Last year, this article circulated the internet and caused a bit of a sensation. It stated that Uganda is the most entrepreneurial country on earth. People around the world were tickled that developing countries could top a list of anything taken to be positive. In fact, the top 15 most entrepreneurial countries are all from the global south.
Yes, we’re entrepreneurial. We have to be. Our birth rate is high. Our formal economic system is still developing. We’re just beginning to urbanize. Meanwhile, our middle class is growing and has needs! While the government is sorting out how to allocate its tax revenue to serve our people, while local universities are creating programs in line with international standards to educate our people, and while global corporations are deciding when’s the best time to invest in Uganda and employ our people, we’ve got mouths to feed. Life isn’t always easy, but Ugandans are generally up for the challenge.
Besides, Ugandans aren’t afraid to try or lose. Check out this video by Eddy Kenzo. And then find a Ugandan to translate the lyrics to you (or check out this link). It offers some amazing insight into the eternally optimistic spirit of Uganda.
That music video kinda makes you want to book your ticket to Uganda, doesn’t it?
On that note, I highlight some of the creative and innovative ways Ugandans earn their daily bread and actually end up making everyone’s lives a little easier in the process. Thanks, guys!
1. Cut-up fruit guy. Who has time to cut up a whole watermelon? Maybe you want just a slice with a pineapple chaser? This is my favourite new innovation, popping up all along Jinja and Entebbe Roads.
2. Roaming mani/pedi guy. Can’t leave your shop all day but have plans tonight? This guy brings his kit to you. And he has about a million colours of nail varnish.
3. Bicycle guy. If you’ve got a bicycle, you’ve got a business. Anything can be hauled on a bicycle from people, to jerry cans of water, to 60 feet of rebar.
4. Cold bottled-water guy. Stuck in jam and dying from the heat? This guy buys a box of mineral water wholesale and sells each bottle retail to sweaty Ugandans trapped in their cars in Kampala’s never ending traffic. He brings it right to your window! (see also green apple guy and biscuit guy)
5. Neighbourhood sand and other building materials guy. Doing a small job around the house and don’t need a whole truck load of river sand? These guys can help you out.
6. Rolex guy. On your way home from work and feeling peckish? This guy will make you a hot, nutritious, snack – while you wait. Super rad! (see also roast chicken guy and gonja lady)
7. Document fixer guy. Don’t feel like learning the online Uganda Revenue Authority procedures to renew your driver’s license? This guy will sort you. Don’t want to stand in line to collect passport application forms? Call him, he doesn’t mind. There are people in Uganda who make a career of dealing with bureaucracy for us. These people are not just entrepreneurs, they are local heroes.
Of course, the grand daddy of all entrepreneurs in Uganda is the bodaboda rider. He’s there when you need to go somewhere fast. He’s our kids’ school bus driver. He delivers our products to clients. He brings documents to be signed and returned without delay. He’ll even bring you a rolex on a Sunday morning when you’re too hungover to go yourself…
So yeah, it shouldn’t surprise anyone to find Uganda at the top of any list concerning entrepreneurial activity. We’ve got that covered!