Meet three incredible women entrepreneurs as we celebrate women this March.

 This video was originally posted on the SME Response Clinic

Meet three incredible women entrepreneurs as we celebrate women this March.

This March, join us as we reflect on and celebrate the vital role women play in our communities and the tremendous contribution they make to our economy. The SME Response Clinic spoke to three women entrepreneurs to understand what women’s month means to them s, what motivated them to start their own businesses, and get their advice for aspiring women entrepreneurs.

Here is what they had to say!

Oil and Gas Value Chain

Stanbic Business Incubator Chief Executive Gives an Overview of the Opportunities for SMEs in the Oil and Gas Value Chain in Uganda

Stanbic Business Incubator Chief Executive gives an overview of the opportunities for SMEs in the Oil and Gas Value Chain in Uganda

Ernest Wasake:   Good morning, Comrade Tony Otoa; I hope this finds you well. How have you been holding up during this period of the pandemic? 

Tony Otoa:   Thank you very much for hosting me. I have been great.

I have had a great time of learning, growing and understanding how to do things differently—and now we are getting used to doing different things to make things happen.

Ernest Wasake:  Could you give us an overview of the Oil and Gas Value Chain in Uganda?

Tony Otoa: The Oil and Gas Value Chain is a very vast and intense one. It is a great value chain with many opportunities, especially in the local context.

The chain has upstream, midstream and downstream project segments. The upstream project is about the drilling, construction and civil works. In the midstream project, you have the oil pipeline of 1400-kilometre from Hoima in Uganda to the Tanga Port in Tanzania. The downstream, which is already evident in the country, is available for many local entities to deliver the final oil products to the consumers. There is less local participation in the upstream and the midstream projects because they are technical and capital intensive.

The Oil and Gas Value Chain in Uganda is an exciting opportunity for many local people. Opportunities include a wide range of jobs created plus the provision of services and goods in the downstream operations. With close to 15,000 workers to be employed directly, there will be a big need for food, accommodation, and health services, among others. When we talk about food, agriculture becomes a critical focus area, presenting many opportunities to benefit from.

Ernest Wasake:  Great, please tell us about the Stanbic Business Incubator Limited’s role in the Oil and Gas Value Chain?

Tony Otoa:  The Incubator’s role is very interesting and has been evident for quite some time.

We do not see ourselves as a stand-alone financial entity but as an entity supporting Oil and Gas Value Chain players. The Stanbic Business Incubator has concentrated on training and making Ugandan businesses astute over the last three years. When I speak about astute, I mean ensuring the visibility of demand, letting them know what opportunities are coming their way, and training them to become efficient, sustainable, and thrive.

There is no doubt that Ugandan businesses will seize the Oil and Gas sector opportunities with the Incubator’s support. For example, some companies that have come out of the incubator program are now huge players in the Oil and Gas space. One of the companies is Inspecta Africa, a company providing services to the Chinese National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC) and has gone on to forge international partnerships with businesses across the region.

We also want to create stories that speak to employability for young people and steer financial rotation in the sector. We hope that as we support local businesses to become better, we can see many companies improving and actively participating in the industry. In the early times, not many Ugandan companies actively participated during the exploration and the appraisal phase. Many of them were sub, sub, sub, subcontractors. We want our companies to be contractors or subcontractors who are making real revenue and not breadcrumbs.

Ernest Wasake: Thank you for the excellent overview. What opportunities exist for SMEs in the Value Chain?

Tony Otoa:  Enormous opportunities exist for SMEs in the Value Chain.

As you all know, the Government of Uganda has been very deliberate in ring-fencing some areas for local businesses. So Ugandan SMEs have priority when it comes to these opportunities. Some of these include civil work construction, transport logistics, catering, hospitality, security, manpower, etc. SMEs simply need to understand and prepare to apply for the opportunities.

As a business, you might have been in operation for a long time, but for as long as you have not gone the extra mile to make yourself known and active in the Oil and Gas space, it will be hard to participate. First, the Oil and Gas sector is capital intensive. Businesses need time to develop and become attractive to financing. That financing is now readily available.

