How We Started
HOW WE STARTED
It was one evening in 2005 when I (Maalik) went to buy some groceries from a friend Abooki, in the Old Taxi Park, Kampala. Courtesy of my popularity, he inquired whether I knew anywhere he could secure a scholarship for his son to join high school. The boy had past the O – Level exams but the father was financially unable to meet the cost of pushing the boy for A – Level studies.
I had no idea on where to secure a scholarship, but I offered an alternative option. I made Abooki understand that; the high school cost was up in the skies, yet he (Abooki) had many young ones to look after. I asked Abooki to look for a onetime fee of UgX 250,000 (USD 100.00) to take the boy for a one month skills training in the art of REFILLING PRINTER CARTRIDGES. The father did not know what all it meant but because he trusted me, he looked for the money. Three weeks after, he called me to pick it, proceed with the arrangement.
The boy was trained in one month as planned, owing to his intellect and honesty; he was retained by the trainers. The father was reporting that the boy was doing very well, also offering a hand of support to the family. I was inspired; I understood that; what Ugandans lack is; MARKET INFORMATION. I started on the journey to provide market information and skills training.
STARTING THE MASS TRAININGS:
Building on the exposure I had acquired and continued to get from India specifically some institutions like, Department of MSME – Mumbai, Engineers India Research Institute (New Delhi), Niral Business Institute (Mumbai) etc, I was convinced that; non-formal alternative vocational skills and cottage industrialization were the options we had promote for sustainable job creation.
So, I set a goal: Turning Uganda into East Africa’s industrial hub, with people working from home running micro, small and medium scale enterprises.
My first strategy was to provide information about existing opportunities and how people can tap into them. I used a number of radio stations to carry the message. The public appreciated, many turned up to ask on how to get started on projects such as making candles, liquid soap, bar soap, school chalk, hair shampoos etc.
It was a puzzle, after inciting the public, I could not really figure out where to locally find the required project inputs. With the public showing more interest in candles, I started the search for raw materials and the simplest sources of equipment.
All I knew was; there were some two dealers (Desbro & and; Organic Chemicals) in industrial chemicals in Industry Area, so after failing to get someone to get me Paraffin Wax from Nairobi, I decided to try the local dealers. In fact God had blessed my work; I managed to get paraffin wax from Desbro. They were importing and supplying to some local Indian candle manufacturers.
About the equipment, I met a really handy craftsman (Mansour Kabuye) in Katwe, when I explained what I wanted, he confirmed that he could make it. In fact in less than a week, Mansour managed to use his foundry knowledge to come up with a Candle Moulder. I collected all other minor inputs, set the date for my first hands-on skills training workshop and the first of its own in Uganda. It was on the 13th day of February 2007, the training was held at Nakivubo Blue Primary School.
It was really a surprise and joy all over. Not just because people were seeing a candle being made for the first time, but acquiring such skills in less than a day and teaching in a local language everyone understood was; to many a wonder of its own. At the close of the training, the 300 participants were all confirming that they had really learnt.
From this point on-wards, many training workshops were conducted, new projects including School chalk, soaps & detergents, creams & lotions, petroleum jelly, spices, sugar, paints & varnishes etc were introduced. Today, we are running over 200 project modules, by June 2014; 45,000 Ugandans and other East Africans had been trained and an estimate of 78,000 jobs created.
Many institutions such as Uganda Investment Authority, SNV, Religious Groups etc have trained at Telesat International and now providing the same training services in different parts of the country.
We started informally with our little resources, but now we are looking out for support to be able to reach more 74,450 East Africans by 2019 and as well replicate this model in 5 other African countries.