On the Home Straight in Uganda

by Mad33

Mad, Clare and Joel Uganda
Me, Clare and Joel

So the time has come for us Brits to say goodbye to the Pearl of Africa, and for the Ugandans to head home and back to normality. Our last two weeks have been very busy, finishing up some of the plans and documents we’ve all been making for our businesses, and going through the debrief processes.

Penultimate week

Naira and I spent the penultimate week working independently, as our business owner was otherwise engaged with his family life and many other projects. Entrepreneurs here definitely keep themselves busy! So, we finally edited the content of the website. It’s not amazing, but at least it now has up to date information, so will be useful for any customers searching Waste Masters online. We printed the new promotional materials, and put together a final dossier of work to hand over to the client. We also spent a day at Afribanana, conducting Business Diagnostics on potential SMEs. So the next cohort might be working with ladies who make banana paper bags and jewellery, or others who make cooking briquettes from banana stems and recycled dry waste. Zac had also organised for us all to visit the Coca-Cola bottling factory one morning, where it was interesting to see efficiency in action here in Kampala!

On Friday night a few of us treated ourselves to an expat night out at Sky Lounge, to celebrate our Team Leader being offered a Project Co-ordinator role here for another five months! Of course, we were all well behaved and safely tucked up in our host home beds by 11pm.

Penultimate weekend

Our final team meeting and CMI training session on Saturday was short and sweet, and afterwards I enjoyed a dip in the pool at Nob View Hotel, and a nice relax.

On Sunday, Amy and I went to the morning ceremony at the Baha’i Centre for Worship. Inside the temple, high on the hill, as the rain absolutely tipped it down outside, we listened to readings and chants in Luganda and English. The readings were not only taken from the Baha’i Holy Scriptures, but also the Qu’ran, Torah and Buddhist writings. Afterwards, we enjoyed a Q & A session with the most mini cup of coffee. The local Baha’i group is typically international, with North Americans, Iranians, an Indian lady, and some Eritreans in the mix. It was interesting to learn more about the Baha’i outlook on life, and their quest for unity throughout the world. This would include having a universal language to facilitate global understanding, which has not yet been ‘officially declared’. Odds are on English to win it, though I’m sure there are many people who would begrudge that being so.

Uganda Queueing up for lunch
Queueing up for lunch

In the afternoon we were further treated to a last big lunch, at Heini’s host family’s home in Kyaliwajjala (try reading that one out loud – the “ky” is “ch”). Rebecca was the lovely lady who took us to the Introduction Ceremony some weeks back. She put on an amazing spread – probably the best meal I’ve had here through the sheer variety (all the vegetables!!) – and we enjoyed sharing it with her sons and other church associates. The church’s motive was to encourage some of us to come back in the future and volunteer as teachers at their school, in exchange for board and lodging at the pastor’s house. Anyone interested, just get in touch!



Final week

Naira Hard at work, Uganda
Naira Hard at work, Ugand

The final week was all about dotting the ‘i’s and crossing the ‘t’s. Naira and I spent Tuesday calling and messages customers to thank them for their support on the Fifth anniversary of the company. It was a pleasure to hear positive feedback from them all. We also had a great meeting with Chrispin, wherein we handed over all of our work and set him up on Challenges Marketplace.

The Marketplace is an online platform, set up by Challenges Worldwide, that connects SMEs in developing countries with mentors, donors and investors. Over the last 15 years, CWW kept seeing that the most common problems stopping the correct external support and investment reaching these smaller enterprises was high engagement costs, lack of reliable information and unaffordable support services. They are now looking to address this with this simple, low cost and transparent technology platform, which allows SMEs to profile their company and chart progress over time by submitting monthly reports of their financials, KPIs and operations. From this, businesses should then be able to access the vital support and investment needed to grow.

On Wednesday, we had a debrief day at CURAD, during which we reflected on the impact we have had on the businesses, and the resulting positive impact this will have on the local community. For example, many of the business our team consulted for were agribusinesses, which support farmers with training and resources, and promote the value chain within Uganda. Others supported disabled women, or funded adjoining charities. Our contribution to Waste Masters’ marketing will allow them to expand their customer base, and when they grow they will be able to achieve their long-term goal of running the recycling plant outside Kampala, which will contribute to making the city cleaner and greener. It’s the small things too: just by being here, Naira and I have made Chrispin concentrate more on his business, and helped him organise his future plans, so that they might run that little bit smoother.

Unfortunately for me, I spent the debrief day vomiting, and then a joyous evening at Abii Clinic being tested on. Although at the time I wasn’t laughing, on reflection my clinic experience was hilarious. Learning to breathe, laugh and move on is essential for anyone wanting to live here. So despite my pain and tears, Doctor Nicholas seemed to think the appointment was a good opportunity to network (apparently I’m coming back in five years to do business with him) and preach (both him and the phlebotomist tried to convert me to become Born Again). Anyway, fortunately for me it’s nothing some antibiotics and a lot of sleep won’t sort, so I’ve been quite chilled for the last couple of day.

Tonight Challenges Worldwide is throwing a final goodbye party for the host families and business owners. As I write, I’m sitting in the beautiful gardens of Capitol Palace Hotel, basking in the Ugandan sunshine for one last afternoon. Although I’m so ready to go home, and already excited about getting stuck in to new projects in the UK, I am going to miss this crazy country! I’ve laughed and I’ve cried, sometimes at the same time. Although I never got to see a pig on a boda boda, I have experienced something new every day, overcome numerous barriers and met some amazing people!

To see some Changemaker stories from the last two years please visit our Blog