Group 12 – Inspiration from Refugee Entrepreneurs

Victoire, Leah, Barbra, and Nicholas – Team Rwenzori

Last but certainly not least – Team Rwenzori for the win; named after West Uganda’s highest peak since we strive to be always on top! Formed with Leah and Victoire from CBS and Barbra and Nicholas in the MUBS side, we can’t believe our research project is already almost coming to an end.

Passionate about refugee entrepreneurship, we chose to focus on Congolese refugees since they form the largest population groups before Somalis, Rwandans and South Sudanese and they are known to be economically active working as tailors, selling bitenges – African fabric – or jewellrys.  After some intense discussion brainstorming on our research, we finally came up with our one million research questions: How does social capital influence Congolese refugees’ entrepreneurs running their business?  Our aim was to find out how these Refugees could mobilize different level of social networks from their close relatives up to the governments and NGOs working with refugees in an entrepreneurial context.

As team resources, we were able to count on Victoire and Leah to speak French with the Congolese and an MUBS knowledge of the city to figure out the best spots to go scouting. We set up Cooper Complex in the city center as our area of play since most Congolese entrepreneurs operates in this busy area. We spent a week and half scouting and interviewing ‘in the field’ – which we should may rename ‘in the jungle’. Imagine bodas everywhere and a multitude stalls selling spices, beauty products, food and drinks or African fabric. Unlike some of the other teams who were sitting comfortably in big corporations’ offices or startup hubs, our interviews consisted mostly of us trying to scribble on our notebooks while avoiding at the same to get knocked by vendors carrying large bags in the narrow alleys – but how fun! We absolutely loved the kindness of all of the interviewees – the plus being to become friends with tailors who were able to make us clothes out of African fabric.

Now’s last day of preparation for the presentation – we hope to impress with our new dresses and – possibly – our findings.

As said by Barbra, “My two muzungus are Kampala girls now” – well the girls would love to be in Kampala forever!

Group 11 – Why You Should Watch Out for Kampala’s Tech Sector

Zoey, Rajab, Benjamin & Luna

Kampala isn’t necessarily a city you think of when thinking about technological innovation or a booming tech-sector. However, Over the last few weeks we have had the pleasure to gain an inside view on some of the businesses and organizations taking part in Kampala’s up and coming tech sector. Our research topic deals with seeing what strategies young digital entrepreneurs are using in order to create and build successful businesses. To encounter these tech-businesses we employed various methods including reaching out to personal contacts and even online searches, however the majority of our respondents we found by simply checking some of the local tech hubs and co-working spaces. We had the opportunity to speak with some of the people behind the scene at some of Kampala’s biggest hubs opening the door to form connections with the entrepreneurs working there. We were definitely surprised at the start to see how many young entrepreneurs are engaging in various tech-businesses across Kampala. The businesses we interviewed belonged to a diverse set of digital sectors ranging from biometric payments to platform creation. Each entrepreneur came with a unique background and had their own way to overcome obstacles that their businesses were facing. It was inspirational to see that many of the entrepreneurs met were building businesses that help their local community through the use of technology, some of these included wearable technology to protect women’s safety, programming drones to deliver life-saving blood and agricultural apps to help farmers. It will be interesting to see how some of these tech-solutions can help solve some of the challenges Uganda is facing at the moment or even if they can be expanded to other markets.

All-in-all it has been an eventful, fun and challenging field study. It is hard to believe that just two short weeks ago we formed our groups and embarked on our research path. This has been a transformational journey as the group has had the opportunity to learn from one another and learn about the promising growth taking place in Kampala’s tech sector.

Tunaalabagana 🙂


Group 9 – Turning plastic into profit

Alex, Ruth, Emma and Nora

A Dane, a German, a West Ugandan and an East Ugandan walk into a bar… Or lecture room, for that matter. Who knew this crazy constellation of a group could agree on a topic so quickly? Turns out: The interest in plastic recycling is a universal one! ‘Let’s investigate all the cool ways of giving a second life to plastic waste’, we thought. ‘Oh, and let’s figure out what reaaally motivates these cool social entrepreneurs to do so, so that we can spread the message!’

