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Turning the Tide: Changing Uganda Through Positive Conversations Entrepreneurship Social Innovation 

Turning the Tide: Changing Uganda Through Positive Conversations

The most powerful thing on earth is a conversation. Most of the good things and the bad things for that matter that happen on earth are as a result of a conversation. It therefore follows that the quality of the conversations that we are having must be elevated. If we are to change anything in us and around us, the quality of our conversations must of necessity be improved.

Last week (I think), I saw a crazy Facebook post by one Entrepreneurial thought leader that Uganda is proud of.

He said the following one liner, though thoroughly profound. “38 SMS to my phone in 2 months from 1 number. About what? Wedding meetings! Eish”

Musinguzi the Doc

About 5 or 6 years back, I wrote about this phenomenon, but it keeps rising up. On my phone this morning, I have already received 3 messages from people I know not, inviting me to fund raise for their weddings.

After “I do”, What Next?

Let me say this: I am not against weddings. You can wed all you want. But my question in the same vein of what my friend Ambrose Kibuuka asked in a book, “After University What Next?”, my questions of course would be: After that wedding and those two minutes of saying, “I do”, what next? That is the most important question.

Something so unique about these wedding committees is that they have a very high degree of success. Some two guys fall in love, and call friends to fund raise for them. Their wedding budget is hefty, thousands and thousands of dollars. These guys set goals, plans, and take massive action until these budgets are met…successfully. That is laudable.

They Scatter after the Wedding

The problem of course is that you rarely find such gusto going on AFTER the couple are wedded. You never find friends, relatives, strangers and workmates meeting each week in a certain restaurant to bring to fruition an idea that could bring prosperity to the self-same couple!

The Puzzle

Why are we doing this? Why is it that if you call for a meeting to brainstorm and discuss matters on bringing ideas to life few people show up? Why is it that people sacrifice monies to fund an event whose pivotal point is two minutes of saying “I do” yet barely have time for better enterprising functions (some of which are free to attend, only that you need your intellectual capital with you when you go)?

It beats my understanding.

The trend, I am happy to report, is being reversed. In Kampala alone, week in and out, NGOs, Government Institutions, Businesses, Individual groups, Innovation Hubs and such like groups are always having sessions where people meet to talk business, enterprise, ideas and innovation. We have been bitten by the bug of meetups and believe me, I am loving it.

Participants at a past successful Education Meetup Event at The Innovation Village Kampala in group conversations

Yet I still do have a dream, that one day the wedding meetings will still be held but under totally different visions. I look for days when people will sit down to hustle over someone’s idea that is enterprising past the wedding night. That is my dream.

So if you are out there and are looking for places where discussions on entrepreneurship, job creation, ideation, Business, Personal Development, Innovation, Funding and so on are happening, I have prepared just a few for you to choose from.

1. Idea Cafe:

This is a one of a kind Meetup that brings together minds from all walks of life who are passionate about innovation in different aspects of life including: Education Financial Technology, Media, Agriculture, Climate and Diversity.

This wonderful event happens each month at The Innovation Village Kampala, which is located at Ntinda Complex, Block ‘B’, 3rd Floor. The fifth edition of Idea Café took place on Friday the 17th June 2016. The occasion had over 60 people in attendance and was graced by the following big names in entrepreneurship circles:

~Solomon King of Fundi bots.

He shared his story right from his school days, social media days to what he is doing now with Alternative Learning in Eastern Uganda. It was nothing but a total inspirational moment. At the event, Solomon is quoted to have said, “I do not first look at academic papers when hiring, they are not my first priority. I first of all talk to the job seeker to find out what they are made up of before I can look at their papers” Solomon King’s startup has already been highlithed on CNN. Check it out here.

~Mildred Apenyo of FitClique Africa:

Her startup that has already been featured on CNN (And I wonder why we cannot showcase our own stories…but that is changing with IDEAtv coming up). Mildred also talked of her own story and journey of entrepreneurship. You can check out her story on CNN here.

A different Kind of Conversation. Ugandans converging at Idea Cafe at the Innovation Village in Kampala
Mildred Apenyo waxing eloquent about her Startup at the Fifth Edition of Idea Cafe at the Innovation Village Kampala

~Jonathan Kayemba of LOGOS:

The founder of LOGOS, a firm that builds software in Uganda. He works mostly with youth. His admonition was for strong leadership in the startup world. Jonathan is quoted to have said, “A leader is a warrior, and a Warrior leads not from behind but from the front”. Another quote worth noting is, “You do not hire your spouse and peers in the business, because it is very difficult to manage someone who knows you”

The Idea Café was organized in a real Café setting with a coffee break being exactly that: A coffee break where the participants bought themselves beverages and soft drinks.

Jonathan Kayemba, Solomon King and Mildred Apenyo at Idea Cafe fifth edition at the Innovation Village Kampala
Jonathan Kayemba, Solomon King and Mildred Apenyo at Idea Cafe fifth edition at the Innovation Village Kampala

The concept of the Idea Café is to help people with three things:

  1. Pitching: Knowing how and what to say to who as you bring your idea to life
  2. Startup Hacks: Knowing what works and what no longer works
  3. Instruction and Inspiration: From those who have done it and lived to tell the tell.

So far, the Café has attracted big names in the Innovation and Entrepreneurial world including Peter Ben Hur Nyeko of Mandulis Energy, Ambrose Kibuuka Mukiibi, Author of The Innovation Epidemic, James Wire of the Wire Perspective, Douglas Karugaba of Innovex, Catherine of Tamithi, Dennis Tumuhaise of Emusawo and Nicholas Kamanzi of Yoza (Also featured on BBC…we have to style up).

What Idea Café ends up doing is creating meaningful connections. For example, Solomon King and Douglas Karugaba had never met before. Jonathan Kayemba and Peter Nyeko had never met before. Now these thought leaders are meeting and synergizing.

Part of the group discussions at a past Education Meetup at The Innovation Village Kampala
Part of the group discussions at a past Education Meetup at The Innovation Village Kampala

If you are looking for an event that in my estimation is more meaningful than a wedding meeting, you have found one in #IdeaCafeKla. The innovation Village also hosts other niche specific Meetups like Education, Climate, Media and Fintech. You can check them out on their website here.

Other Events Around Town

2. Author’s Forum Uganda:

Now in its 7th year, it is dubbed as the meeting of 400 entrepreneurial minds in Kampala. This event takes place every first Wednesday of the month at Hotel Africana in Kampala. It has grown and now has a new wing in Mbarara. We will not be surprised to see Robert Bake launching other events of the same nature across this country.

3. Imagine Me Startup Clinic:

These are hosted by non-other than Joan Mugenzi. Joan is a certified Jack Canfield Coach who is mentoring many people in their personal businesses. Joan is a consummate professional and down to earth. Her events get started on time, meeting once a month at Ibamba Restaurant in Kitante, Kampala.

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