How to start business in Uganda without capital

Many Ugandans dream of starting their own business but of course, are faced with dozens of obstacles that may keep them from actually taking the first steps. Some of these include a lack of motivation or time to actually see the work through. Others might not even have a solid idea to begin with — yet.

But where most people get stopped cold is the realization that it takes money to start a business — money they don’t have. In almost all my engagements with youth, the most asked question is about capital.

“I want to start a business, but where do I get capital from?” “Capital is what is stopping me from starting a business.” Most successful business owners did not inherit the business, they started from scratch. So that should tell you that capital is not the most important thing in starting a business. To me Planning, Courage, and thick skin are the most important.

One will need to come up with a business plan and financial model, of course, but you can do this on your own, for free. You will need to have the courage to start and not stop and you should definitely have thick skin to the nay sayers, the losses you will make and some not-so-friendly customers, by the way, they will be many. But through it all, you will learn a lot.

A friend of mine once told me she was not financially stable and jobs were scarce. She had started becoming desperate. I asked her why doesn’t start a business. Obviously, the same issue of no capital came up.

But she did not capital to start a business. Literally. I advised her to, for example, start a business in fashion, clothing, shoes, etc. “I need capital to open a shop, to buy stock,” she said. “My budget has come to Shs20 million.”

I wondered where she’d get all this money from. But she is the type that will get more than 1,000 likes for pictures she posts on her social media platforms.

“That is where your customers are. Go to Owino Market, and get the photos and prices of different items. Post them on Facebook and when you get orders, go back to Owino and pay for the said dress (if it is still available) and have it delivered, for a profit,” I advised.

I reminded her that most men do not want to go for shopping, so they are the easiest customers you can get and will barely bargain on price. For example, in Owino, trousers cost Shs30,000. There you can resell at Shs50,000. If you are lucky enough to sell about five pieces a day, you will probably make a profit of about Shs75,000.


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