Dragons’ Den in the Valley

“It’s not been easy,” says Sandra, Communities for Development Co-Founder and Committe member. “But the best I think is yet to come.

The three groups of entrepreneurs look nervously toward one another: it’s show time.

Today is a one-time opportunity to pitch their startup proposals with the hope of securing crucial backing from the Communities for Development panel. You could cut the tension with a knife.

It’s like an episode of Dragons’ Den in the Valley as the next wave of Bulambuli entrepreneurs pitch their business ideas with the hope of securing backing for their startups. Nail biting stuff

“Mulembe, Wanyala Huitsa (Hello and welcome), we are Good Dreams,” begins Florence. “And we are proposing to launch a dairy business…”

The beautifully presented business proposals handed out to each of the panel were the result of months of training, hard work and endless iterations. But before forging ahead with their startups, they needed to convince the panel of the viability of their business ideas and that theirs should be supported with funds from CfD supporters. This was like an episode of Dragons’ Den.

As Good Dreams CEO Florence, ploughs ahead with her pitch, Sandra is already scrutinising the numbers and is ready with her initial questions: “So if you have someone manning your stall in Buyaga to sell the milk each day, in fact 7 days a week, how much will that person be paid?”

While trying to keep costs low, the team had overlooked the need to compensate staff members appropriately – or think about shift work to avoid overworking. With a reasonable salary included, the running costs would be affected and the profitability of their business was at stake.

Agile working: The team at Busakuya Farmer’s Association scrum to mull over their business pitch ahead of the weekend

But Florence was not to be deterred, with each question she kept her cool and came back with a considered response for each. Sandra and the rest of the Committee were visibly impressed – with a few tweaks and refinements, this business looked to have a lot of potential, with clear benefits for the wider community and jobs created for each of the members. But mostly, this force to be reckoned with of Florence and her team were undoubtedly worth investing in.

Next up, Busakuya Farmer’s Association. “We are asking for your support for a produce business,” begins Juliet. “Hiring an acre of land we will grow soya, cotton and gnuts and sell them at Buyaga Market.” An equally impressive presentation, the team had clearly thought about how the business would function and be profitable, for example proposing to grow the more lucrative crops than those traditionally planted for self-consumption.

“We were greatly inspired by Saleh’s motivational talk,” Juliet told us afterward, referring to TED-style presentation on entrepreneurship, delivered by a successful businessman, also from Bulambuli. “Previously we were not looking at things from a business perspective, sticking to what we knew about farming when we were only growing for ourselves. His insights on the importance of vision, understanding profit and lost, and unity within the team changed our mindset completely.”

“Entrepreneurs are risk-takers” – while many aspirational entrepreneurs might be able to click on a TED talk video for their motivational kick, Saleh Naminya did something amazing by bringing his story, experience and “ideas worth spreading” right to the heart of his own community

After a gruelling session going through their proposals with a fine toothcomb, the Committee were so convinced by the strength of all three pitches, they decided to award investment to each.

“I want to congratulate the teams for working so hard to get to this stage,” said Project Manager Idi, who had been mentoring the groups as they developed their proposals. “I’m so excited to see what we can achieve. Let’s see if we can’t bring these creative projects to life.”

Exhausted but elated the group celebrated their achievement – while accepting that now is when the real work begins. Far from defeated, the groups were only more motivated by the challenges they had overcome and the opportunities that lay ahead: “Now we are stronger than before. We are much better prepared to go ahead. Wanyale! (Thank you!)”

Kickstarter: newly formed startups Poverty Fighters and Good Dreams have their kick-off meeting with Project Manager Idi. Here we go…

Bulambuli Valley watch out, here come the next wave of startups ready to disrupt the status quo. Deborah Meaden would be so proud…

By Sarah Bradbury, CfD Campaigns. The 3rd and 4th saving groups in Bulambuli Community received business training and completed proposals for income generating activities over the last year. After being selected for investment by the CfD Committee, these groups will receive grants from CfD funds for 60% of their startups costs, with 40% covered by their savings. For more information, or to support our IGA projects click here.

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