Success story: investment for Ugandan eco-resort Banana Village

21 years ago, Jemimah Semakadde started an eco-resort near Entebbe in Uganda. Initially meant as affordable holiday accommodation for local travelers, today Banana Village welcomes visitors from all over the world. With the help of BiD Network, Jemimah was able to find the investment needed to further expand and improve her resort. Banana Village was founded in 1994. “We bought the place to build a family home. However, the property is quite extensive and this brought us to the idea to start a budget accommodation to cater for our local people who could not afford the more expensive hotels, especially for their honeymoons.” Around 2000, more and more visitors from outside Uganda and Africa started to discover Uganda and enjoyed their stay at Banana Village. Via the website and Trip Advisor, guests from all around the world find out about the resort and share their recommendations. Still staying within an affordable price range, Banana Village is able to offer a comfortable place to stay in a peaceful and natural environment: “it is what people come here for and what they enjoy most.” What did you need the investment for? “From the start, we have been able to reach a domino effect: as we would build one hut, it would provide us with the money to build the next one, and so on. It has been going on like that until I received the investment needed and was enabled to put a much bigger effect on the property.” Before the investment, Banana Village had 21 rooms. The loan made it possible for Jemimah to add another 9 rooms at once,...

Interview: Vivienne Court invests in Rwandan coffee trader KAMG

Marcel Klooss of Vivienne Court visited our Get in the Ring Africa regional final last September 2014. That’s where he met Rwandan entrepreneur and coffee supplier Kamitatu Kayobotsi. On behalf of Vivienne Court, he is currently cooperating with and investing in mr. Kamitatu’s business KAMG Trading and Coffee Export. We interviewed Marcel about the investment process so far. Can you tell us a bit more about Vivienne Court and your impact investment practices? Vivienne Court is a trading firm based in Sydney, Australia. The setup of the company is that it has no shareholders but is owned by a foundation. Half of the profit of the firm goes to the foundation. The foundation looks for projects to invest in where the dollar impact is high and where ideally VivCourt can add something more in terms of management support.  As we just started it is a completely new area for Vivienne Court where we have no experience at all, so we are excited to learn along the way but also expect things to go wrong in ways we have no idea of yet. Everything is already very different in our current setup with KAMG than we initially thought it would be. How did you get in contact with Kamitatu Kayobotsi? BiD Network invited me to Get in the Ring Africa in Kigali, Rwanda, last September. During the event, I spoke to a lot of different people and entrepreneurs, including Kamitatu Kayobotsi: a Rwandan coffee supplier in need of investment. I visited his factory to learn more about his business. He seemed to have the right profile to match our foundation’s...

Interview: Rwandan Mobile Technology company HeHe Labs

Clarisse Iribagiza is the co-founder and CEO of HeHe Labs, a Rwandan Mobile Technology research and innovation lab. The company offers mobile solutions for different sectors, such as agriculture, infrastructure and healthcare, as well as code programs for schools and universities in Rwanda. BiD Network arranged a business trip to the Netherlands for Clarisse, filled with B2B meetings and an opportunity to pitch her business during our investor cocktail on March 26nd. She’s hoping to find investment to keep her business growing. HeHe Labs was founded in August of 2010, when Clarisse had finished a program in mobile technology and entrepreneurship during her studies in computer engineering. “The program made me realize I could build something meaningful with the skills I had developed during my studies. HeHe means “where” in Kinyarwanda and is based on the first application we built during the program, which was location-based and helped people to get around and find their way in Kigali. Working on this application helped us acquiring the skills needed to build different types of mobile information systems.” Can you tell a bit more about the sectors HeHe Labs is focusing on and some of your current applications? “I would say we are an engineering firm; our work is around research and product development. The applications we develop are quite diverse but all focused on helping organizations improve their operational efficiency through the use of ICT and specifically mobile technologies. Up to 80% of our population is involved in agriculture in some way. We have built a value chain agriculture application, as ICT enables to improve how agriculture is done. On...

Interview with BSC Monrovia: how is the business startup center doing during the Ebola crisis?

This month it was announced that TIME’s person of the year 2014 is the Ebola fighter. The Ebola outbreak of this year hit many in especially Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. But the affected countries are not defeated by the epidemic, as many local and international organizations have joined forces to fight the outbreak and improve the situation. One of these organizations is our partner the Business Startup Center Monrovia in Liberia. We spoke to William Reide Dennis II, Acting Director, to look back at the last months, to hear about what is going on at the moment and to look ahead at new promising opportunities. William, many people might think that things are currently on hold in Liberia, but the BSC Monrovia is actually really active and supports entrepreneurs in improving the situation together. How has the Ebola outbreak affected the work of the BSC Monrovia? It was around late July that the situation had become really terrible in Liberia; there were around 200 new Ebola cases each day, people fled the country and the economy went down. We tried to stay around and help, but were forced to shut down all of our activities. Additionally, we could not visit other business centers because at a certain point the government prohibited travelling to other regions. Then, international support started coming our way: doctors, experts, supplies and money were arriving in the country. Suddenly a lot was happening and we saw opportunities arising. That’s when we got together in August and asked ourselves: what can we do as a business center to support SMEs in this crisis and to...

Entrepreneur interview: LE ARCH 3D

LE ARCH 3D is a startup from Kosovo in 3D printing and has won the Spring Challenge Kosovo. BiD Network interviewed Leana Mahmuti, founder of the company. Hi Leana, can you tell us a bit more about what kind of business you have? LE ARCH 3D has brought innovation to Kosovo by offering 3D printing services and thereby making it possible to increase presentation and promotion of architectural projects, for instance by testing models before production and by offering access to accessories in every shape and color. Models can be 3D printed in high quality, of any structure or shape, with precise detailing up to 0.1mm. 3D printing is a process that creates a 3dimensional object from a digital model. 3D printing is achieved using an additive process, where successive layers of material are laid down in different shapes. The process is different from traditional model making, which usually consumes a lot of materials and costs a lot of time to assemble. Can you explain how you started your business? I had the idea to start something new and innovative that could be connected with architecture and design, as well as the potential to expand the business to other fields that offer possibilities for 3D printing. How did you get into contact with BiD Network? Through the Business Support Centre Kosovo (BSCK). What is the added value of the BSCK and BiD Network? BSCK offered me entrepreneurship courses and marketing support, while BiD Network gave me the chance to travel to the Netherlands to have B2B meetings as well as receiving coaching and advanced training in business plan writing...