Second, seek to understand the sector more by engaging with the different sector actors. We now see a trend of the Oil and Gas sector now coming back into the arena. Businesses need to seek partners to make this a reality through joint venture partnerships with local and international companies. If SMEs can do that, then we are doing well as a country because the sector proves that growth is possible.

Ernest Wasake: What policies exist to encourage SME participation in the Value Chain? 

Tony Otoa:  Uganda has done well in terms of policy and regulations for the Oil and Gas sector.

When we compare with countries like Nigeria, which has been producing oil for over 60 years, their local content regulations and laws came into play around 2010/2011. For Uganda, even before the Oil and Gas activities were fully operational, we created those laws, regulations and policies, which is a good step. We have policies that support the participation of local businesses in the Oil and Gas space under the local content policy. Some sector activities are ring-fenced for Ugandan companies, which is a great starting point.

These laws and policies are great, but if we do not have Ugandan SMEs who can manage to participate in that space, the law also allows foreign entities to take over the space. So it is upon us to take advantage of the policies and maximize the available opportunities.

Ernest Wasake: What would it take to increase SMEs’ level of participation in the Oil and Gas Value Chain? 

Tony Otoa:   We can do a lot to increase SMEs’ participation in the Value Chain.

I will share a story to answer the question. In 2018, I knew a company while I was at Total E&P as National Content Manager. This company wanted to do what the big players like Schlumberger, Halliburton, and Baker Hughes were doing. The company kept on bidding for those opportunities, but unfortunately, they kept falling off the grid. Why? They did not have what it took to participate in the sector. They had no policies in place. When we brought them on board at the Incubator, we trained them on a three-month program and coached them for close to nine months. During the same time, we supported them to get ISO certification and other certifications. As I speak today, the same company supports CNOOC in various operations and project work for an international logistics company.  That shows you that it is possible in a short period for a small company to become a great participant in the Oil and Gas Value Chain, employ many people and create value in the country. This story speaks to the many businesses that still have the dream and hope of participating in the Oil and Gas sector.

Lastly now that the Final Investment Decision (FID) is soon, it is a signal to an excellent start for Ugandans participating in the Oil and Gas sector. But like the gun at a race, if you are not ready when the sound goes off, you are not prepared, and whoever is prepared will take on this whole race. Therefor SMEs need preparation to benefit from this value chain. As the Stanbic Business Incubator together with our partners we support SME preparation through training, information sharing and creating visibility over demand. We are positive that with these interventions we shall have more SMEs participating in the Oil and Gas value chain.

Uncertain Times

Managing Through Uncertain Times  

Managing Through Uncertain Times  

A version of this article was originally posted on the SME Response Clinic

The SME Response Clinic spoke with Ruzindana Gerald, a nutritionist from Amazon Nutrition Cabinet, a business supporting people with healthy nutritional practices to promote physical and mental wellness. Gerald shared some of the common challenges entrepreneurs have faced in recent months due to the pandemic and tips entrepreneurs can use to mitigate those challenges. These include:   

  • Disruption to normal routines for example lesser operating hours due to curfew. This may make it hard to meet deadlines, find time to efficiently and productively serve your clients or even take breaks for re-energizing.   
  • Rising anxiety and stress from situations you cannot control. For example, irrespective of the current situation, you still have to deal with expenses such as rent, salaries, and taxes.  
  • Lack of concentration or a sense of not knowing what to focus on next due to lesser interactions with clients and suppliers.  
  • Negative effects on our health or state of mind such as  
    • Loss or increase of appetite and craving 
    • Changes in our mood due to loneliness at the workplace or working remotely
    • Inability to sleep arising from stress and anxiety  
    • Decrease in physical activity due to periodic lockdowns 

To mitigate these challenges, Gerald suggested tips that would help entrepreneurs make better decisions, lead employees and make changes to survive the pandemic and ongoing lockdown. They include:  

