Monday, August 11, 2014

Business in Gulu

During my time in Uganda, I got the unique opportunity to intern for two businesses in the Gulu area. Before coming to Uganda I was always curious about the trials and triumphs of doing business in Africa. I am blessed to have interned for both the Gulu Peace Garden Project and Link Printers/Music for Peace.  The most interesting aspect of working with these two organizations is experiencing the challenges they face every day and how they overcome them while still managing to get the job done.
I began my time in Gulu interning with Emmy Wokorach, founder and director of the Gulu Peace Garden Project.  GPGP is dedicated to encouraging urban gardening and the conservation of indigenous plants on the verge of extinction in the community of Gulu. During my time there, we accomplished a great deal in a short amount of time. Our tasks included creating a business plan, a brochure, business cards, and registering the organization as an official business entity with the district. With GPGP I experienced firsthand the trials local entrepreneurs face when trying to start their businesses. This challenge is especially hard considering most banks in the area won’t lend to local entrepreneurs, thus leaving them with limited access to startup capital. All things considered, this doesn’t prevent the local people from trying and eventually succeeding in starting their businesses. This experience gives me great inspiration to become an entrepreneur myself someday.
Next, I also split my time in Gulu interning for Music for Peace/ Link Printers. Music for Peace is an organization dedicated to building artistic and cultural exchanges between conflict areas in Africa. Founded by Jeff and Lindsey Opiyo, MfP is a staple of peace initiatives involving music in the Gulu community. Also attached to MfP is Link Printers, a printing business that supports many of the MfP projects. Here I spent most of my time learning from Jeff Opiyo and shadowing his every move as he taught me the ropes of how a successful business operates in northern Uganda. From Jeff, I learned how to manage employees and a heavy workload, all while dealing with power outages that cripple your business’ productivity. Jeff Opiyo is a business man with uncanny flexibility and patience, and I absolutely admire his determination to make his businesses work.

Overall, I believe the trajectory of my future business success is forever changed for the better because of my experience here in Gulu. I have learned the intangibles of being an entrepreneur and look forward to up starting my own enterprise someday!

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