Entrepreneur of the week; Ivan Lwanyaga

Kamusenene Investments Ltd was started in May 2009 by Ivan Lwanyaga and other young people in Kamusenene village, Kibaale District, as a construction company. However, the company made a loss of 6.3m in construction works at Rwensasi and Nkooko livestock markets due to under quoting the materials and over-estimating the number of livestock in the market per market day. This caused the company to re-evaluate: “After all this, we sat down and thought of next steps and after making a business survey, we realized that buying and selling of maize, beans, rice, groundnuts and cassava was more reliable and sustainable.” The company began trading maize with an initial inventory of 5100kg. This maize was sold at Ush 920 per kilogram. “We opened up a store in our village Kamusenene, and later Kakumiro Town Council, Mpasana and Igayaza.” By December 2012, the maize inventory had increased to 29000kg.

Ivan Lwanyaga is holds a bachelors degree in development studies of MUK, PGD in HRM UMI, Certificate in laws of LDC and several certifticates in community mobilisation, child right protection of MUK

Ivan Lwanyaga

However, the company was facing some challenges, such as working capital, means of transport, business networks and professional management skills. This is where the Mara Foundation mentorship programme was able to assist. At our third cycle matching event in October 2012, Ivan met Ted Pantone of Mango Fund. Thanks to this meeting, the business was able to secure an investment of Ush 20 million to help it grow and meet its challenges.

Ivan’s vision for the business is to build and maintain Kamusenene Investments Ltd into a professionally managed, profitable, self sustaining and socially responsible enterprise providing leading, globally recognized Engineering, Logistics and Agroprocessed products at one simplified source point.

Entrepreneur of the week; Mwesigye Prosper Mugisha and Mugulusi Ronald

Egora Ltd, a company that was started in 2011, joined the Mara Launchpad Uganda in March 2012. It was started by Mugulusi Ronald and Mwesigye Prosper Mugisha- both university students, who were using their hostel rooms as company offices.

 Mwesigye Prosper Mugisha and Mugulusi ronald, Working at the Mara Launchpad

Mwesigye Prosper Mugisha and Mugulusi Ronald, Working at the Mara Launchpad

EgoSMS, the company’s main product, is a web-based reliable and cost effective SMS application that is easily used to send bulk SMS, scheduled SMS, customized SMS and automated texts at an instant, to a large audience.

“As a growing company run by young entrepreneurs, doing business is challenging and the costs are high” says Ronald. “We lacked the technical knowledge but that was not reason enough to make us give up. It actually gave us a reason to even work harder. Seven months down the road and we have the EgoSMS of today with good growth rate. Our goal is to be the market leaders in SMS business by our third anniversary “, he explained

Egora Ltd charges between 35-20 shillings per message. These can be sent across the East African region to most of the telecom networks and the messages never expire.  Purchases can be made online using any of the major mobile payment options like MTN mobile money, Warid Pesa, Airtel money e.t.c.  Egosms application enables the client to see their message history, transaction history, uploaded files and message templates with vast amount of storage. The application is tailor made for churches, schools, meetings, multi-level marketing firms, individuals, organizations, institutions, companies and many more.

Since joining the Mara Launchpad, Egora Ltd has been able to professionalize its work. “We used to make up excuses to meet clients at their premises and restaurants since we didn’t have our own, this was affecting our operation costs in teams of transport and restaurant bills” said Mugisha. The Mara Launchpad has given us the visibility and increased on our networks through the different events hosted at the Launchpad. Explained Mugisha

Entrepreneur of the Week: Bernard Lungs

Bernard Lungs is the brains behind Charcolite Firestarter Limited, the company that was recently announced as the Mara Launch Fund’s first investment.  The company produces clean and effective fire starters as a safe, efficient and environmentally friendly alternative to the newspapers or polythene paper commonly used in Ugandan households to start fire in charcoal briquettes. Not only can it be used as a fire starter, but it can also be used for lighting!

As a graduate from our mentorship program, Bernard is indebted to Mr. Arinaitwe Rugyendo, the founder and Chief Marketing Director of Red Pepper Publications and Mr. Kirowi Suma, the Managing Director of Rwenzori Bottling Company, who were his mentors and helped sharpen his business acumen.

