Trellises going up at the KadAfrica Estate. Just another reminder of how fast 2012 has passed.
It’s that time of year—the rains have begun to subside, grant application deadlines grow close, and friends and family begin to make holiday plans. The KadAfrica Estate exudes excitement as hundreds of poles and thousands of meters of wire begin to appear now that our once small passion seedlings have grown to the point where they necessitate trellises. Seeing our hard work represented by such visible growth is rewarding; it serves as a reminder of how far we have come and how much work lay ahead to solidify a market for our produce.
Last week Eric and I made a trip down to Kampala for a holiday dinner with the Mango Fund, a meeting with their American board members, and a first night of Hanukkah dinner with family and friends. The two of us found encouragement and motivation in the business ideas and tales of hard work that floated across a Chinese food dinner amongst the “Mango Fund family.” Being afforded the opportunity to sit down with like-minded people from a multitude of backgrounds is a privilege; and having the chance to meet and discuss such ideas with individuals we would have never encountered without our connection to a common investor could be the most valuable aspect to our strategic partnership. One of the directors of the Mango Fund gave some opening remarks, explaining how he finds inspiration in the businesses that the Mango Fund supports—that injecting the Ugandan market with viable business plans can produce real economic change and that us, as entrepreneurs, are the backbone of economic development in this country. His words provided a welcomed reminder of why we do what we do, and why it’s so important to challenge the status quo.
Friends and family gather around the dinner table for the first night of Hanukkah.
As we celebrated Hanukkah, I had the chance to share my culture for the second year now with my East African family and friends over an abundance of delicious Jewish eats, including latkas (fried potato pancakes), kugel (a sweet noodle casserole), and beef brisket. Accompanied by an exchange of cultural and religious ideals, dinner provided a platform for stimulating discussion and a fried-food induced coma. It also reminded us that cultural exchange is not always so commonplace in Uganda—especially with regards to the agriculture sector. As Eric and I drove the four-hour drive to Fort Portal last Saturday morning we rehashed the value behind the inspiring words we took from the week’s musings. That as entrepreneurs and owners of an innovative agribusiness, we have an opportunity to challenge cultural tenants and stereotypes commonplace among farmers in Uganda.
At KadAfrica, we hope to initiate economic development and change through agriculture and to influence the opinions that surround the industry. In Uganda, a stigma exists against farming—it is a trade for the poor. That farming should be done on a subsistence basis and a person has more of an opportunity to change his or her economic status through purchasing a boda-boda (motorcycle taxi) or starting up a retail business. I believe in an intrinsic pattern to a country’s cycle of development, the backbone of which lies in agriculture. Tis’ the season to reflect; to begin looking at oneself and thinking about the resolutions to be made for the year ahead; and to ask the difficult questions. Is it natural for a country to have a Mercedes Benz dealership yet lack agriculture cooperatives? And how can we at KadAfrica begin to create answers through the example we strive to build?
‘Tis the season for flowers! Only 70 days until these flowers become fruits ready for harvest.