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The disappointing Experience of a Ugandan Entrepreneur at the EXPO 2020 Dubai

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The disappointing Experience of a Ugandan Entrepreneur at the EXPO 2020 Dubai

Ugandans have expressed disappointment in the team that has represented the country at Expo 2020 Dubai in the UAE. Uganda is taking part in the 6 months Expo and President Yoweri Museveni in particular flew to the UAE to be present for what was termed as “Uganda National Day” on 3rd October 2021.

However, pictures and videos of the President inspecting the Ugandan pavilion caused public uproar with many people wondering where the UGX3 Billion approved by Parliament for the activity went. The pavilion has a few stalls selling some tins of Lato milk, drums, and coffee among other small items.

President Museveni in Dubai on Sunday

While the team from Uganda Investment Authority is allegedly signing deals with investors from different countries that are at the Expo, the pavilion is empty. A video captured by one of the MPs on ground also shows an empty pavilion without even a receptionist. But most disappointing is the small spaces allocated to entrepreneurs like Maxima Nsimenta who has decided to share her horrible experience with the world.

The image that has left most Ugandans disappointed

THE UGANDA PAVILION AT THE DUBAI EXPO 2020

So, I traveled to Dubai to exhibit my innovation and brand Livara to the world. I went with the sole intention of showing the world the value of the naturally amazing Shea tree and what we have done with the nuts we get from it. I needed to show the world that we are more than just a cosmetics manufacturing company, we are a movement and a trendsetter in an area that up to now has been paid minimal attention: natural and organic products for the African person – or person with African origin.

Did I mention that I was invited by Uganda Industrial Research Institute and Uganda Investment Authority to exhibit at this expo?!

CHALLENGES BEGIN:

On invitation, I expected to have a brief sent to me about what to expect at the expo, the set – up requirements in the minimum, the recommended hotels, the transport options, the requirements for travel, etc……Nothing was shared even after several requests for information. I ended up booking a hotel through Booking.com oy to be scammed by a Nigerian. On reporting this to the Minister of Trade and organizers present, all I was told was, “Sorry.”

That aside, I got to our Ugandan Pavilion and I had no space allocation to exhibit yet I had submitted a list of items that I intended to exhibit. Need I point out that I was the only local manufacturer with catalogues and magazines full of information about us and Uganda’s Shea butter greatness? I had to fight for the little box that I was given and then requested to have my other goods shipped back home.

The small box allocated to Nsimwenta to showcase her products (Livara)

Come Uganda day, the few exhibitors were clearly told not to set foot in the pavilion. Apparently, the Ministers would do the talking for us! 🤦🏾‍♀️🤦🏾‍♀️🤦🏾‍♀️These people have very limited insight (technical and otherwise) into what we do! They could never sell our innovations and value additions to anyone! We needed to have worked together and for them to let our young energy speak for the country just like other, more developed countries are doing. There’s something about letting the entrepreneurs speak for themselves because it is us that can best sell our story to anyone. On Uganda day, the organizers chose to send away the entrepreneurs and innovators in order to make it a political show!

So, we are in Dubai at this mega place ready to meet investors and potential trade partners….Uganda has only organized one business forum at which again it is going to be a political show! Our neighbors Kenya, Rwanda and the rest have numerous business forums at which they let the entrepreneurs and innovators speak and pitch to audiences of potential investors and business partners but we, as a country, are eagerly ready to act like fools and not use real experiences of real tangible innovations and products but only want to speak numbers of money that will be swindled!

Uganda, you have disappointed me and I am currently sad to be part of such an irresponsible lot of people who are not ready and willing to go the extra mile to add very much-needed value to our nation.

I need better and I expect better. I am tired of rubbish and lack of support.

Livara employs over 60 people and directly impacts over 240 family members daily. We work with over 2,000 organized farmers who will suffer if we do not buy the Shea nuts. We have made 49+ product SKUs that are selling like hot cake on the market. We are made up of young, driven, energetic, and committed youth who are adding real value to the country. We desperately want to do more and are ready and willing to do more.

But why doesn’t Uganda first look inward and develop our own by creating platforms that actually support our growth?! Why don’t we get inspired by these developed countries and aspire to want more!

USA – took an actual rocket piece to the Dubai Expo and actual stones from the moon and space.

Nsimenta at the stone being exhibited by USA

Kazakhstan – built their new super-futuristic city in 20 years and showcased the robotics, and futuristic technology they’re making for the world. They were actually the first country to take people to space. They also showcased their culture which is very very very beautiful, I must add.

EGYPT – I’m lost for words! I wanted to become Egyptian by the time I left. Uganda take a leaf and let us move forward. These backward steps are taking us nowhere!!!

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