Our Swiss Re Start Up academies are a impactful experience for Participants and Mentors alike, read below how our Swiss Re Mentor Domenico Savarese experienced the latest Swiss Re Start-Up Academy in Kampala, Uganda.
"We are just back from Kampala, where Swiss Re sponsored the first week-long study camp for building entrepreneurs in Uganda (and 22nd overall).
Our 44 new friends are between 18-25 years old, come from very humble backgrounds, and fight daily to make a living – while trying to solve their communities' pressing needs."
On the first day of the program, we formed groups which would work together on one Start-Up idea for the rest of the week.
Most of our study groups focused on real issues for the Ugandan people and tangible solutions.
For example, the group "SafeGirl" group wants school-age kids to stop using banana leaves or mattress fillings for their menstrual periods, thanks to their health-focused pouch with reusable pads, antibiotic soap and gentle wash. The "Magoba" ("profit") group, our winner, wants to advise rural farmers on how to add value to crops, and sell them dual-power machinery (solar & oil).
The entrepreneurial spirit among the participants was high. Many of them have already tried to launch at least one micro-enterprise! Also this desire to hustle has a very tangible reason: in one of the poorest nations in the world, massive population growth leaves the young especially challenged (some 83% unemployed/in informal sector, it becomes even worse when people have university degree).
Becoming an entrepreneur is one of the only ways for them to get an income and break through poverty.
Eventhough many had their own business ideas prior to the academy, once the study groups were formed the teams rallied quite quickly behind "somebody else's" idea & worked hard for the whole week, learning business and go-to-market basics for a final "pitch to investors". Everybody's favorite was Emmanuel – who pivoted from master electrician to "Safe Boy", a most ardent member and quick learner in SafeGirl's team.
Our Swiss Re team had never met each other, but by the end of the week we were all extremely proud of how much the groups had achieved: they built new ideas, learned & applied plenty of new concepts, meeting and working with new people – none of this was easy. It was a really amazing experience for all of us! We learned so much from thess young students especially during our coaching/mentoring sessions.
We commit to staying in touch with our mentees to support them as much as possible. We may reach out to some of you too!"