial Alliance for Women Event in October and the SME Finance Forum in November.  While we would have love to spoken in person with stakeholders about the publication, we were deeply gratified by conversations and enthusiasm communicated via virtual panels and chat messages.

While many things changed for us in 2020, our commitment to creating a more equitable world through inclusive finance has not wavered. If anything, our work has become more important than ever as the pandemic exacerbated economic disparities across markets.  We hope to have made a lasting impact through the projects we wrapped up this year and to continue to make meaningful impact through new projects we engage in over the months and years to come.

2020 Project Updates


The following sections provide more information on our work in 10+ markets during what has been an unforgettable year.

OUr team had the opportunity to travel to Uganda to work on the segmentation one month before the lockdown.

Developing a holistic SME banking model to address financial and non-financial needs of entrepreneurs in East Africa

The key objective of this project is to develop a holistic SME banking model to address financial and non-financial needs of entrepreneurs in Uganda and Rwanda by partnering with two leading regional banks (Stanbic/Standard Bank Group and Kenya Commercial Bank) as well as NFS providers over a 3-year time period. We conducted customer segmentation studies that informed the design of SME propositions in both countries and assisted in the development of NFS offers for both banks.  This project is funded by the Argidius Foundation

The Key to Unlocking the Growth Potential of Women led Small and Medium Enterprises for Banks


Global research on the insights in the business case for non-financial services to women-owned SMEs

In the fall of 2020, ConsumerCentriX produced a report and two case studies for the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Dutch Development Bank (FMO), focusing on insights into the business case for non-financial services. Through extensive primary and secondary research, ConsumerCentriX identified the business case and best practices in providing non-financial services to women-owned SMEs

Click here to l.earn more about the Publication

Check out videos from the KCB Case Study

KCB Bank: Focusing on Women SMEs and non-financial services is a win-win for all

Non-financial services were instrumental in growing Patricia Mwangi’s business in Kenya

NFS from her bank helped Wanjiru Mbugua turn a side hustle into a thriving business


COVID-19 Business Info Hub


Introducing the COVID-19 Business Info Hub

In May 2020, Stanbic Bank and ConsumerCentriX launched the COVID-19 Business Info Hub. This website was developed to meet the needs of small- and medium-enterprises (SMEs) in Uganda in understanding the latest policies affecting SMEs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and actions taken by Stanbic Bank and venture funds to support clients and non-clients. The site also provides access to experts from the public and financial sectors and access to online training and business skills development courses for entrepreneurs through the Stanbic Business Incubator.

Check out example videos from the COVID-19 Business Info Hub

Cleaning up after COVID-19: An Interview with Lydia Syson Naiga of NLS Services Limited

Meet Rachel Lubega, Director of Quality Management Services Ltd

Meet Anne Namakula, Owner of Contour Consult

The SME Response Clinic


In May 2020, Access to Finance Rwanda and ConsumerCentriX launched the SME Response Clinic. This website was developed to meet the needs of small- and medium-enterprises (SMEs) in Rwanda in understanding the latest policies affecting SMEs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and actions taken by financial services providers to support clients and non-clients. The site also provides access to experts from the public and financial sectors and access to online training and business skills development courses for business owners. While the site has a particular focus on SMEs, information relevant for microenterprises is also available.

Introducing the SME Response Clinic

Check out example pieces of content from the SME Response Clinic

Simbare Gilbert, an Entrepreneur in Rwanda, explains the challenges of the pandemic and how he managed to overcome them.

Giselle Mukanyandwi, a Business Development Advisor, prepares entrepreneurs to overcome hardships and thrive

Mobile Money Charges in Rwanda

Bellagio Working Group on Digital Financial Inclusion

In 2019, ConsumerCentriX conceived and facilitated “Identifying Practical Solutions to Accelerating Financial Inclusion Through Government and Private Sector Collaborations” convening with top regulators from Egypt, Indonesia, and Nigeria and leading technical experts which resulted in identification of country-level initiatives that have been subsequently incorporated into national financial inclusion plans in respective markets.  Through the generous support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Bellagio Working Group on Digital Financial Inclusion was formalized in the spring of 2020.Through monthly virtual meetings, participants continue to collaborate by sharing important lessons and continuing to work together to find solutions for accelerating digital financial inclusion.

