Training Week

After a rather hectic weekend we headed into our final training week which was conveniently located in the conference room of the hotel we were staying in. The programme was run by Herbet who is the ICS country manager and backed up by guest speakers from relevant industries throughout the week. On Monday Herbert also gave us the news that we had all been waiting for – the companies that we would be working with over the next couple of months and who our partners would be. The companies were all from varying industries but all based around the Kampala region. So to end the suspense the companies and their partners are as follows:

REAM foods – (Selling silver fish & silver fish powder) – Jacek & Trudy
Omega Jucies – (Fruit juices) – Tom & Cyinthia
Volcano Coffee – (Coffee shop in central Kampala) – Amanda & Obra
RASTA – (Coffee Liquors) – Louisa & Peter
Arfi Jewellery – (Jewellery from banana leaves) – Annabel and Evelyn
Mushroom Tech – (Growing Mushroom and distributing mushroom seeds to local farmers) – Grace and I.

So the Mushroom industry for me which apparently is booming in Uganda at the moment so it should be exciting. Grace and I will be predominantly working on setting up a finance system for the company as well as reforming their business operations. We may also help with creating a business plan and marketing strategy but we will have a much clearer idea of what needs to be done when we visit the company for the first time next week and complete a business diagnostic. From the brief overview we received our company currently sells to 30 farmers and is hitting targets of selling a minimum of 100 packets of seeds a week. They are currently turning over approximately 1.5 Million Shillings a month – which is around £360 – but we are currently unsure how much of that is profit.

Herbert also informed us who will be with us in the home stays – us boys are together and the girls have been split up by location. This works out well for me as Grace and I are just a short taxi ride away from Mushroom Tech – although we will also be working from the CURAD incubator (Consortium of University Responsiveness to Agribusiness Development) as there might not be enough space for us in the company to work. CURAD are currently supporting my company – They work with DFID and Challenges Worldwide to identify SMEs that require assistance in growing and also the companies who will gain the most from the ICSEntrepreneur programme.

The week covered many topics that we would be utilising over the coming weeks rather than running through each day I’ll give you a quick overview of what was covered;

 Monday – Orientation and overview of the programme with Herbert & learning about our companies followed by a security talk by the superintendent from the police force.
Tuesday – George  spoke to us about business consultancy covering topics such as the consultancy cycle, strategic planning and how to conduct effective analysis of a business.
Wednesday – George was back again to discuss business operations and we discussed how to create a business plan and information was required for an effective plan. Herbert then ran us through the records that all companies much keep and why it is vital that we make sure our companies have an effective system in place – many of them do not.
Thursday – Ugandan independence day – we covered accounting and finance systems a looked at how to create a budget and accurate annual forecasts.
 Friday – Prince came and took us through Marketing & Sales – including how to create a marketing strategy and various methods on how to increase sales.

So it was a rather full on week – but we did have some time to relax. Agbas took us up a few times to a local country club which had a swimming pool and some amazing views over lake Victoria. After a few end of week drinks on Friday we moved away from the hotel on Saturday into our home stay. We are staying in Kisase – a suburb of Kampala. It’s perfect – clean and simple – and home for the next nine weeks!

I’m now really looking forward to getting stuck into the business next week and discovering how we can help them improve – hopefully after all the training and the support we have from Challenges Worldwide we will be able to help.

If you would like to see some photos please head over to www.henrycomyn.com

Until next time.

H.

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