  • Try to rise at the same time each day and organize your day including time for work, meals, light exercise, and family obligations. Try to go to sleep at the same time each night.  
  • Carve out time for exercise – even 20 minutes of light stretching, a short walk, or even dancing at home can help clear your mind.  
  • Make sure you make time for meals and try to eat healthy foods when you can. Some examples of healthy foods are vegetables and fruits. These can help boost your immunity, giving you more energy to run your business.  
  • Reach out to your networks. Send messages, make calls, or video chat when you can with your friends and family. Checking in with your clients, employees, and suppliers to see how they are doing will also go a long way! Share your own thoughts and experiences so that they feel connected, too.  

These are just a few tips – different things work for different people, so try things out and see what works for you.  


For more information contact: Tel: +250 784 465 520


Employee experience

5 ways to enhance employee experience

5 ways to enhance employee experience

During challenging times, many companies have a hard time ensuring good employee experience and morale, which can be especially harmful to business performance. In this video, we discuss five ways your company can improve employee experience and positively impact your bottom line. Get ready to reap the rewards of greater employee engagement!


As a business owner, you are always on a constant journey with your employees. Employee experiences are crucial to your business – they influence employee attitudes and these attitudes in turn form behaviors that eventually drive outcomes. These are five ways you can improve employee experience:


  1. Exercise an open-door policy.

An open-door policy means that you are open to communication, discussion, and feedback from every employee. This means employees have the liberty to raise their concerns and suggestions outside their chain of command without worrying. With an open-door policy, business owners have a better chance to connect with employees, show their support, and understand employees personally. This arrangement fosters trust and loyalty and strengthens your work relationship with them.

  1. Check-in individually from time to time.

One-on-one meetings are essential and should help you understand current issues employees may be facing and offer the opportunity for you to provide feedback on employee progress. We know things get busy; therefore, it is crucial to dedicate some time to listen to employees while being supportive through providing positive and constructive feedback.

  1. Share the bigger picture.

With fewer complicated administrative procedures than a large corporation, consider sharing plans for your business with employees. This will make them feel more valued. It is easy for employees to be more engaged with their work if they better understand your vision for the future, and their contribution can help you achieve a particular goal.

  1. Exercise flexibility.

Flexible work arrangements are becoming the norm in many businesses across all sectors. Consider flexibility in your business to improve your employees’ work-life balance and quality of life. Being flexible means that you are open, allowing workers time-off, especially during emergencies s. Such arrangements can help to reduce absenteeism, increase productivity, and enhance loyalty.

  1. Provide employee benefits that are relevant to their needs.

Small businesses may have the idea that employee benefits are costly and unaffordable, and while this may be the case, implementing some benefits makes a massive difference in keeping workers happy, which in turn incentivizes higher productivity. An example of an affordable employee benefit would be to offer options or perks that coincide with the season. For example, introduce summer Fridays so that everyone starts their weekend a few hours early. Most businesses are resuming operation soon in Rwanda; consider implementing these tips to create a conducive environment where your employees have the opportunity to increase their productivity in their work.



Muhimpundu Jacqueline, an Entrepreneur in Rwanda, explains her challenges with the pandemic and how she managed to overcome them

This video was originally posted on the SME Response Clinic. Muhimpundu Jacqueline, an Entrepreneur in Rwanda, to understand the challenges she faced due the pandemic and how she managed to overcome them.

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

This video was originally posted on the SME Response Clinic. Simbare Gilbert, an Entrepreneur in Rwanda, to understand the challenges he faced due the pandemic and how he managed to overcome them.

Non-financial Services Were Instrumental in Growing Patricia Mwangi's Business


Patricia Mwangi is the Managing Director of Little Africa, a client of KCB Bank in Kenya and a member of its Biashara Club. Patricia talks about how the bank’s financial services and non-financial services including training, networking and international trade opportunities delivered through the Biashara Club have been instrumental in growing her business. This video was filmed, edited, and produced by ConsumerCentiX for IFC and FMO