Check out this blog on the Bellagio Working Group to learn more.

Designing a Chatbot for Access Bank Nigeria

Through intensive market research and user testing, ConsumerCentriX helped design a user-friendly chatbot for a leading microfinance bank in Nigeria as part of their strategy to make more digital channels available to their clients. Research and user testing indicated that while COVID-19 has created many challenges for entrepreneurs, it has also made them more open to trying new technology. CCX provided key insights to support the institution in taking steps to bring customers along the journey from in-person interactions to personalized interactions via digital channels. The project was funded by the CDC Group.

Building National Gender Data Ecosystems

The Women’s Financial Inclusion Data (WFID) Partnership was established in 2014 and is one of the leading voices on women’s financial inclusion data across the world.  After focusing on awareness building and outreach during the partnership’s early years, the next phase of efforts centers around supporting country-level sex-disaggregated supply-side data collection with a specific focus on two stakeholders: financial service providers and policymakers. The holistic ecosystem approach will actively encourage supply side gender data in Nigeria, Kenya, Bangladesh, Honduras, Pakistan, Turkey, Lebanon by 2022. ConsumerCentrix, is supporting the implementation of this second phase.

Enhancing access to finance for refugees through innovation

This summer, ConsumerCentriX joined forces with Roland Berger, Europe’s leading strategy consultancy firm, to identify opportunities for IFC to improve access to finance for refugees in immigration hotspots like Uganda, Jordan, and Colombia. Leveraging years of experience developing financial solutions in emerging markets, ConsumerCentriX conducted an in-depth analysis of financial and social realities facing refugees in their host countries. After extensive stakeholder engagement, ideation for innovative solutions to mobilize private sector resources and virtual Upstream workshops with over 100 attendants from relevant institutions, a clear roadmap for IFC was developed. This roadmap will lead to several pilot projects in 2021 to support refugee entrepreneurship, with a particular focus on growing businesses in the renewable energy sector.  ConsumerCentriX is excited to apply its expertise further in the diaspora space to improve financial outcomes for refugees around the globe.


Photographer; Financial Administrative Officer; Consultant; Local Advisor

Photographer/Videographer (Part-time) - Uganda

Photographer/Videographer – Uganda (part-time)

Scope of work

CCX is seeking a creative Photographer/Videographer to support with content development for Covid-19 Business Info Hub and SBU CCX partnership

 

Background

ConsumerCentriX places a high value on the quality of photography used to support its corporate brand. As a company focused on consumer centricity, we prioritize shots with people in them wherever possible to put an effective “human face” on our work. Additionally, we prefer capturing subjects in landscapes and actions that provide insights about their everyday lives.

To provide much-needed information and solutions for Ugandan entrepreneurs struggling with the pandemic’s economic impacts, Stanbic Bank has partnered with ConsumerCentriX on the Covid-19 Business Info Hub.

This website will provide entrepreneurs advice on financial management to overcome economic slowdown and insights into new developments across industries.  Employing over 2.5 million people, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are the critical driver of growth for Uganda’s economy. However, as the COVID 19 pandemic unfolds, the SME sector faces reduced business activity and financial security due to disruptions to the supply chain, travel restrictions, and changing work environments.

The Covid-19 Business Info Hub will become a centralized platform for Stanbic to communicate responsive efforts with the SME segment and enterprise clients in Uganda. However, the site’s vision is to become a trusted resource for all entrepreneurs in Uganda, looking for industry insights and relevant virtual training sessions.

