Entrepreneur of the Week; Kajura Allan

In early 2010 with an interest and passion in investment, particularly in stocks, our Entrepreneur of the Week Kajura Allan decided to start a company that invests in local securities. Allan asked a couple of friends to pool resources that could be invested in different securities through his Vision 5 Company.

Vision 5 invests in securities both in the Uganda Securities Exchange and Nairobi Stock exchange. The company holds securities in many listed companies in different sectors such as New vision ltd, Stanbic Bank, Bank of Baroda, National Insurance Corporation, East Africa Breweries Ltd, Jubilee Insurance, Safaricom, Kenya  Re, Carbacid Kenya Etc The company in return gains from the dividends and capital gains from the investments.

The company also owns Small Enterprises SME’s that creates extra cash flow for its investments. The company has bought an internet cafe, laundry Service Company among others.

Through the Mara Foundation’s one-on-one mentorship programme, Allan was able to meet Richard Byarugaba Chief Executive Officer of National Social Security Fund, who showed him how to create systems and checks to follow investments and employees.

Allan Kajura  with Richard Byarugaba at the One-On-One mentorship matching event

Allan Kajura with Richard Byarugaba at the One-On-One mentorship matching event

Vision 5 is growing into an investment holding company of Small Medium Enterprises SME’s that employs and impacts many youths through East Africa. They hope to invest in securities listed on The Mauritian Stock Exchange and Johannesburg Stock Exchange in the near future.

Entrepreneur of the Week;Solomon Nsereko

This week’s entrepreneur of the week is Solomon Nsereko, from Research Moguls.

Solomon Nsereko at the One-On-One Mentorship matching event in 2010

Solomon Nsereko at the One-On-One Mentorship matching event in 2010

Solomon is an alumnus from the Mara Foundation One-on-One Mentorship Program and a current member of the Mara Launchpad.

Together with Daphne Byonabye, a friend of his, he started the business in August 2007. They started out as a purely research consultancy, operating mainly as a briefcase entity, but later developed to include Monitoring and Evaluation of Small to Medium sized entities with a regional Associate consultant database.

Solomon joined the Mara Entrepreneur Mentorship program in its first cycle in 2010 with Mr. Erastus Kibungu, the Executive Director of TechnoServe, as his mentor.

“The event was very successful and I am glad that I got Solomon to mentor. I want to see him succeed and hope that he will benefit from my experience as a management and private sector development consultant,” Said Mr. Erastus Kibungu

He joined the program in order to identify the specific source of the problems affecting the firm, with the help of a mentor. He also hoped to identify avenues to increase incomes and on the advice from his mentor on expanding their scope of work, they have already received potential business.

He also sought a mentor in order to set up internal operational structures and are currently in the process of searching for people to fill at least two places.

 Having a mentor introduced him to a few simple but important things to consider when going into consultancy.

His mentor also showed him the proper setup and attitude he would need in order to thrive and last in the industry. “The client begins evaluating you, your ability to deliver and what price is acceptable, right from the entrance of your business, so keep a professional yet cordial environment amongst your staff and the way you work.” remarked Solomon.

Solomon was also encouraged by Mr. Erastus because his story of setting up in Uganda also had undertones of a humble, hotel room-coffee shop meetings and they are now a force to reckon with.

“Erastus also introduced me to client call back, meetings with clients outside the office and this has led to repeat business at times with higher profit margins” said Solomon.

In addition, through the mentorship program, they were able to meet other mentees who have helped them in regards to contacts (for example Blegscope).

From mentioning that they were mentees with the Mara Foundation on their facebook page, they received TOR from the Uganda National Association of Building and Civil Engineering Contractors (UNABCEC).

With its offices at the Mara Launchpad, Research Moguls, which was only based in Kampala stretched out its area of operation to include Rwanda by opening offices in Kigali at the end of 2012.

Mara BizHack Dial in Conversation From Silicon Valley

We will be hearing direct from a Silicon Valley investor, Shirish Patel, about how to attract venture capital funding for your idea.

Born in Soroti, Shirish Patel is a second generation Ugandan of Indian descent, who lived in Mbale, Masaka and Kampala. In 1969, he completed his A’levels from Kololo Senior Secondary School where he studied Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics. He later left for higher education in the UK where he studied at the University of Southampton (Electronic Engineering) and the University of Manchester (Computer Science).

Shirish Patel

Shirish Patel

Fast forward a couple of years and Shirish is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and professional CEO with multiple start-up company experience spanning over twenty five years. His investment and operation experience with tier one venture firms in the valley has given him the ability to transform a group of young founders into disciplined, process-driven and result-oriented entrepreneurs with a real company.

He has specialty in giving form and growing start-up companies as well as management of start-ups that have run into difficulties.
He also recently revived his technical skills and can now add app-developer to his long list of skills. His domain expertise is in networking/telecom infrastructure, system and software, smart-phone mobile apps and Web 2.0.

On Saturday 9th February at 5:30pm, the Mara BizHack has the pleasure of having this skilled professional share with the young and ambitious competitors his experience in Silicon Valley. He will also give them the necessary tips they’ll need from his vast experience with start-ups on how to attract venture funding for your idea. Also during the weekend long event, We will have a bunch of great mentors on board to give you the best chance of success, including techies Thoughtworks, Lumjo Consultants, Steven Musoke, Richard Zulu, Evelyn Namara – finance experts from KPMG – and branding experts SMS Media, Media Analyst, An Xiao Studio, Davis Musinguzi, Daniel Stern, and Michael Niyitegeka.

All this is made possible by our sponsors, Warid Telecom and Sheraton Kampala Hotel, to whom we are indebted.

Entrepreneur of the week; Joseph Rwabose

Joseph Rwabose is the CEO and founder of Pifothutin Branding, a company that deals in branding and printing of T-shirts.

Joseph Rwabose, CEO and founder of Pifothutin Branding

Joseph Rwabose, CEO and founder Pifothutin Branding

After a printing job went well in 2008, Joseph decided to use the money earned from that to professionalize his business by registering and opening a bank account. In January 2009, with only his personal savings and the earnings from the print job the previous year, he managed to register the company, open a company bank account, print out a couple of business cards and pay up 5 months rent!! He has not looked back since then!

He joined the Mara Entrepreneur Mentorship program in 2010 for a number of reasons. Some of these were because he needed a mentor to analytically go through his business plan/concepts and point out what may or may not be working. He also wanted to obtain strategic business contacts and meet and learn business growth skills from a seasoned entrepreneur.

This seasoned entrepreneur turned out to be the Managing Director of Select Garments, Mr. Robert Ahimbisibwe, who was his Mentor and taught him how to pragmatically separate company finances from personal finances; Pifothutin Branding’s revenues increased by 20% as a result. Joseph’s improved skills enabled the company to grow financially and employ two more staff members.

Some of Pifothutin Branding Ltd  products

Some of Pifothutin Branding Ltd products

“I joined the mentorship program because I wanted to learn how to raise capital without procuring a bank loan,” says Joseph. “Robert greatly helped point me in the direction in this regard.” He adds.

Mr. Ahimbisibwe also taught Joseph how to approach the relevant stakeholders in the industry like Cotton Development Organization, Uganda Export Promotion Board among others, for information and support. These contacts put Pifothutin Branding in touch with a wider client base thereby doubling their annual revenue.

Today, Pifothutin Branding is on the fast track to having a turnover of Shs100million by 31st December 2013. They also plan on moving into a bigger production house and employing five more employees by the end of the year.