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Congratulations to Simon Mycock, a British VC based in Dubai, for completing his Uganda600 project in record time! Here he shares his tips on how to be a great VC and have a smooth (ish) experience

Congratulations to Simon Mycock, a British VC based in Dubai, for completing his Uganda600 project in record time! Here he shares his tips on how to be a great VC and have a smooth (ish) experience

  • Contact your entrepreneur by phone and introduce yourself in the first instance.
  • Don’t rely on email and ask your project coordinator to help if you get stuck.
  • Contact mobile numbers are often changed without warning.
  • When you first speak to your client, as well as agreeing a date and time for your first session also ask them about the best way of keeping in touch with them. Ask about SMS, WhatsApp, landline, Skype and email but most importantly check how often they access them. Some entrepreneurs may only have access to comms on a very limited basis.
  • During your first session get to know each other – don’t just focus on their business, ask about their family, where they live and share this about yourself. It’s important to create trust.
  • Try to understand their weekly schedule, and what time and day of the week is best for them on a regular basis for your sessions. You will need to manage exceptions, however it is much easier for you both if you have a regular time and day to meet.
  • If communications are difficult, see if your project coordinator can help you by hosting your entrepreneur for their sessions at the local Grow Movement office.
  • If possible follow up each session with a summary of the discussion and the tasks via email.
  • Use the project management system to record everything, including comments between sessions i.e. if a sessions is rescheduled – remember Grow Movement are using this to measure the projects.
  • Prior to the next session send a reminder of the agreed date, time and channel via the most appropriate comms for the entrepreneur.
  • Don’t try to cover too much too soon – it’s better for the entrepreneur to focus on doing a couple of tasks well and seeing the benefits.
  • The day to day running of their business will be put first so it’s important to emphasis they need to set aside time to make any changes you agree.
  • Avoid business speak and acronyms – take time to explain what you mean and check for understanding. Some concepts we take for granted may be completely new for an entrepreneur.
  • Try to create a structure for each session – think about using the first part to recap on the previous session, the middle part to continue progress toward the entrepreneurs’ objectives, and the last part to summarize the session and position the next session.

Monday, 7 December 2015

How a Healthcare professional worked with a glass and aluminium retailer in Uganda

How a Healthcare professional worked with a glass and aluminium retailer in Uganda

How a Healthcare professional worked with a glass and aluminium retailer in Uganda

Fadzai Marange a Healthcare Operations and Service Manager with experience across all managerial disciplines from financial control and planning to personnel management, change management, strategy and process improvement is part of the Uganda600 VC team working with John Sande a glass and aluminium retailer in Kampala. She is part of the team who has completed their project! Well done! Here she talks about here experience.

The Uganda 600 journey
It has been a great experience to be a VC for this Uganda 600 project. While some days were tougher than others however the whole experience has been great.

The challenges
1. Like many other VCs it was a challenge to get all sessions done as a few resulted in no show from client. I had to call the client directly on some occasions to communicate as they could not make it to skype. On one occasion my client turned up we spoke for 10 minutes and the electricity cut off leaving a dead skype line. Some days it was severe weather conditions or family challenges.

2. My client lacked confidence to go out and market himself and his business. The greatest challenge was to get to a level where he believed he could do it; it took a lot of patience, encouragement and tough talk.

The great experiences
My greatest experience has been the feeling of a sense of satisfaction in impacting someone’s life positively. When I started with my client his greatest challenge was marketing. Talking him through to understand the concepts behind marketing and building a strategy was my greatest experience as he followed it through. He now gets contracts huge contracts; the unfortunate thing is that his resources don’t allow him to take on such huge contacts. For example he got a 30 million shilling contract which he unfortunately had to let go as he had no immediate funds to get raw materials. His usual contracts were usually 2 million shillings or less.