 

Scope of Work

The Photographer will provide CCX the following main activities:

  • At least a hundred raw photos of each client. Each photoshoot should include a diverse range of perspectives and capture different actions
  • Shoot a range of b-roll shots of clients in action so a video editor can easily piece together a sequence of wide, medium, and close ups. Videos must be shot in at least 1080p.

 

Deliverables

The photographer will be required to submit to CCX:

  • All raw photo files and video files

 

Requirements

In order to be considered for the selection process, candidates are required to:

  • Submit the list of equipment that will be used. Only photographers will full-frame professional cameras will be considered.
  • Submit a photography portfolio
  • Submit hourly rate

 

Availability Requirement:

  • Eligible candidates should be based in Kampala, Uganda
  • Photographs must be sent at least 5 days after each shoot.

 

Please your submit proposal and/or question to ana.singh@consumercentrix.ch


Photographer; Financial Administrative Officer; Consultant; Local Advisor

Content Consultant (Part-time) - Uganda

Content Consultant (Part-time)- Uganda

 To provide support to the  Covid-19 Business Info Hub 

 

Background

ConsumerCentriX is seeking an energetic Content Consultant to join the team for an initial period of six months to support with the content development.

ConsumerCentriX is a consulting firm based in Switzerland that focuses on translating human-centered market research and industry expertise into strategic insight that is actionable. We work with financial regulators and service providers in emerging markets to support the un- and underserved.

To provide much-needed information and solutions for Ugandan entrepreneurs struggling with the pandemic's economic impacts, Stanbic Bank has partnered with ConsumerCentriX on the Covid-19 Business Info Hub.  This website will provide entrepreneurs advice on financial management to overcome economic slowdown and insights into new developments across industries.

The Covid-19 Business Info Hub will become a centralized platform for Stanbic to communicate responsive efforts with the SME segment and enterprise clients in Uganda. However, the site's vision is to become a trusted resource for all entrepreneurs in Uganda, looking for industry insights and relevant virtual training sessions.

Scope of Work

The consultant will provide CCX the following main activities:

  • Support with the Covid-19 Business Info Hub content: source content from newspapers, conferences, events, and other SME related public fora for the site. Help with topical research as requested by CCX
  • Conduct interviews (and effectively transcribe) with SME owners and Business Incubator graduates to produce content for the Hub
  • Translation of content from English to Luganda
  • Voice over animations in English and Luganda
  • Coordinating the African Management Institute (AMI) Survive to Thrive program training (Call clients and confirm attendance, coordinate kickoff meetings and training). Currently, the program has 23 Stanbic Bank clients.
  • Support the training program for Enterprise Banking with the Learning and Development Department at Stanbic Bank as requested by the project director

Deliverables

The consultant will submit routine reports to the project director (as required by CCX SOW policy) and keep all relevant CCX staff abreast with continuing work assignments   

Requirements

Qualified candidates will have the following:

  • Fluency in Luganda and English (for translation)
  • Good redaction skills in Luganda and English (support with content development)
  • Analytical and research skills
  • Multitasking and communication skills
  • Living in Kampala

 

Availability Requirement

Successful candidates will be hired initially as part-time (11 days per month)

Please email your application to ana.singh@consumercentrix.ch


Supporting Women Entrepreneurs

The Stanbic Business Incubator enables women entrepreneurs to reach their full potential as business owners

By Ana Singh, Communications & Marketing Manager at ConsumerCentriX
 ConsumerCentriX works closely with Stanbic Bank Uganda on both the COVID-19 Business Info Hub and the Stanbic Business Incubator. This article originally appeared on the COVID-19 Business Info Hub.

Through business development services, training, networking events, and mentoring, the Stanbic Business Incubator offers an enabling ecosystem for entrepreneurs to protect and grow their businesses. The incubator also provides participants with opportunities to engage with subject matter experts and access markets and finance. By joining the Stanbic Business Incubator, women entrepreneurs can take advantage of opportunities that they may have not otherwise had.

