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Irish Business Events

Janet Shimanya welcoming Joan Kelly (an Irish Business lady in Uganda)

My name is Janet S. Musoloza; I joined the Embassy of Ireland in 1996 when the Embassy was still young (two years old).  Essentially, I have seen the Embassy grow!

The Embassy of Ireland’s main business before 2010 was providing development assistance to Uganda.  A lot has changed since then, the Embassy is now engaging more on political issues as well as trade and private sector development, in line with the Irish Government’s Africa Strategy. This is   an area I have taken on for the last two years.  One of the ways this has been implemented is by engaging more with Irish businesses.

We held a first business breakfast in March 2011 at the Ambassador’s residence.  The objective was to kick-start an informal network of Irish business people in Uganda with the idea that the network could assist Irish businesses.  The Embassy was also interested in knowing what kind of support it could provide, to encourage the entrance of new Irish private sector actors into the Ugandan market.  

The concept was slow to take off, but I feel we now have some momentum behind us – we have even established the Irish Business Network Uganda on LinkedIn!  Meetings are now held at various venues, with interesting twists to the event to spice it up.  For example, we had an evening of Irish whisky testing where the Dutch business network was invited; one of the positive results from that evening saw an Irish coffee-grower connected with a Dutch coffee dealer.  In other events, we have discussed issues pertinent to carrying out effective business in Uganda.  Feedback from participants is that new Irish business people are really benefiting from connections through our network, as well as from the knowledge and expertise of those who have been in Uganda longer.  We have seen new companies opening up in Uganda in the areas of Renewable Energy, construction, security, Information technology and mining & Exploration. We have also realised a tremendous increase in the number of those seeking to invest in Uganda.

Stephen Isiko, a local business man, showing the Secretary General, David Cooney, what his company produces

In the last Irish Business Network Uganda (IBNU) event held on the 4th July 2013, participation was from IBNU Members, Local Ugandan Businesses, Ugandan institutions supporting business like Uganda investment Authority and Uganda Export Promotions Board and other Embassies supporting businesses in Uganda.  Sectors represented were energy, security, telecoms, hospitality and agriculture.  The Secretary General and the Director General of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade were in attendance.  Some companies displayed what they do, donors shared the opportunities they have for organisations investing in Uganda, cards were exchanged and links were created.  The event helped us achieve all our objectives for this network which are: - creating networking opportunities to support the growth of Irish business in Uganda; help the entrance of new Irish businesses; and grow business links between Uganda and Ireland.

“The business breakfast gave a sense of what is happening in Uganda economically”, said the Director General, Brendan Rogers.

Connecting people is the essence of what we are trying to do and a big part of this involves helping people, which I particularly enjoy. I get to meet and talk to people and it is rewarding to know that the Embassy played a part in aiding businesses invest in Uganda.