Women in Business Finalist Named in Forbes List

She has already won BiD Network’s Women in Business Challenge 2013, and now she’s named in Forbes “30 Most Promising Entrepreneurs Under 30.” Affiong Williams, founder of Reelfruit has been acknowledged for her motivation to expand her dried fruit and nuts business outside of Nigeria. In an interview with BiD Network in 2014, Williams told other women entrepreneurs to “really think big! I want to encourage them to remove any constraints that might hold them back from thinking they can own the business of their dreams.” That is exactly what she is doing.  “We favored entrepreneurs with fresh ideas and took into account their business size, location, struggles and determination. Senior editors then debated and argued over the final 30” Since the Women in Business challenge, Williams has been able to create new products that include; integration of dried fruits and nuts into a packaged mix, a local fruit drink, and a new cashew brand. Having developed these new products, Affiong Williams is seeking to expand into the lucrative airline industry. Williams has also been increasing her staff by bringing up the total of employees to twelve by the end of 2014. The Forbes Africa 30 under 30 is an annual list of most promising entrepreneurs to look out for in the future. The entrepreneurs are selected by the Forbes Africa readers and carefully judged by a selection of judges from the editing staff.   To see the full Forbes Africa 30 under 30 report, click here. To see the interview of Affiong Williams by BiD Network in 2014, click...

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,...

Waste Masters: Growing on Garbage

Last week, an amount of USD 50,000 was transferred from an European business angel to Waste Masters in Uganda. The transaction was extraordinary, as to date the entrepreneur and the investor have never met each other. Based on business documentation, financial statements and trust built through various email and Skype conversations, the financial deal has been closed. The entrepreneurial aspirations of Chrispin Lutalo, owner and founder of Waste Masters, became visible when he was following a study course to become a priest. One day, Chrispin made a decision to take a year off and to explore opportunities that would enable him to live a life without poverty. When someone approached him with the request to take care of a plot of land, he started producing vegetables and selling and distributing these door to door in the outskirts of Kampala. At a certain moment, one of his clients asked him if he would be willing to pick up her garbage in return for a payment. This is where the idea for Waste Masters emerged. Within three weeks, he had hired a lorry and started the business. Eighteen months later, Chrispin bought his own truck and the business started to grow. Today Waste Masters is formally registered. It employs 12 staff members, who are engaged in the collection of garbage, the distribution of garbage bags, customer relations and collection of revenues. Clients pay on average around UGX 20,000 per month, and the business has almost 500 clients and picks up garbage four days a week. With the finance raised, Waste Masters will be able to buy an extra truck, allowing the...

Interview with Affiong Williams: “My advice to other Women entrepreneurs: THINK BIG!”

These are the wise words of Affiong Williams from Nigeria. Woman, entrepreneur, ambitious and last but not least: winner of our last edition of Women in Business 2013. Her business is called “REELFRUIT”. Now that the 5th edition of the Women in Business Challenge has been launched, we wanted to check in with Affiong and see how she and her business are doing since the competition last year. How did you find out about the Women in Business Challenge and what made you decide to enroll in the competition? I applied for the competition in 2012 for the first time. I remember seeing an announcement of the competition on Facebook or twitter. I decided to apply, but I was not able to proceed to the second round of the competition that time. I know now that I was still at a too early stage with my business then. The following year, I received an invitation to apply for the next edition of the competition. This time, I was much better prepared and I had a wonderful coach who helped me to present a plan that ultimately became the winning plan. What did you like the most about the Women in Business competition or what was the most valuable for you? The most exciting part of the competition was probably the process of completely thinking through my business, although the most valuable experience was by far to be working with my coach, and to have him examine my business with criticism as an unbiased outsider. The week in Amsterdam was also fantastic. It allowed me to expand my horizon and...

Interview with Stela Maris da Silva: from Plan to Finance

In 2011, Stela Maris da Silva won the BiD Challenge in Argentina and in 2012 she became a finalist in our Women in Business Challenge. Her company BIOPRO aims to educate and change farming practices in Argentina by the introduction of organic methods and products. Our business competitions have helped Stela to get the financing she needed to grow her company and since then, she has been funded to the value of $ 656,000. We interviewed her to hear more about her experiences, tips and the journey since. Stela, first of all: congratulations with your success! You won the BiD Challenge Argentina 2011 and you also participated in the 3rd edition of the Women in Business Challenge where you were selected as one of the five finalists to attend the Growing SMEs conference in The Hague in 2012. We are curious to hear more about your story. “When we heard about the BiD Challenge Argentina 2011, we only had an idea for a business. We thought by participating in the challenge, we would perhaps get help to be able to improve our business plan. That was the main reason I applied for the challenge. At that moment I had no idea, I had no experience and no knowledge on how to set up a business. I thought I would never be selected to participate in the challenge, but I was! The last week before the deadline was very stressful, but my coach was always available and dedicated. He helped me with my business plan up until a few minutes before the deadline. Later, when we were among the finalists,...