Hudah Tamale is no stranger to pivoting. When she began her business in 2015, she thought she could make money selling cakes. To attract new customers, she started offering herbal teas as a marketing strategy. However, she soon found herself becoming more excited over her tea products. After recognizing where her true passion lay, she shifted her business strategy and started focusing entirely on selling tea.

When the COVID-19 lockdown began, Tamale found herself needing to pivot her business, Nash Royal Tea, again. With social distancing measures in place, she needed to rely more heavily on digital marketing strategies. Luckily, she had already learned many of the skills that she would need through the Stanbic Business Incubator.

Today, she has a digital marketing strategy incorporated into her business plans and maintains an active online presence that has helped her through the pandemic. For women entrepreneurs struggling, she stresses the importance of digitizing. “If you don’t have an online presence right now, you are almost nonexistent in business right now,” she warned.

Women entrepreneurs in Uganda and worldwide have had to face a rapidly changing business environment while still taking care of their children full-time once the schools closed. Even in regular times, women entrepreneurs face well-documented barriers that prevent them from reaching their full potential. Men are more likely to have the right information, training, and guidance to inform their dealings with financial institutions and plan effectively for their businesses in the long-term.

Through business development services, training, networking events, and mentoring, the Stanbic Business Incubator offers an enabling ecosystem for entrepreneurs to protect and grow their businesses. The incubator also provides participants with opportunities to engage with subject matter experts and access markets and finance. By joining the Stanbic Business Incubator, women entrepreneurs can take advantage of opportunities that they may have not otherwise had.

“Women entrepreneurs are a great resource to this country from our training we have come to realize that women play a very vital role in how enterprises are run and how enterprises are actually sustained over a long period of time. Our commitment to the support of women especially the women entrepreneurs is one that we cannot deviate from. We have for a long time decided to have a quota set for women entrepreneurs to be able to see them participate and enjoy the benefits of our training program. our commitment, therefore, is not a one-off intervention. Many women have been part of this whole story especially after the realization that the lockdown or COVID was going to impact many businesses for a long time. We’re certain that we can be very much in partnership with a lot of women entrepreneurs to scale them to further their dreams.”  said Tony Otoa, Executive Director, Stanbic Business Incubator Limited.

Meet Rachel Lubega

When she heard about the incubator from a friend, Rachel Lubega had already co-owned her corporate event business, Quality Management Services LTD, for 18 years. However, despite the longevity of her business, she believed she still had room to grow. “I felt excited because I love learning, getting training, and gaining new skills,” she said.

As part of the training, she joined a cohort of service providers that included some of her competitors. Through networking and personal bonding, she began to see her competition as potential business partner. “We even were able to get business together. It was great having to create that kind of relationship with our competitors,” she added.

Not only was she able to create business opportunities through networking, but she became more adept at auditing, bookkeeping, and digital marketing. To the benefit of her business, she transferred many of these new skills she was learning to her employees.

Like Tamale, Lubega found particular value in the seminars on digital marketing. “At the time, we had the website, but it wasn’t very active. But now I know the importance of having an active website.” She added that implementing digital strategies and maintaining a web presence has made a beneficial difference for her business during the pandemic.

As businesses across Uganda adjust to the “new normal”, so has the Stanbic Business Incubator. “We have had to rethink our program, going away from the typical classroom lecture mode into online tutorials and lectures,” said Otoa in a recent interview. He added that the shift made entrepreneurs hopeful because of a shared need for information on financial management, governance, and other issues critical to business survival in an economic downturn.

Participants are still able to network at the Incubator even though the classes are online.

“They introduce themselves at the start of every session and are given provision to state what each of their businesses is about, share experiences, and share their contact information with other participants,” said Nadia Ayaa, Program Coordinator, Stanbic Business Incubator Limited.

The switch from a classroom setting to online tutorials also creates more flexibility for women entrepreneurs, who often balance household responsibilities and business ventures. Instead of going to a classroom, they can access the training at the comfort of their home or office.

For more information about the Stanbic Business Incubator Limited, please call
0312 226 700