About Mara Foundation

Mara Foundation is the non-profit social enterprise for emerging African entrepreneurs. We believe passionately that Africa has a bright future of innovation, prosperity and global relevance, which is why we support young entrepreneurs who are at the forefront of this journey.

Affordable Office Space!!

Are you freshly out of school and are seated on a great business idea? Have you been formally employed for the past couple of years and want to break out on your own? Do you lack the proper resources or opportunity to do so?
A great number of us today fall into either one of these categories. We either lack the resources or simply are afraid to start out on our own because of the risks involved, or both!

Others yet, dared to start their own businesses but are struggling to survive because some of the basic principals were over-looked at the infant stages of the business formation.
The Mara Foundation exists to assist and support potential and existing entrepreneurs.
It does this in various ways, one of which is the Mara Launchpad.

As the base for growing business, the Mara Launchpad provides different packages of affordable work space. The packages are entirely dependent on the needs of the entrepreneur. These are the Main Space, Innovation Center and the Private units.

Office Space

The facilities come with a couple of bonuses like a Boardroom where meetings can be held, a receptionist and Wi-Fi internet! All these help you transform a business previously run and operated from your bedroom, to a more professional and competitive business!

Office Space.jpg2

Office Space.jpg3
As the base for growing business, the Mara Launchpad not only provides shared office space and an environment filled with entrepreneurs buzzing with ideas and enthusiasm, but as part of the Mara Foundation, the Mara Launchpad is absolutely dedicated to the growth of the entrepreneurial community!

Entrepreneurs are given the incredible opportunity to interact with each other, through the different formal and informal events regularly held. The entrepreneur-to-entrepreneur experiences shared help them learn from each other and ultimately, grow together, beyond their expectations!

Office Space.jpg4

We take a keen interest in each of the businesses housed at the Launchpad and look for ways to add value to the entrepreneurs by attaching them to a mentor to provide the necessary guidance, where need be. We also hold different training programs that will broaden the thinking of the entrepreneur as to what skills and tools he/she will need to get that business idea into reality and make it successful!


To rent space or for more information on some of our programs, please come visit us, on the 3rd floor of Ham Towers, Makerere Hill Road.

We look forward to helping you get your business from where it is to where you want it to be, and beyond!!


“I’ve Graduated, What Next?”


Only 2 days left to the Mara Foundation’s “I’VE GRADUATED WHAT, NEXT!” Event at the Mara Launchpad, 3rd Floor Ham Towers, Makerere Hill Road!!

Come learn a thing or two from young entrepreneurs that dared to start their own businesses…AND MADE IT!! In addition, come support young growing businesses exhibiting their products and services!!

The event kicks off at 9AM and goes till 6PM! Entrance is free of charge!!

Bring a friend!!

“I’ve Graduated, What Next?” Event!!!

Have you just finished the years and years of education and are wondering what comes next? Are you a young aspiring entrepreneur but don’t know how to get started? Then this event is just for you!! Not only will it give various entrepreneurs a platform to showcase their products and services, but the success stories of a couple of young entrepreneurs who dared to start their own businesses after school will inspire you to start one yourself! You will also listen to tips and tricks you’ll need to get started!
  The event will be held at the Mara Launchpad on the 3rd floor of Ham Towers, Makerere Hill Road and starts at 9am and will run till 6pm.
  Entrepreneurs, Students, Parents, Graduates…EVERYONE, Come Be Inspired!!

Entrepreneur of the Week; Carol Mugabi

What better way to celebrate Women’s day than to have a strong woman as our Entrepreneur of the week! Carol Mugabi is an Alumnus of the Mara Foundation One on One mentorship program where she was mentored by Inachee’s Joseph Walusimbi in the second cycle.

Carol Mugabi and her mentor Joseph Walusimbi of Inachee

Carol Mugabi and her mentor Joseph Walusimbi of Inachee

At the time, Carol was looking for ways to get her business, Café Au Lait, off the ground. Joseph helped her develop a streamlined business proposal to be presented to a selected list of potential investors. From these, she managed to get an investment of 4 million shillings. She re-invested this money into her already established business in order to get it to run profitably so that she could get enough money to eventually start Café Au Lait.

