Second Training in Uganda Completed!

Posted 10 October 2018 by Lorin Symington.

I’m happy to report that there is a new solar powered bakery business operating in Gulu, Uganda! Our two-week training course in cooperation with Plan International and SmartUp Factory Gulu Hub finished with a great launch event where the young entrepreneurs promoted their bakery cooperative and got a chance to gain publicity, attract new clients and make sales to finance the next production runs! Here are few of the training highlights from Gulu.

These are the first solar baked loafs of bread baked by our entrepreneurs in training. Entrepreneur Lydia's face speaks for itself!

 

The Entrepeneurship "Aha" Moment
There’s a key moment in our training course when the students make their first sale. After a week of education and training in operation, maintenance, science, business and bakery skills the students were able to bake good quality breads, cakes and cookies, present and package them for sale - and when they make their first sale, entrepreneurship becomes so much more real!

Part of our training aims to foster what we call "entrepreneurship awareness" - the kind of mindset you need to make a business a success. When you start a business, you can’t be in a passive 9 to 5 attitude, you need to be proactive. When you make 10 sales on day 1, you need to ask yourself if you can make 20 the next. Once you know how to make breads, why not explore more advanced pastries? Can I expand my business by having a stock of cookies that last longer, in case we run out of bread? How do we satisfy - or even better - delight our customers? Just some examples, but what’s key is instilling in the students the actual entrepreneurial thinking process and a proactive attitude - so that they become independent thinkers, independent entrepreneurs.

A single day of baked goods minus about 30% of sweet and sourdough bread, cakes and cookies that got eaten before the picture was taken.
Students paying attention to detail while measuring ingredients. It's important to train accurate measuring for consistent results.

After making the first sale is a great time to revisit ’roles and responsibilities’ within the business. Even before I got there the students, with support from the SmartUp Hub, organized themselves into a cooperative business, agreeing on principles. I took them into the class and facilitated a group discussion. 20 minutes into the discussion the class stopped speaking politely in English and started discussing heatedly among themselves in their native tongue. From time to time I asked them to summarize, and it was great to see them discuss the roles and responsibilities and give each other feedback on how to improve the work. Listening to them self-organizing felt very powerful. I felt they’re in, they’re on board and I knew from that moment that they will succeed!

 

It’s Showtime!
Soon enough it was time for showcase! SmartUp Factory Gulu Hub invited local dignitaries, journalists and NGO representatives, and the students were at their best! Though the day started off cloudy, as often happens this time of year, the skies cleared in time to bake cookies and show the power of the SOL5! Attendees got to hear about the training from Plan representatives, SmartUp representatives and from me; I described the entrepreneurship training, the practical components of the training and gave an overview of the Direct Solar Economy and the impact this new wave of solar entrepreneurship can have on people, the environment and the planet.
In the days after the showcase I mentored the cooperative business and provided deeper sessions for subgroups of the students, I’ll be sharing more about this process in a subsequent post. Meanwhile the entrepreneurs continued to do business and showed a great communication culture for calling out inefficiencies and agreeing on better workflows. The entrepreneur mindset at work!

Eager customers, eager sellers and a beautiful variety of products on showcase day.
The students decorated their SOL5 in anticipation of a great showcase day attracting many people.
Program Area Coordinator for Plan International Uganda's Lira office Collin Mutinda gave an overview of Plan's activities.
Meanwhile, sourdough is rising under the tea towels, ready to be baked and sold during the showcase.
Bright faces, bright future: The launch Day, as well as the training as a whole, was a complete success!

 

Moving on
This brings to an end the second training course GoSol did in Uganda. Over the coming weeks it will be very interesting to follow the young entrepreneurs and see how far they will take their solar business after the training. Next week I hope to circle back to Tororo, where SmartUp Factory Tororo Hub reports the group I trained is in full swing, so stay tuned for more updates!


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