BSpace is proud to be Associated with the ‘Woman Entrepreneur of the Year 2015’

CaptureBSpace is proud to be associated with Florence Okot, a social entrepreneur who was voted ‘Woman Entrepreneur of the Year 2015’ at the Awards organized by Uganda Investment Authority in June 2016. Florence is the founder of Yellow Star Ltd a woman owned and woman led inclusive business that started in 1995 as a humble produce buying sole proprietorship but has grown into a food processing company with an annual turnover of UGX 500 million and a diverse portfolio of grain based food products that are processed and supplied to over 100 supermarket outlets in Uganda.

Florence Okot winnowing millet at her workplace. Photo Courtney of Stephen Otage

Florence Okot winnowing millet at Yellow Star  premises . Photo courtesy of Stephen Otage

Yellow Star received Business Development Services from BSpace under an incubation program funded by the Oxam Novib Impact Investment (ONII). Yellow Star was selected to join the incubation program out of numerous applicants because of its social impact of buying raw material produce from over 3000 supplier farmers in Northern Uganda most of whom are women. Florence could have opted to buy her produce from less cumbersome sources close to Kampala but chose to stay close to her roots and work with these rural farmers to purchase simsim, groundnuts,   millet & honey. In addition Florence provides training and mentoring to the farmers and engages them in self-help community initiatives. This provides income generating and employment opportunities as well as financial and social empowerment for this base of the pyramid.

New product branding

New product branding

Before joining the incubation program Yellow Star’s main challenges included a weak and confusing brand when compared with the competition, an unbalanced product-profit mix portfolio and a less than effective financial management and governance environment.

To address these needs Yellow Star was facilitated with a comprehensive brand repositioning strategy, extensive product portfolio analysis and financial management and governance training. Yellow Star is now able to analyze product profitability and prioritize production based on profit maximization. Production of high demand but loss making products was dropped as costs of production were re-assessed. This increased efficiency and financial performance. Florence now understands “tricky” HR issues like firing staff and dealing with employee-relatives. Yellow Star now has well defined staff roles and responsibilities and clearly defined financial principles and hired more staff to improve financial management and controls. Florence says the incubation improved her capabilities in analyse and interpret financial data and reports. She says she now knows what questions to ask the accountant. She adds that , “For 17 years I feel actually towards the end of last year and this year is when am seeing my business now actually beginning to grow.’’

Uganda Investment Authority executive Director Frank Sebowa (L) with Finance Minister Matia Kasaija (R) congratulate proprietor of Yellow Star Ltd Florence Okot  women entrepreneur of the year at Hotel Africana upon receipt of her award. Photo courtesy of East African Vanguard .com

Uganda Investment Authority executive Director Frank Sebowa (L) with Finance Minister Matia Kasaija (R)  Florence Okot on being awarded women entrepreneur of the year at Hotel Africana upon receipt of her award. Photo courtesy of East African Vanguard .com

In late 2015 Florence won a trans-country national Women in business challenge competition which she partly attributed to the incubation program. It helped her understand her business better and she was thus able to articulate better during the competition. In early 2016 she was sponsored to travel to the Netherlands to join other national winners from Africa and pitch to potential investors. Being voted Woman Entrepreneur of the Year is the latest and (we are sure) not the last feather in Florence’s cap. BSpace will continue exploring opportunities to support inclusive businesses like Yellow Star as we strive to meet our goal of accelerating inclusive businesses in Uganda