Monday November 26, 2018 saw yet another team from Makerere University School of Public Health-ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) drive up to Northern Uganda. It was another opportunity to engage with the Pabbo sub-county community members specifically equipping them with Business Modeling, Communication and Marketing skills.  Mr. Kisembo, Pabbo Community sub- county chief while welcoming the RAN team to the sub-county noted that ‘the world is looking towards sustainable development goals and the elements of technology are very critical and prominent thus the need for us all to further embrace and support innovation’. He added sharing the sub-county’s Vision as ‘Prosperous Society by 2030’ noting that this vision aligns with the Vision 2040. In his remarks, he said, ‘to uplift the middle income status, we need every body to participate and be engaged in all development related activities. Pabbo sub-county is very receptive especially with development related issues, so I urge all of you here present for the training to further freely generate and share knowledge’.  ‘This Community Radio listenership is big, now, Announcements-instead of going up to the districts to place our announcements, we use this community radio near us’, he added. He therefore argued all members present to work harder in order to further support the radio stations in one way or another thus keeping them operational.

Mr. Kisembo also requested for a report about the community radio operations to be submitted so that he and team can further discuss the sustainability of this community radio in the upcoming budgeting meetings. ‘We need to allocate however little cash we can to support this initiative’, he noted. ‘The users of these community radio stations are the communities, so, as we execute our duties, we need to support the radios for growth and development too.  If other people are sacrificing to help us, why shouldn’t we embrace the same and support the efforts further-we can champion working with these initiatives’, he said. Such initiatives including works we undertake in Public Planning Management are very critical because these are community reforms. He thanked partners and the Government of Uganda for the continued support to the communities but also for creating an enabling environment for such community initiatives to blossom. ‘We continuously need to closely work together to harness and benefit from both technical and social capacities for the benefit of the communities in which we live and serve. You people can do more than what you are doing now’, Mr. Kisembo challenged participants.  

Michael Katagaya, Co-founder Evidence and Methods Lab worked together with Harriet Adong, RAN Communications Manager and Joseph Mukaawa, RAN Multimedia Developer to deliver this training. Michael emphasized the fact that it is up to you the innovator or marketer of a certain product to make sure that people understand what you are offering. ‘Perception as a Social Enterprise is important’ he noted.  

Michael also guided participants through identifying why the community thinks that the community radio is free of charge? They listed the following;

  • The name-community radio
  • As a result from the long insurgency period in northern Uganda, communities are used to free things.
  • Location at the sub-county too can easily pass on a message that the radio is a free service (We might needs to place the radio in a more open and accessible but secure place).

Michael also tasked the training participants to come up with strategies or solutions to address the above challenges or even get the community radio to make some more money. These included the following;

  • Explore  taking advantage of the existing community groups to partner and further support the community radios
  • Engage in radio festivals to network and later coin relationships and collaborations towards further supporting the community radios.
  • Relocate the community radio from the sub-county premises etc.  

‘You need to have the ‘Staying Power’, ability to remain operational in the business while expressing that persistence to grow even if you started small’, Michael shared. You need to have the product up and running then sensitize the communities about its existence and benefits too, he added. It is always helpful for budding entrepreneurs to be aware of what wealth you have so that you offer that? Participants were also reminded that in business it is important that the business entrepreneur knows who his or her customers are. For this case, participants identified some of their customers to include; listeners, the business community especially those dealing in electronics and government agencies including the Police among others.

The other key question participants responded to was; what can this radio give to the community? They listed the following; Entertainment, Spiritual Programs/ Nourishment, Advertisements, Health Programs, Early Warning/ Awareness, News/ Source of information, Road Safety awareness, help to reach more people, Promotion of culture and Property recovery among others. In business we must set targets and strategize the best ways possible to achieve.

Participants also engaged in discussions about how to generate more money from Business specifically referring to the business of the community radio. The following were shared;

  • Freenum Model involving initially giving the communities a free service then charge them next time.
  • Brokerage-every product we sell through our radio, we pay you the owner of this product, give the product owner a password so that you give them a service free of charge or even give them the service  at a subsidized prize
  • Offering scheduled and charged Studio Tours
  • Placing announcements e.g. lost and found items, death announcements etc.
  • Greeting cards
  • Birthday messages

To usher in the Communication Branding and Marketing session, Harriet Adong emphasized the need for a Communications Strategy to guide realization of business objectives. This was also an opportunity for participants to engage in hands-on activities depicting internal and external communication, the power and effectiveness of digital communication, the importance of keeping and updating a calendar of events among others. While marketing your products, it is important that you also take note of Customer Segmentation; Your existing and potential customers, characterized by their ‘needs’. Try to perform more successfully than your competitors. Targeting and positioning; Target the most profitable customers and position yourself for them to actually see and embrace you. Show your strengths and match them to the needs of the customers you want to target. Promotional Tactics-Community Groups/Meetings, Advertising, exhibitions, public relations, digital marketing etc. The need to limit your activities to those methods you think will work best with your target market, to avoid spreading your budget too thinly. Monitoring and Evaluation; see how your strategy or Community Radio is performing in practice, it can also help inform your future marketing strategy (Use Questionnaires, FGDs or observation etc.) Marketing Plan; this plan should be constantly reviewed and, if necessary, updated so you can respond quickly to changes in customer needs and attitudes in your industry and in the broader economic climate. This session was concluded with the saying ‘Let the World Know what you are doing so that it is meaningful…’

Mr. Kisembo, Chief Pabbo sub-county while closing this training urged participants to each pick one or two things from the training and begin to implement at his or her home for the benefit of our communities. We all need to create contacts for future engagements. He thanked the trainers for all the efforts directed towards supporting Pabbo sub-county local government. ‘Come again so that we collaborate and work together if we have to develop our nation’ he pledged.

Ms. Millie Laker, Town Clerk Pabbo sub-county also thanks all the training participants for committing their time and knowledge towards supporting the community radio.This is the continuity of RAN in this community, I trust them, and I will call them back to come sensitize the community at large on Customer Care’ she said. The Administration and other challenges currently being faced by this community radio will also be addressed. When you go out to the communities, share what you have learned here. Be open to the Communities that work is going on to restore the radio so that we avoid scenarios like the earlier planned youth strike because the community radio is off’ she added. She requested the RAN team to send greetings to entire RAN, Makerere University and Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS) fraternity requesting that the team should come again and offer additional skills/capacity training to the community members for growth and development.