The breaking sad news of the Corona Virus code named COVID-19 pandemic has affected several businesses in Uganda and the world at large. But it has not been all bad news, there have been several lessons learned over the past couple of weeks and days. Many companies are now restructuring, re-strategizing, re-skilling and finding new modes of operation that will in the long run mold and shape them into being more efficient and effective. The ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) being no exception, the downtime during the partial lockdown has gotten us thinking about more effective avenues for skilling and supporting the next generation of entrepreneurs and for furthering the reach of the innovation ecosystem.
We thought it would be important to share one such success story, as a source of hope to all those budding innovators and entrepreneurs who are left feeling bogged down and defeated by the current events.
Akatale Fresh known more commonly as “Akatale” (translated “The market”) is an app (and website) enabled grocery delivery service that eases purchasing of fresh groceries and other food items (e.g. spices and cereals). The team, led by Frank Mutaremwa, were among the second cohort of the National ICT Initiatives Support Program (NIISP) innovators assigned to the RAN Lab for incubation, NIISP being a program funded by Uganda’s Ministry of ICT and National Guidance.
Frank and his team walked through the RAN doors towards the end of November last year (2019). In the true spirit of an entrepreneur, the team threw themselves at every opportunity to engage, learn and grow- maximizing the group mentorship and one-on-one coaching sessions provided organized jointly by the RAN team and our partners United Social Ventures. When the opportunity was availed to the team to go out and study the market and their target users in February 2020, the team did not skip a beat! Who would have known that their quick response time, sturdy spirit and willingness to learn and grow would have prepared them for the season that is now? A season where public markets are places to be avoided and delivery services are no longer thought of as a luxury good but rather an emergency service.
The team’s dedication to their business, as well as to their own personal growth has manifested in the launch of their business ‘Akatale Fresh’, which is available on the play store and also on their website: http://www.akatalefresh.com/. With the recent events, many have now turned to this timely resource to order their fresh produce from market vendors in Kampala. Our Engagements and Program Coordination Officer- Natasha Kassami, recently used the application and was pleased with the quality of the product delivered. To further support the team of innovators, we encourage you to download the app or order for delivery of some products online via the website and share your feedback. It is this feedback which will further aid required iteration processes as we move forward with “Akatale” Innovation.
In closing, we would like to share some key lessons for all the entrepreneurs out there:
Lesson #1: Do not waste a ‘good’ problem.
The world is riddled with challenges. Challenges in our healthcare systems, finance systems, in the media (how can we even tell what is real and fake news anymore?) and even in the operations of our small, medium and large enterprises and organizations. What you see as a problem, someone else has chosen to see it as an opportunity! So, open your eyes to the world of possibilities!
Lesson #2: You are more creative, adaptable and resilient than you give yourself credit to be
One of the greatest lessons we have learnt during this time of disequilibrium is that as human beings, we are more creative and resilient than we think we are. In a matter of days, we have seen businesses and individuals come with solutions to adapt in order to survive. We hope you will use the ‘downtime’ to re-awaken the inherent spirit of ingenuity that lies in you.
Lesson #3: Start NOW!
This one is straight forward- in life we are presented with opportunities and challenges (which are opportunities in disguise) to help shape our growth. Seize every opportunity to learn and grow and do so effectively and IMMEDIATELY. For all the start-ups that have stalled and even gotten stuck in the iteration process and hope to start when ‘the time is right’, we remind you that ‘there is no time like the present!’ So, get the help you require and get started NOW!
With those parting words, we urge you to Stay Safe and Stay Tuned to the RAN website and social media platforms as we seek to share updates and possible events with you. Regardless of COVID-19, we are committed to supporting innovation and creativity especially because we need innovations now than ever before.
See ‘Akatale’ Innovation listed as one of the COVID-19 Quarantine Service Providers here