Nakayenze, winner of Rising Woman, advice on the added value of coffee
Seven years ago, Nakayenze set out to change the lives of coffee farmers in the hills of Sironko district. The social, economic, religious and cultural difficulties faced by rural women in her village compelled her to establish Kalaa Mugoosi Women Empowerment Limited’.
At 22, Sandra ventures into a profession mostly occupied by men. Today, she runs one of Sironko’s most successful coffee businesses.
What prompted you to grow coffee?
In the footsteps of Mount Elgon, I have witnessed the effects of child marriage, early pregnancy, domestic violence, gender discrimination, poverty and lack of economic opportunity inflicted on women. I worried about what my future would look like. After getting my Bachelor of Education from Kyambogo University, my attempts to find formal employment were not successful.
Four women and I started growing Arabica coffee. We then formed a group called Kalaamugosi Women Empowerment to counter the economic, social and cultural challenges we were facing. Kalaamugosi is a lugisu word loosely translated as cutting the cords or overcoming difficulties.
In 2018, Kalaamugosi registered as a business working with 2,000 coffee growers, 32 lead growers and two agronomists. We offer free training on agricultural best practices, coffee planting, coffee processing and quality control.
We also prioritize women’s empowerment training. We work with Great Lakes Company and buy coffee from our farmers at a very good price and give them bonuses. We also provide agricultural inputs and coffee processing equipment to our farmers and support rural women’s savings groups.
We source coffee, process, roast and package it as Zesui Dream Coffee, certified by the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) and distributed nationwide.
How did you experience the Rising Woman contest?
It gave me a platform to share my story with many people. This program has exposed me to many meaningful networks such as entrepreneurs who are doing their best to bring their dreams to life.
Thinking back to your early days, has the Rising Woman Program competition had an impact on your business?
Acknowledgement. I have become one of the most recognized successful businesswomen in the coffee industry. I am well known locally and internationally. My business has been featured in major daily newspapers, online and independent magazines.
I won 5 million shillings from the competition as the second runner-up, which I used to buy a coffee pulping machine which has since increased the volume of coffee production. The capacity of this machine has reduced the time rural women spend in coffee pulping.
What lessons have you learned from this experience?
Coming from Sironko district, I didn’t think I had a chance to win. I was surprised to be among the top 10 winners and top winners. It is a competition with a flat ground. Every woman has a chance to win.
It is also important to register your business. Most women-owned businesses were left out because they were not registered. But that is not enough, a well-documented business plan is essential. I also learned the value of being informed; I learned about the existence of this contest via social networks.
If you had a second chance, what would you do differently during the competition?
I would attach photographic evidence of my business and use a better format to make my pitch. I also encourage Rising Woman sponsors to do follow-up checks on companies that may not come out on top. There are female entrepreneurs who may not be able to make a business presentation, but are running successful businesses.
You entered the contest and you won. What progress have you made as a company and as an individual?
In 2021, we participated in an international arabica competition organized by the Uganda Coffee Development Authority in partnership with the British High Commission in Kampala and the Ugandan High Commission in London. Our coffee ranked fifth out of 52 samples submitted.
We have received funding from ENABLE, the youth program funded by the African Development Bank and the Nordic Development Fund (NDF) that supports young people in lifelong value addition in agriculture. Since then, we have expanded our commercial premises.
I see Kalaamugosi Women Empowerment becoming the leading women-led coffee business. We are committed to producing high quality coffee and services that meet international standards while promoting best practices in sustainable coffee cultivation.
To dfcu Bank, Daily Monitor and Uganda Investment Authority, thank you for empowering women in business through the Rising Woman initiative.