Women entrepreneurs were on 7 November 2019 given strategies for building sustainable enterprises, during the Women Entrepreneurs Mentorship seminar.
While speaking at the seminar, Ms. Sandra Letio, the 30 year old proprietor of Pelere Group advised businesswomen to do the right thing. Ms. Letio emphasised the importance of proper book keeping and maintaining audited accounts.
“I started audit when my business was making less than 10 million shillings,” Ms. Letio said. “The auditor would ask for over 700,000 shillings which I paid painfully, albeit appreciating the value,” she added.
Ms. Letio emphasised the importance of passion and cautioned businesswomen against jumping onto band wagons when starting businesses. “Have a passion for the business. Do not start a business because your friend is in that line of the business, because if you fall on hard times, it is the passion that will keep you going,” Ms. Letio said.
She also advised women entrepreneurs to: seek the services of professionals, have financial discipline, learn from mistakes, work hard, embrace continuous learning, have a business plan, and pray.
Pelere Group was started by Ms. Letio, when she was only 23 years old. The company locally manufactures and exports cosmetics made from Shea butter. With over 10 product lines (lip balm, hand wash, hair shampoo, hair conditioner, bathing soap, skin beauty products and liquid detergents, among others), Pelere is worth over 700,000 United States Dollars.
Fresh from the university and without a job, Ms. Letio started making soap, with capital of 30,000 shillings, using skills she learnt from her mother’s friend. She made a profit of 50,000 shillings from her maiden sale, which she reinvested in the business. Later, when a potential customer challenged her to improve the presentation of her products and standardize, she applied to the Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI) and used the opportunity to improve her products. The business was later registered as Pelere Group.
In 2015, Ms. Letio won the United Nations young entrepreneur ambassador for Uganda Award. She is the ambassador for youth entrepreneurs in Uganda
The Women Entrepreneurs Mentorship is organised annually by the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda (ICPAU) to equip businesswomen with skills to enable them grow sustainable businesses. It is organised as part of the Accountancy Services Week (ASW), during which accountants provide free business advisory services to the public. The 2019 ASW was held from 7-8 November at the Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA) show grounds.
During the Business Engagement Forum on 8 November 2019, Mr. Issa Sekitto, the spokesperson for the Kampala City Traders’ Association (KACITA) emphasized the importance of trust and character in business, and the value of business association. He noted that the fear of God is imperative for the success of a business.
“One who fears God is easier to trust compared to one who does not fear God,” said Mr. Sekitto.
For the 2019 ASW, ICPAU partnered with the Federation of Small and Medium Enterprises (FSME), the umbrella body for micro, small and medium enterprises in Uganda.
“We partnered with ICPAU because we have something in common. ICPAU is providing business advisory services during this week and that is one of the services that FSME offers. We knew that if we partnered with ICPAU, that is already offering these services, we would bring the business community to the event, to get these services from the people that offer them,” Ms. Sylvia Namale, a senior programmes officer at FSME.
CPA Charles Lutimba, the Manager – Standards and Technical Support at ICPAU said the Accountancy Services Week is a concept developed to provide accountants with the opportunity to give back to the community.
“Accountants do not operate in isolation. They work within communities and we believe that the free business advisory services which accounting firms are offering will add value to many businesses,” CPA Lutimba said.
The 2019 Accountancy Services Week attracted over 400 participants.
Advisory services included: basic book keeping, interpretation of financial statements by non-finance managers, stock management, tax compliance, business formalization, client relations, risk management, audit, and debt management, among others.
ICPAU is grateful to the following accounting firms that participated in the 2019 Accountancy Services Week:
- BDO East Africa
- Dativa & Associates
- Deloitte Uganda Limited
- Edes & Associates
- Felbright & Co
- Grant Thornton
- James OK And Partners
- Jim Roberts & Associates
- LM and Associates
- Mazars BRJ
- MGI HEM & Thakkar LLP
- Midland & Company
- Nasbag & Company
- Nexia HMS Associates
- Osillo & Co
- PKF Uganda
- R & Al Partners
- Sejjaaka, Kaawaase & Co