And so it began…

Hi everyone!

My name is Heini, a recent graduate in English with work experience in business support services. I am absolutely delighted to be taking part in the ICS Entrepreneur programme in Uganda from March to June of this year. I look forward to learning a lot about how business works in developing countries, improving my skill set and being able to use my skills to help businesses grow.

In this first blog post I will give you a brief summary of what we have been up to over the past two weeks here in Uganda.

During the first week we finally got to meet our fabulous Team Leaders ‘Nana’ Anna, Katherine, Patience and Thomas, our Ugandan counterparts and completed our in-country training.  The week was packed with presentations from a number of professionals and activities on a variety of topics including Business Planning and Operations, Sales and Marketing, and Finance.

Magic and Maria presenting during training (photo credit: Zac).
Magic and Maria presenting during training (Photo credit: Zac).

As well as all the hard work we would do ‘energiser’ games to revamp our minds and to get to know each other a little better.

Maria, Jess, Joel, Patrick and Naira enjoying some energising fun! (Photo credit: Zac)
Maria, Jess, Joel, Patrick and Naira enjoying some energising fun! (Photo credit: Zac)

At the end of the week we were put into our pairs, and I found out that I would be working with Clare, who has a BA in Community Development and Social Work. We will be working with a business that processes and retails its own coffee grounds and beans, and also runs a newly-established café. I for one am absolutely delighted with this turn of events – getting to spend the next eight weeks drinking coffee (and working super hard)!

There is a big cohort of us here this time round, with 12 groups working with businesses in a variety of different industries, including:

  • Coffee processing
  • Banana wine, juice and paper production
  • Honey production
  • Curry Powder manufacturing
  • Waste management
  • Chicken breeding
  • Solar lamp manufacturing

I will hopefully get the opportunity to visit some of the businesses over the next few weeks to give more of an insight in this blog.

We moved in with our host families on Good Friday, spending the long weekend with them settling in. I was super excited to find four chickens in our garden that I was eager to befriend, but it turns out that my potential new mates were going to be a highlight of our Easter Sunday lunch. I am living with a wonderful lady and her four sons who are all around our age, who have all been so welcoming and kind.

Clare and me with our host mum on Easter Sunday.
Clare and me with our host mum on Easter Sunday.

During the second week, we visited Afri-Banana and CURAD, two incubators that work with Challenges Worldwide. It was fantastic being able to learn more about the businesses (and their products) that are supported by the incubators and Challenges.

The crew at Afri-Banana (Photo credit: Sophie).
The crew at Afri-Banana (Photo credit: Sophie).

We also got the chance to spend some time in the city and be immersed in the absolute bedlam that is Kampala. I mean, just look at one of its taxi parks:

IMG_20150409_165355269_HDR

To close, here’s my Word of the Week: ‘Muzungu’, which means white person. Although according to Wikipedia, the source of all knowledge, the etymology of the word reveals that it means something more like “someone who roams around aimlessly”… How apt in chaotic Kampala.

I don’t think I will ever get tired of the lovely children running up to me and shouting ‘Hi Muzungu!’, even if it is about a hundred times a day…

More blogging coming your way soon now that we’ve got internet sorted (more or less…)

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