He started his business in 2010 with an interesting idea to turn the naturally occurring sugar in grass into ethanol.  Although this idea did not go far, it gave rise to the ingenious idea to create a fire starter that is both clean and environmentally friendly from papyrus grass!

A very ambitious entrepreneur, Bernard also has plans of expanding to produce clean and effective cooking briquettes as well.

Currently pursuing a degree in Bachelor of Commerce, his second degree, it is safe to say only greater things lie in wait for this innovative entrepreneur, watch this space!

Entrepreneur of the week; Elijah “Bee” Beesigomwe


Elijah “Bee” Beesigomwe joined our mentoring Programme in its second cycle and has been a part of the Mara Entrepreneur community ever since. He has been actively inspiring others through his story of taking the risk to quit formal employment for the difficult but rewarding task of running a business.  A Code junkie, Elijah has managed to build 3 successful web platforms that have undeniable relevance to Uganda. He lauds his mentor Mr. Raj Thakrar for the great support to his business.

“My mentor has provided valuable guidance and support and tips for enhancing our product. We were able to soft launch our service, with the help of our mentor who also became our first client.”

Successful Projects

DillEva is the convenient online shopping mall where you can shop without needing to go from store to store. You can compare prices from anywhere! When you make a purchase your order will be handled by a dedicated team that will ensure you are given world class service and come back for more!DillEva helps you improve your quality of life by making it easier for you to find quality products from the stores you love at your convenience. We help you maintain your way of life by saving you the burden and time spent shopping so that you can have more time to do the things you love. You shop online and we’ll DillEva!!

Somesha is a web and mobile application that will give disadvantaged students a chance at Education through crowd funding using Mobile and electronic micro payments. Following our launch at Garage48 in Kampala, we’re preparing to go live and change the world. Thank you for your support everyone!

Sonda is a crowd fundraising platform on the web and mobile aimed at easing the whole process involved in soliciting for and collecting funds.


End of Year Mara Keynote

Friday 7th December at The Mara Launchpad

Topic: Basic Company regulatory and compliance matters

“Regulations relevant to the life cycle of a small- to medium-sized domestic business.”

We have saved the mother of all keynotes to bring this very successful year to a close. If registering a company is one of your new year’s resolutions, if you are uncertain about issues of compliance in your company then make sure you sit in for this one.

If you have any particular questions on the topic that you want answered, please forward them by close of business on Tuesday 4th December. The speaker has been gracious enough to take early requests.

Speaker Profile

Ruth Sebatindira

LLM ( ManUK)

Managing Partner at Ligomarc Advocates


Ruth is a business lawyer. She is the founder of the firm as well as its Managing Partner. Her fourteen years’ experience spans the areas of; business deals, lender enforcement actions, commercial loans transactions and debt workouts, real estate, commercial litigation and private wealth and estate planning.

As a litigator, Ruth has handled unprecedented cases in banking and finance as well as in trademarks and drug regulation. The Firm is currently augmenting its energy and project finance practice and Ruth is heading this task.  Ruth worked as a Senior Tax Advisor with Deloitte & Touche, Kampala and with M/s Kalenge, Bwanika, Kimuli & Co. Advocates, a commercial litigation law Firm in Kampala.

Her professional memberships include; Uganda Law Society, East Africa Law Society, International Fiscal Association, Rotterdam, and International Bar Association, London.

Venue: Mara Launchpad, Ham Towers (Tuskys) Makerere, 3rd Floor

Time: 5:30-7:00pm



Innovation to Business this November/Global Entrepreneur Week (GEW)

16th November, 5:30pm at the Mara Launchpad.

Theme: “Passing it on”

An opportunity to be inspired and form critical partnerships that will benefit your business and that of another.

Sticking to the theme of this year’s Global Entrepreneur Week (GEW) which is “Passing it on” Some of the most innovative young entrepreneurs in Uganda today are going to tell you their stories of Innovation, how their dreams became reality and their contribution to the economy today.

Come join us and tell us what you make and how you can collaboratively support each other as business owners.

Presenting will be:

Davis Musinguzi of Medical Concierge and Inspire Africa Fame. Also the first winner of the Warid’s Entrepreneurship Fund.