Professionally, this experience helped me to apply all the concepts I have been gathering in my career journey. I managed to network with other professionals who helped increase my confidence and helped in a lot of ways. Personally I learnt that having the right attitude matters the most. John has the right attitude to both learn and work hard. He has so many challenges including an extended family yet he remains undeterred. His determination helped me to put my own life into perspective and I now appreciate what I have access to.
My team manager Sean Clancy has been amazingly supportive.

Way forward
It would give me more satisfaction to see John through applications for a grant to expand his business. Hence I would like to do a few more sessions to see which organisations he can contact and help him with the application.

It’s been a pleasure to work for Grow.

Monday, 7 December 2015

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Working on Finance in Uganda

Working on Finance in Uganda

Working on Finance in Uganda

Angela Hohl-Abichedid a Business Development Manager for Philips Lighting USA worked with Tumwine in Uganda who runs ‘House of Success’, a small and short term loans company based in Kampala. They have just finished their 12 sessions together. 

“Getting started was much easier than I expected. My client spoke English very well, was very open, very eager to succeed and we had the good fortune of a quite reliable internet connection which made video conferencing and file sharing seamless.

We got down to business right away as my client had specific ideas of what he wanted to accomplish: to rapidly grow his business. During the first sessions I tried to uncover as much information as possible while learning about my client’s expectations. After three sessions we were ready to agree on realistic goals.

Overall I found that my client knew his business very well but needed help with financial record keeping and analysis. I spent a lot of time preparing and teaching financial analysis tools adapted to his business and easy to use. A session would last between 1 – 2 hours and we also communicated via email and WhatsApp in-between sessions especially when sessions had to be re-scheduled. My client now keeps some financial records and is aware of risk. He expressed a lot of gratitude for my help and we still keep in touch.

Overall I enjoyed this project very much as it challenged me to solve very different business problems than I normally do in my day job. I hope I made a positive contribution in my client’s life. ”

16th May 2018

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Scottish Minister in Malawi

Scottish Minister in Malawi

Scottish Minister in Malawi

HUMZA’S VISIT TO MALAWI – OCTOBER 2015.

Grow Movement Malawi is supported by Scottish Government funding. Imagine Team Malawi’s excitement to meet Humza Yousaf last week. Here Sophie Kumwanje Grow’s Country Manager for Malawi talks about her experience.

The Scottish Minister for International Development and External Affairs Humza Yousaf arrived in Malawi on 19th October 2015.  I had an opportunity of meeting him at the luncheon that was organized by the Malawi Scotland partnership in his honour on the 20th of October 2015. During my networking over lunch, Humza said he is in Malawi to strengthen the relationship between the two countries.

The following are the questions he asked about Grow Movement:-

  • The impact of Remote mentoring on the entrepreneurs and;
  • Challenges that the entrepreneurs are facing

He was very happy to hear that since 2013 February the following:-

 Impact:-

–                      152 completed projects
–                      Conducted impact assessment on 126 projects
–                      158 jobs were created so far
–                      6,920 lives affected

Challenges

–                      Communication and Language barriers,

I indicated that the coming in of Scottish funding will mitigate these challenges because of laptops that will be located to some communities to be used by the entrepreneurs and the introduction of non-speaking English sessions through a translator.

He commended what Grow Movement is doing here in Malawi and was very pleased with our expansion to Mzuzu.  He also added that what Grow Movement is doing is not only improving people’s lives but also improving the whole country of Malawi.

Humza also commended Claire Jenkins from London and Jerome Roebuck from Scotland for their hard work in securing the funding for Grow Movement Malawi’s expansion in Mzuzu. I had a very good experience and I enjoyed interacting with him.  I had seen that Humza is a very good listener, very positive and encouraging. Both Humza and Michael Nevin, Malawi British High Commissioner told me that they follow our activities on twitter everyday!!!

