If you’ve ever met Roy, you can confirm that he spends most of his time looking outwards. Roy is exceptional at seeing the potential connections between people, their talents and the resources at hand. What might sound like a completely random stream of ideas to most of us is to Roy the next big opportunity. Roy is gifted at connecting the dots, building collective enthusiasm, and always, always asking, “What’s next?”
With this outward focus, it’s perhaps unsurprising that Roy doesn’t talk about himself much. This week he had to though, because I cornered and questioned him for some grant applications. It was such a genuine treat that I wanted to share it with you. Roy’s personal stories explain a lot about where the concept for Imuka Ventures came from and how the company has survived and grown to impact other businesses.
Roy’s ability to pinpoint opportunity around the next corner is a quality that began early. While completing his undergraduate studies at Makerere University, Roy founded and managed several new ventures, including setting up his own video library and printer/photocopier services in one student residence. Before Mobile Money took off in Uganda, he co-founded Qute Solutions with another student, a company that allowed students to safely access funds sent by family members over the phone. Previously cash had to be physically mailed in packages on Uganda’s bus system. If you can remember this time, I’m sure you can recall the uncertainty of packages arriving safely.
Qute Solutions was launched with 300,000 Shs. and over three years made capital gains of 6 million Shs. The start-up won the Erasmus African Social Entrepreneurship Competition at Makerere and signalled the beginning of a new era for financial transfers in Uganda. Not a bad start for university students!
Roy continued to tell me about his time after school. “I came up with the idea to host a Mum and Babies Expo in Kampala. I spent a lot of time on the strategy and business structure for the event, and it garnered a lot of interest in the concept. But I struggled so much to gain financing.” Eventually Roy was able to secure an investment of 5 million Shs. to cover 50% of the budget, with the arrangement that he fundraise another 5 million Shs. With great effort, Roy leveraged this deal to raise the rest of the funds.
However two weeks before the Expo, the original investor pulled out of the deal. With a determination to continue and make the best out of the situation, Roy went forward with the event but at a much smaller scale. “I learned so much from this experience,” he told me earnestly, “I had pushed hard for something, regardless of the resources I’d started with. Come what may, I needed to make it happen.”
Roy says that his many experiences searching for opportunities, taking risks, failing and pushing forward in spite of the challenges, are what motivated him to found Imuka Ventures. “My experiences made me realize you can start something without any resources, and it will be difficult, but if you push forward it can happen.” Roy wanted to find the answers to some of the challenges he faced in his early years, and to pass the solutions on to the next generation of entrepreneurs and changemakers. And this brings us to where we are today at Imuka Ventures, making connections and building enthusiasm.
All that’s left is to ask, “What’s next?”
To find out what’s next, and to meet the entrepreneurs supported by Imuka Ventures, please come to our next Imuka Series Event: Access Opportunity is Imuka Ventures’ event-of-the-year, and will bring entrepreneurs and investors together in one space to answer each others’ questions and build strategies towards growing Uganda’s innovative and economic future. Not to miss!
-Article by Madeleine Smith, Communications Specialist at Imuka Ventures