Elijah “Bee” Beesingomwe Dilliva and $onda

Bernard Lungs of Charcolite and first beneficiary of the Mara Launch Fund Investment

Emily of Marem Business Solutions an Errands, courier and events company

Joachim Ewechu Africa Youth Fund

We shall also have 1-minute speed pitches from money-making startups in Kampala to get inspiration for your business idea’

Please come join us and be inspired by these young innovators as we celebrate Global Entrepreneur Week.

November Entrepreneur Bar

 How to monetize your application

Many Techpreneurs in Uganda have challenges when it comes to making money from apps (products). This Friday 2nd November 2012 starting from 5:30PM at Mara Launchpad during our monthly Entrepreneur Bar, The Thin Void team developers of WinSenga will lead a discussion on reliable Payment methods for developers in Uganda.

Mara Launchpad Entrepreneur Bar

This discussion will help you as a developer grow your product (App) revenue as you network and learn from fellow developers. Watch the video below about Thin Void’s Winsenga product.   

USE students’ report cards show troubled future for the holders

Taking a look at a USE school students’ report card is so painful that you are in doubt as to what their future will be. The students’ continued failure in most of their subjects is alarming. In some of the USE schools, the students barely have where to study from.

For instance, one USE school in Nakaseke District, has only two buildings – one housing three classrooms, head teacher’s office, and the staff room while the other, which is has been unroofed for six years, is almost collapsing. One wonders what kind of teaching and learning takes place in a such an environment, especially during and after rainfall, where students have to share a classroom.

In the past, the community used to work together in building schools – they made bricks, collected water and sand, among other necessary materials for putting up classroom structures for their children to learn. This is no longer the case. Parents or guardians simply sit back and start complaining about poverty in spite of the fact that they could be having untapped resources.

Sadly, many students in USE schools are themselves products of UPE schools. Many of them could have even failed their PLE exams. So it is expecting too much from these students to perform well unless a miracle happens. Their literacy and numeracy competence are already very low and may require many years to tune them in academic terms.

The students themselves lack enthusiasm in their studies because they often lack confidence and self-esteem. There is need for schools to equip USE students with tangible skills as a way of preparing them such that in case they do not make continue with their studies, they, can self-employ themselves. Motivation and inspiration is what many USE students require to rekindle their apparent diminished hopes. Schools receive text books from the Ministry of Education for mainly subjects like geography, chemistry and biology while others like agriculture, or Luganda are often left out.

In the USE schools, teacher absenteeism is common. Teachers are paid little salary yet they pay rent, educate their children and go to the same markets like the rest of Ugandans. When I was still in school, teachers absenteeism was unheard of. Teachers were always accessible by students seeking their guidance for one reason or another.

At the district level, inspectors of schools rarely visit secondary schools these days. Schools are left at the mercy of the head teachers, many of whom are also rarely at the school premises.

There have been many new districts created yet the challenging question of relating to the shortage of the human resource to run these districts remain unanswered. When Nakaseke District was curved out Luweero District, the move was not followed by manpower increment.

Therefore, this leaves many schools neither supervised nor supported by the local governments. There is no one who can be held responsible students’ failures. It is unfortunate that it appears many Ugandans do not have love for their fellow citizens as well as the country. Though Uganda’s motto is ‘For God and My Country’, many citizens do not live the import of this motto anymore.

People seem to have forgotten and is like everyone is on their own. It is true that teachers survive on a meager salary and the government should give them an increment.

However, have the teachers given their all to ensure that the poor learners in their hands improve?

Today’s generation makes teachers of tomorrow and if they are half-baked, we shall have half-baked teachers of tomorrow. Who will teach our children in the next 40 years and where does today’s responsible parent feature in all this?


Asha Najjuuko, programme manager,
Next Generation Schools

Next Generation Schools is a young Ugandan charity which partners with free secondary schools in disadvantaged rural communities in Uganda to raise educational standards through twelve key innovations. Founded by Mara Foundation and are now autonomous with an independent Board of Directors in Uganda. To read more about the work of Next Generation Schools, please visit our website www.nextgen-schools.org

Article  Source

As published in the Daily Monitor on September 3rd 2012 


Keynote Professional: Writing an Enchanting business plan to attract Investor

19th October 2012 5:30pm At The Mara Launchpad

Come join the experts from Inachee an ethical thought leadership firm providing advisory and financial services for Sub Saharan Africa. They offer free consultations and review of your business plan so come take advantage of this amazing opportunity.