16th May 2018

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Germany based consultant talks about retailing in Kampala, Uganda

Germany based consultant talks about retailing in Kampala, Uganda

Germany based consultant talks about retailing in Kampala, Uganda

Omar Garcia Uridales – an Uganda600 consultant based in Germany with an MBA from St Edwards University, USA, talks about his experience of developing a customer service, promotional plan and financial model for a retail store in Kampala, Uganda.

My client’s name is Issac Bamwidhi and he owns a convenient store at Masiro Road Kasubi, Kampala Central Region of Uganda. The street which Issac’s convenient store is located is near the Kasubi Tombs in Kampala which is a UNESCO World Heritage site and he is also seven kilometres away from the downtown area of Kampala.

Issac and I primarily use WhatsApp as a means of communication. We also have used Skype video with the assistance of Ms. Pamela Ayot, Client Manager for Grow Movement. Ms. Ayot has been an important reason in giving us the reassurance of assistance and easing the challenges of communication within our project. At start of the Grow Movement project, Issac had identified the following three challenges he was faced with at the start of his business:

First challenge was to develop a strategy for Customer Service in order to attract and retain clients.

Second challenges was to create a business strategy in which his store would differentiate his competition. Keeping in mind that at the same street where his store is located within twenty meters away there is a cluster of stores that compete with him.

The third challenge was creating a financial model in which he could manage his store and to keep track of his products sold at his store.

Within three months, we have solved Issac’s first addressed challenges in the following manner: First issue to address was to develop a strategy for Customer Services. I encouraged Issac to develop a report with his customer. By doing so, we better understood the needs of the customer and we were able to identify which products Issac could consider to sell at his store. We also understood that word of mouth was Issac best form of advertisement at the moment in which we have used to channel information such as sales promotion that runs from the middle of the month to the end of the month. This has empowered Issac’s customers to have purchasing power during the time of the month where the financial resources our not as plentiful as they are at the start of the month. This has also attracted a customer flow within his store.

Second issue that was addressed was creating a business strategy in which his store would differentiate itself from the competition. The strategy we created was developing a sales promotion starting in the middle of the month. Before we started, no competitor had an existing promotion strategy. The strategy also allowed Issac to evaluate from his promotion if some of his products that he was selling could be discontinued and replaced with different products. Currently Issac now has the information in which he can then evaluate if he is able to discontinue a product and with the same amount of investment used on the discontinued product of that of a new product such as spaghetti and eggs which have proven to have a higher demand.

Third issue was to create a financial model in order to manage his store. The approach taken by Issac has done very well. For this, we made a financial plan together while I mentored him. This was done with the idea that Issac would be self-efficient after the project with Grow Movement is completed. Currently Issac now knows how to keep track of his sales items and expenses with a record keeping log for his store. He also knows how to read and develop a Balance Sheet and Income Statement. We are currently reviewing how to analyse Inventory Turnover and how to accept and reject the introduction of a new product within his store. This learning approach would have not been as affective without Issac wiliness to learn and develop as a business owner.

We are entering our seventh session and Issac just recorded for the month of September 2015 Sales Revenue of UGX 1,953,700 which is a 39% increase from the Month of August. Currently Issac is experienced a growth within his store and the opportunity to evaluate future plans of growth. For example, he wants to start to selling chickens at the Christmas and New Year’s event held at his town. Therefore, the remaining of the sessions I will assist Issac in learning how to evaluate and monitor his store’s growth and financial analysis. Issac told Grow Movement that in three years he wanted to have a Supermarket and enter the wholesales business sector. Therefore, I plan to give him the knowledge and assist him within the remaining sessions on how to guide his growth. 5

I am grateful to have worked with Issac and Grow Movement. I have only positive things to say from my experience of working and interacting with individuals that make Grow Movement possible. I have not only gained the experience of consulting a micro business in Uganda but I have also seen first-hand how Grow Movement has the empowerment of instituting growth not only to the Entrepreneurs we work with but also to the consultants that take part of the mission of Grow Movement.

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