So, on our journey we went. But how do you even find those awesome geniuses that work against plastic waste, one kaveera at a time? After running around in the scorching sun for what felt like 12 hours, we had merely found one guy, who only reluctantly shared with us why he decided to recycle tires and make sandals out of them (I know, so cool!).

After this fairly disappointing start, the following day we worked our snowballing magic and were lucky to meet 5 (!!) social entrepreneurs who made a living by turning plastic waste into awesome products.  But as cool as all of these products are, it’s easy to get distracted. Let’s keep focused here. Why did they start this kind of business? What motivated them to engage in plastic recycling? How are they turning waste into wonders?

Meet Allen. She is only 23 years old and has received recognition from both local and international celebrities for her amazing tire recycling skills. She makes unique products, such as sandals, backpacks, and chairs. What really motivates her is giving back to her community and the goal to preserve her cultural heritage, as the craft of weaving is slowly disappearing from her country.

Then there’s Benedicta. She is a power woman of 71 years who runs a straw recycling business (yes, these are really made from straws!), teaches her skills to other women, and is present at international entrepreneurship conferences several times a year. Can you believe that when she was 23 she lost her job, didn’t have food or water for three days and didn’t see a way out? God was the one who paid her a visit in her sleep and told her to start this business. While she merely wanted an income at first, she is now passionate about both empowering women and conserving the environment.

This cool guy uses plastic bottles stuffed with polythene bags as bricks. Seriously, the Europeans can learn so much from you! Although he really likes the freedom of being an entrepreneur and that he now has the cash to “take his girl out”, what really motivates him is the desire to “edutain” the ghetto youth while leaving a clean planet for his great grandchildren.

Thanks for reading!

Group 8 – Young Entrepreneurs

Taif Sarhan, Ninsiima Eunice, Walulumba Samuel, and Amalie Schou Nielsen

Right now, we are sitting in a major traffic jam on our way to Annex, and thus this is the perfect moment to write our blog post. We have analyzed our data and written down our findings. During the last days we have come a long way in answering our research question. Those with a good memory will remember that our research deals with young entrepreneurs in the mobile phone trading business and the impact that their social network has on their business. Gathering our data was interesting as well as challenging. The phone vendors that we interviewed in the city center were often very busy as they constantly receive new customers and phone calls. Also, being in a noisy environment also doesn’t help. However, most of the interviewees were extremely friendly and they were very eager to answer our questions. Maybe the Muzungu Effect isn’t that bad after all.

We are very excited about finalizing the paper and presenting our findings to you!

Group 7 – Indians in Uganda

By Moreen, Rhoda, Miriam & Edith

What about immigrant entrepreneurs in Uganda? How do they get by? We find it interesting that there are many Asian entrepreneurs in Uganda, and therefore we are investigating how social networks influence Indian entrepreneurs. It hasn’t been the smoothest process as we faced some obstacles while being in the field and had to adapt our research question. Our initial focus was both on Indian and Chinese entrepreneurs, but we had to narrow it down as we discovered it would be too difficult to access the Chinese.

The data collection process started with two pilot interviews, followed by an attempt to do field mapping in Downtown Kampala, but as the area is too hectic for that, we decided to come back another day and just go into the stores and ask for an interview. The interviews we ended up conducting were interesting, and the Indians are so friendly – at one store we even got free bottles of water.

Overall, it has been a good learning experience and we have learned a lot about the Ugandan context. As a plus, we have a nice team and the Ugandans are welcoming people!

Group 5 – Going Corporate

Darious Nkwasibwe, Doreen Nassali, Julia Elena Taubenberger, Luise Becher. Corporate Entrepreneurship.

How do you get people to take time off work to give university students a 30-minute interview and not get anything in return? This was the first challenge we were confronted with when reaching out to potential firms to investigate their corporate culture.

Unlike many of our fellow students, who after deciding on their topic quickly took off to the nearest market and started interviewing business owners, we could not simply walk into the headquarters of a big Ugandan bank and interview the next best person we met. Due to all these obstacles, our fieldwork took some time to prepare, countless phone calls by our very persistent team member Darious, and some networking on side of our MUBS professors Sarah and Rebecca, until we were finally able to schedule our first interview!