Doreen K. Mwesigye, BA (Educ), Dipl (Mgt), MA

I have over 12 years of experience in private sector promotion and facilitation following my work with DHL International, Enterprise Uganda and currently my entrepreneurial role in Job Connect Limited, a leading recruitment and Business Development consultancy firm where I am the Managing Director. We are currently located in Uganda, Tanzania and Southern Sudan. Furthermore I have significant training in Business development consultancy, Business counseling; project monitoring and evaluation; and business promotion and facilitation. My key strengths which include being a team player, being highly motivated and able to work under pressure to meet your deadlines as well as exposure to modern business practices, training and skills will be on hand to help me, help you succeed.

Joseph Walusimbi, BBA (MUK), MBA, Mphil

“I am a multi-skilled professional in the areas of Marketing and Communications, Organizational Development, Strategic Planning & Implementation, Operations Management and Project Management. I have 16 years of global work experience in management roles in Operations, Commercial and External / Corporate Affairs functions of both Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) and Services industries. My career started in British American Tobacco (BAT) Uganda as a management trainee where I was exposed to the main and support functions of the tobacco industry through On the Job and Classroom Learning. I advanced to the BAT Eastern Africa regional office where I managed strategic projects spanning across a number of African countries. My career evolved and I pursued other interests in the Telecommunications industry. I further pursued interests in the Financial Services industry where I headed commercial and corporate affairs functions before heading back into telecommunications where I managed commercial functions and organization-wide strategic projects

History of Katale ka Messe Secondary School

Katale Ka Messe Secondary School

Katale Kamesse Secondary School is being supported in Mara Foundation’s Charity Date Auction on 8th June. It is a partner school of ‘Next Generation Schools’, an independent NGO founded by Mara Foundation. This post was written by Asha Najjuuko, who heads Next Generation Schools.

Taking a walk in Katale ka Messe village (meaning “market for rats” in Luganda), one can expect to see two or three huge rats crossing the footpaths from and to nowhere after the population has grown and people have started encroaching on these creatures homes.

As told by one of the teachers in Katale ka Messe Secondary School, the rats are seen day by day because people are becoming more every day that passes. “I had never seen such huge and many rats my entire life until I came to teach here.”

In 2009 when President Yoweri Museveni visited Katale ka Messe village, he was moved by the efforts of the community to educate their students up to secondary level. Parents told him that previously, after completion of primary level, their children trekked long distances to attend a better secondary school. So in 2006, the parents in the community of Katale ka Messe founded a new secondary school which had only one teacher teaching all the subjects.

The president donated 50 million shillings to improve the new found school. The money was used to start on the construction of the current incomplete structures which can be seen on the school compound.

Located deep in Nakaseke District, Katale ka Messe is a mixed day government-aided Universal Secondary School. The school was registered in 2009 and is in the process of getting an exam centre number. However, the Head Teacher of the school is confident that the process will be made easier when the incomplete block which will include an examination hall is completed. This will also favour his dream of changing the school name to Katale Modern Secondary School, which will attract more students; of course no one would wish to have their certificate bearing the name “Katale ka Messe”, forever to be associated with rats!

The school has an incomplete but roofed 3 classroom block and a small 2 roomed office with walls not plastered and floors not cemented. One room serves as the Head Teacher’s office and the other as the staffroom. The teachers however also use the tree shades in the school compound since the rooms are too small to accommodate all of them in a gathering. The school has another incomplete four classroom block within which 2 classrooms double as a hall. Currently S.4 students sit in an outside shade which means they can’t study if it rains. The school does not have any laboratory; it has a makeshift kitchen and canteen which are seldom opened.

The school has 10 acres of land although it is currently using only 2 acres; it has no leveled play ground, and has a small compound area. On half an acre the school is doing mixed crop farming and has planted maize, matooke, beans and cassava. The school has the capacity to utilise more land for increased income.

The school shares a water source – a valley dam – with the community and it is 2kms away from the school.

You may help to support the development of Katale Kamesse Secondary School by getting involved in our Charity Date Auction on 8th June. Check it out on Facebook.