I’ve been fortunate to have had great mentors in my professional life, so I’m always keen on paying it forward. Becoming a volunteer consultant for the Grow Movement was appealing in so many levels. Firstly, the potential impact I could make to my client to boost his business and improve his and others’ lives. Secondly, put to use for a good cause the skills and experiences I’ve accumulated over the years in management consulting and telecoms. And lastly, put technology to good use and learn first-hand about the realities of a small business owner on the other side of the world – all from my home office!

I was assigned to work with Ronald Genza, owner of Geldin Ltd, a small retailer of auto security systems and accessories in Kampala, Uganda. From our first Skype session, Ronald impressed me with his vision for the business, his resourcefulness and eagerness to learn. He had cemented relationship with product manufacturers and suppliers in South Africa, China, UAE and Kenya and had established himself as a “one-stop shop” for his broker and end-user clients. But Ronald felt there were two things he needed to pursue in order to grow his business: improve his financial skills and develop a more professional approach and image to enter the b2b contracts market. These became the focus of our sessions together.

Each session required preparation from both of us. On my side, to think through which tasks to propose to Ronald to help him achieve his goals. For example, to visit similar companies addressing the b2b market and navigate their websites to identify what he’d need to do differently to sell to enterprises. Or to undertake analysis of the business financials to pin-point areas of action. For Ronald, to complete the task, feedback on the outcomes of the ideas he tried out or just come armed with questions we could solve together in the session. For instance, it became clear a high amount of cash was tied into slow moving stock. Digging into the reasons for this led to a few options concerning how to manage supplier order volumes, gain flexibility on payment conditions and improve accounts receivables terms and timing.

Of course there were challenges – disconnected calls, understanding each other (a huge exercise for me to drop the “consulting” speak!). But Ronald’s commitment throughout the 12 sessions impressed me. I believe we’ve made good progress vis-à-vis his objectives and truly hope our sessions help him grow his business. It has been a real pleasure working with Ronald and being a part of Grow Uganda 600