Until now, we have gained some very interesting insights about corporate culture in financial sector companies here in Kampala. We’re investigating how a company’s culture and communication influence its innovativeness and corporate entrepreneurship. The interesting thing is – you sometimes get five different views from five different employees in one single company!

Overall, Ugandan banks highly value innovativeness and try to develop and test new services all the time, in order to keep up with their growing competition from Mobile Money by telecommunication companies and other digital services.

Group 4 – Motivations behind women entering entrepreneurship in the informal sector

by Hanae Benjnouh, Cate Nanyonjo, Ritah Muwomu

Because there will never get enough of amazing stories about strong and independent women, here is one more.

Last week, after a couple of days of brainstorming and considering the different possibilities we finally settled on researching the different motivations behind women entering entrepreneurship in the informal sector.

When walking down the streets of Kampala you notice all these different outfits women wear and they all look amazing – whether looking at the textile used or the design. We, therefore, chose to focus on tailors as these designs are art pieces made of their own hands. 

We started out by mapping out the Bugolobi market and met a few women there until this one obstacle from one of the Bugolobi market leaders who had changed her mind about us doing research there and only allowing it if we contributed financially. 

But markets are not the missing elements in the capital, so we decided to focus on Kiyembe market and proceed with our research. 

You would be surprised about the amount of inspiration these women bring you when sharing their stories. Some are educated, some are not. Others did it for the love of fashion, and others to take better care of their families. 

They all have different motivations and strive to have a better future and make their dreams come true. 

Group 3 – Ki Kati!

This is team no. 3 consisting of the team members Francis, Annika, Emuron and Marion. We dedicate our project work to private sector development, particularly the role of Hubs and Incubators in Kampala.

After going into the field and mapping the incubator scene in Kampala, we agreed to focus on The Innovation Village. Here, a variety of entrepreneurs in different sectors and company life cycle stages as well as diverse supporting programmes are to be found – A perfect starting point for our research.

Today we finished our data collection with the two last, very interesting interviews at The Innovation Village. Start-up member Joanitah made us aware of the challenges faced by new and unknown start-ups that collaborate with governmental institutions and TIV project manager Olga helped us to understand how crucial a functioning ecosystem for entrepreneurs is.

We are very pleased with the outcomes of our interviews and plan to start the analysis tomorrow.

The atmosphere and vibe in hubs like The Innovation Village is very inspiring, full of dynamic, young and bright minds. We really enjoyed collaborating with them and some of our team members are already playing with the thought of starting a business there.

Group 2 – Strong, Independent Women

We share a common interest in female empowerment and therefore, we chose to investigate female entrepreneurship. Our main interest is understanding the factors that drive women into starting their own business and what keeps them motivated.

We have chosen to concentrate our research around the blooming decorating and event management sector in Kampala. Apparently, Uganda loves to party and celebrate any occasion. The demand for decorating services has provided a number of female entrepreneurs with an income.

The decoration shops are located side by side in the Equatorial Mall, where we found all of our respondents. The women are surprisingly open and somehow flattered by our interest in hearing their life stories. And boy, are they moving! It is obvious to us that even through hardship and tragedies, these women do not give up. They attribute their strength to their God, their love for beautiful things and their passion for their business. We are looking very forward to analyzing the collected data! Our next step is to go back to the women and get even more in-depth with their stories and motivations. We are also going to add a participatory element which will strengthen our research even further.

We are enjoying Kampala and we are impressed by the warmth and kindness we meet behind every corner.

Rikke, Inga, Shamim and Juliet

Group 1 – Strong, Independent Women

Writing about the exciting, yet broad and challenging topic of the informal sector, there were many ways to approach it. After numerous discussions and a few talks with the supervisors, we chose to investigate the challenges that women entrepreneurs in the informal sector face, and which coping strategies they apply to overcome these challenges.

Initially, we started with two days in the field, mapping Nakawa and Bugulobi market, after which we decided to focus on the Nakawa market, and women selling secondhand clothing there. Today, after a lengthy meeting with the Chairman of the Nakawa market from whom we needed permission to begin our research, we conducted our first interviews with some strong and inspiring women. They had many thoughts to share with us, about the obstacles they needed to overcome. We are excited and ready to get back into the field tomorrow, to learn more about the women and gain further field research experience.

Agatha, Frida, Mari and Razaq

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