For many startups, taking their businesses to the next level can be challenging. In Uganda, one woman entrepreneur is helping small business owners to increase their production capacity and access finance. Maria Auma, founder of Blue Luxury Investments, is bringing her expertise and investment community to help startups to fulfill their potential.
What does your company do?
BLI is an investment management firm that works with startups in Africa to build sustainable businesses with high impact. We work with entrepreneurs and small businesses to increase their capacity for production and marketing as well as facilitate access to finance. Our investors include angels, venture capitalists and family offices. We also work with deal originators like Adansonia and Orbitt Capital. In the past two years we have worked with women-owned businesses in tech and education including Compusoft Consult and Barlaws Primary and Nursery School in Uganda. We have also worked with agribusiness entreprises introducing them to international platforms in the Middle East and Europe. We are currently reviewing proposals with a number of enterprises in the energy sector in line with our current mandate. Some of our clientele and portfolio companies include Shanikai Dog Trainers, Farmer Centre Uganda, Waterside Wines and Uganda District Website. Currently, we are raising capital for our fund directed at African businesses.
What inspired you to start your company?
Everyday I find inspiration to re-start our company. The reason I got into the finance world was because I realised that access to capital was a major constraint to business growth in Africa. I started moonlighting while working at my previous job in engineering and project management consultancy. At the time I was brokering deals in real estate with investors in the diaspora and Ugandans. I soon realised that there was this pool of resources only redirected at real estate and money was flowing into one sector. Then in mid-2016, I attended a think-tank conference in Rwanda and was amazed by the investment gap that was prevalent in African growth. There were a number of significant figures and organisations present including the UN, Dalberg, the World Bank, Africa Business Group and H.E. President Paul Kagame. That experience bore in me a resolution to redefine BLI's objectives and mission. From there it has been an amazing journey of experiences.
Why should anyone use your service or product?
At BLI we invest our own time, energy and money into the companies we work with. This is why investors trust us, because they know that we have skin in the game as well and are not simply soliciting for support without giving up anything on our end. We are active partners and ensure that the businesses we work with get the very best advice to not only make them investor ready but also increase their market share in their respective sectors. Market share is important because it is what determines sales and ensures sustainable growth.