5 January 2018

Ugandans in Diaspora Set to Launch Restaurant Chain

Immigrant communities around the world have a specific identity, each with something that separates them from others; whenever one travels, they would want to dine at Asian restaurants, Ethiopians are fast joining the trade, and Nigerians on the other hand have also mastered some craft.

This is not the same when it comes to Ugandans, they are not known for much, no matter where they go.

It is for this reason that Ugandans in the diaspora under their umbrella body UNAA Causes, have opted to launch an investment club to promote a culture of entrepreneurship amongst Ugandans around the world.

The UNAA Causes CEO, David Muwanga says that the club will help to anchor Ugandan immigrants in international business, and bring them necessary revenue to taste the fruits of the American dream and contribute to the developments back home.

"Because we are lagging behind other Immigrants. UNAA Causes sees the club as an opportunity to have a result-oriented business program that runs throughout the course of the year, the club, the first of its kind for Ugandans in the diaspora will act as a business startup incubator," Mr Muwanga said.

"Our first venture is to bring Ugandan cuisine into prime retail space in North America by emulating other immigrant communities like Asians, South Americans and Ethiopians. Those that choose to invest will form a new entity as shareholders, and choose their directors to run the business day to day. UNAA Causes through the Club will not own shares in the entity but it will maintain a binding partnership to cover areas like allowing new shareholder participation in the business, growth and support," he added.

"The group intends to set the ground running in spring or early summer this year. UNAA Causes is also offering Ugandans an opportunity to join now, this will be part of our annual festival that will be taking place in Washington D.C at the 5 Star Gaylord National Resort Hotel - National Harbor (Maryland) from August 30 - September 3," said Muwanga.

Muwanga is upbeat that the project is achievable just like similar projects by different immigrant groups. He cites the scenario of the privately held Panda Restaurant group, one of the most recognizable Chinese restaurant chains in the world, started by Asian immigrants Peggy Cherng and husband Andrew Cherng.

"Panda operates 1,800 eateries and employs 26,000 people. It reached $2.2 billion in revenue in 2015. This is we can do with our Ugandan cuisine," he says.

He also cites the Texas-De Brazil steakhouse brand which has a string of restaurants including a recently launched one in Saudi Arabia.

"Every Texas-De Brazil restaurant uses the time-honored method of grilling meat over charcoal, resulting in savory aroma and exceptional flavor.

The UNAA Causes group argues that through serving Ugandan cuisine to the global customers, this can groom business leaders (Asians are really good at this) and will act as a form of marketing to boost tourism numbers to Uganda.

We want to represent the country out there with the wonderful organic, tasty meals that the country serves," Muwanga reiterates.

While sharing his story on UBC television last year, Chef Extraordinaire Frank Olwoch who was among the selected Ugandan chefs to prepare meals for Queen Elizabeth and delegates during the CHOGM, said one of the delegates got interest and carried him to USA and Mexico in a marketing venture to capture customers with pure African-Ugandan meals. They would later set up a local restaurant in Entebbe for international travelers entering Uganda.

"One thing that shocked me, a gentleman came from Mexico to Uganda looking for me, he saw me at our restaurant in Entebbe and shouted; He is the one! He wanted to taste the food in Uganda from its source," Olwoch said.

Mr Muwanga says that their intention is not any different, they would want to go through food, to capture tourists as they make revenue which in the end will be reinvested into other chains.

In 2016, Mr Sylvester Bbaale, a Ugandan entrepreneur emerged winner in the food truck festival in Copenhagen, Denmark. Bbaale, who owns a truck that vends Ugandan delicacies called UGOOD, was voted ahead of 50 competitors by crowds in Denmark.

UGOOD is a Ugandan food truck which serves healthy and delicious street food, made of ecological ingredients from Uganda.

As a result, the Uganda head of Mission to Nordic States, Kibeedi Zaake gave Sylvester Baale an opportunity to serve Ugandan food on October 9, 2016 during independence celebrations that attracted delegates and diplomats from Danish community and Europe.

Mr Kibeedi called upon Ugandans in diaspora to explore such opportunities as they are the easiest and most impactful ways to market the country.

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