Total loan: $10,000


Bethesda, MD, United States / Food

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A loan helped fund the redesign and purchase of updated packaging, so that we can better position ourselves with national grocery chains and grow our reach.

Renee's story

I grew up in Bethesda, MD and attended Wesleyan University for my BA, graduating with a dual degree in Economics and the interdisciplinary major known as the College of Social Studies. I had the opportunity to study abroad and conduct field research for my thesis in Uganda, researching the political economy of entrepreneurship in Kampala. I spent time interviewing graduates of the top Entrepreneurship Programs at local universities, as well as several entrepreneurs, farmers groups, and program managers at local NGOs/MFIs. Through these interactions and my daily experiences on the streets of Kampala, I observed that while hustle and natural resources seemed abundant, there was limited to no local value addition. The rich agricultural sector seemed untapped, and local business was competitive and redundant. Farmers undersold themselves for quick money; entrepreneurs traded raw materials instead of aspiring toward innovation or differentiation; the few manufacturers that existed made the same pulps and dried fruits, without a particular quality or market in mind. The result: high unemployment, food waste, and transient businesses that may grow personal income, but would fail to improve overall economic development and quality of business. While I learned many reasons for this, I figured one way to shift this was to essentially BE the market demand. Enter Amäzi, the brand that would connect uniquely Ugandan products to the U.S. market. My vision is to create shifts in the way Uganda - and ultimately other developing economies - participate in trade; encouraging them to take ownership of value addition, as opposed to handing off production and innovation to other economies. I want to pave a path for international opportunities through local supply chains, so that they too might compete in the ever-growing food industry.