Her interactions with Joseph Walusimbi also helped get her introduced to  Mr. Robert Nsibirwa of the Africa Coffee Academy. Mr. Nsibirwa was interested in opening L’Or Noir, a coffee shop. He offered Carol the opportunity to it set up. She was therefore in charge of everything to do with opening and running the café. “Having a mentor helped a lot by taking the business from paper (the proposals and cash flows) to reality” says Carol. On top of the Mara Foundation One on One mentorship, her experience at Good African Coffee helped her greatly to achieve this.

Carol prides herself with getting L’Or Noir to break even within its first three months!! In addition, her barista skills have been greatly improved. She was also making all the sandwiches, milkshakes, smoothies, juices and fast foods that are served at the café.

Her dream to open Café Au Lait still lives and is using this experience to learn as much as she can for the future. She continues to search for investors and with these achievements and experience, the future looks very promising for her!

Mara Foundation a  non-profit social enterprise for emerging African entrepreneurs.

Mara Foundation a non-profit social enterprise for emerging African entrepreneurs.

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.

Entrepreneur of the week: Isaac Oboth

Media256 Ltd was started in 2010 by Isaac Oboth. The big idea to set up a multimedia business hit him a couple of days to his High School Prom. “Everyone was geared up to look their very best for the last memorable event of their time in school.” Isaac explained.  What better time could there be to produce an alumni album than the day of the Prom? The catch was, it had to be affordable. The easiest way to ensure this  happened was to cut out the huge cost of printing the photographs. And that’s when he got a eureka moment: a digital alumni album, with appropriate background music – a cheaper, yet more dynamic album.  At that time, Isaac did not possess the technical skills needed to do the job, so he contracted a company to do the work. According to Isaac the product was terrible, mainly because of lousy editing. Despite this fact, the digital album still sold out. Isaac saw a demand for a product and a frustrated customer who still paid. That’s when he decided to get into the multimedia business.

Isaac Oboth at work

Isaac Oboth at work

Completely self-taught, Isaac started by watching online video tutorials for hours on end at a local internet café and ultimately founded Media 256, a film and video production company. Mara Foundation’s one-on-one mentorship programme, in which Isaac was a mentee in its first cycle, got him a mentor, Simon Kaheru, who has not only offered priceless advice but has also directly brought him contracts. Media 256 was also one of Mara Launchpad’s earliest clients, which has opened up so many doors: “I have been able to meet clients for editing sessions, and significantly improve my turnaround time. I was also able to buy my first consignment of equipment through the contacts I made at the Mara Launchpad. The business club meetings have been on topics relevant to my business, the advice from which has been priceless thus far.”

In his quest to reinvent the multimedia business in Uganda, Isaac at one point lobbied Coca-Cola to produce video for them after seeing the poor quality of their existing videos by an established agency. “I offered them free work in exchange for being evaluated. They agreed.” explained Isaac.  When they saw his finished work, they ultimately contracted Media 256 for future work. That was Media 256 Ltd’s second big break. In between Media 256 also produced videos for weddings, music, NGO documentaries, and others.

Isaac has been recognised with a number of awards for his work, like Anzisha Prize for Young Entrepreneurs and the Young Achievers Award for Film and Television. At 23, Isaac currently lectures at the Ugandan School of Design and employs two exceptional students from his class. Media 256 currently employs 12 people. It has a client list that includes UNDP, Coca Cola, USAID, Mara Foundation, African Leadership Academy, Ethiopian Commodities Exchange, Marie Stopes International and Mukwano.

Mara Foundation, Next Generation Documentary. a product of Media 256 Ltd 

Media 256 is quickly becoming a force to reckon with in the film space. With blue chip clients from across the continent, this young company is already developing a footprint across Africa. The mission of Media 256 is to revolutionize the multimedia industry in Uganda and ultimately Africa. The benchmark is to be world-class: “It’s our dream at Media 256 to someday have film produced from Africa, playing on the same stage as that produced from the biggest and best studios from around the world.”

Media 256 Team working at the Mara Launchpad

Media 256 Team working at the Mara Launchpad