Our reporter in Uganda, Jimmy Oryema Martine recently interviewed three dynamic, young entrepreneurs in Gulu, Uganda about the work they are doing in the hospitality sector.
Butterfly events started in March 2020, right at the verge of the first lock down of COVID-19 in Uganda. It’s co-partnered and managed by three social; entrepreneurs namely Eric Candano, Julius Otto and Brandy Acen Victoria. Together they specialize in events decoration. To get themselves established they started with making pallets and eventually gathered full equipment needed for an event’s company. They now offer the community events like weddings, baby showers, birthdays, corporate parties and other events requested by their community.
Eric is currently a third year student at Makerere University business school and he is also a freelance graphics designer and business entrepreneur. He told us that “Together with Julius and Brandy he identified a gap in the market in Gulu City that led to the idea of creating Butterfly events.” Brandy explained that “Its aim is to introduce an offer of customized, affordable, creative and unique decoration services in the Gulu City community and to be the pioneer of a successful online community business.” Brandy is the accountant, Julius handles P.R and procurement, and Eric is the General Manager. Eric says “It’s the combination of three that makes the system work.”
Julius continued, “Marketing is done online as the founding trio doesn’t yet feel they need a physical location as they go to their client’s homes or offices.” He explained that “ Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and email marketing are the key routes to market. The each meet with clients and discuss what kind of decoration they want and then they design an outline to meets the client’s needs. All three attend all events to make sure everything is coordinated well and it’s moving according to plan.”
They face a number of operational difficulties as clients often break items including wine glasses, places settings and decorations so they cannot be used again. Events like those above are often emotional events for the clients and they often expect a lot with frequent last minute changes so managing cash flow and profitability is very important.
COVID-19 restrictions have been a big blow for the trio since most functions were stopped and those that were able to go ahead were limited to a smaller number of individuals by the Ugandan government.
The supply and increasing price of decorations has created a big hurdle as the supply chain means they have to come to Gulu city from the capital city, Kampala, making them more expensive.
Eric emphasized that “Butterfly works with its communities to educate and encourage people to embrace technology to bridge the digital divide in the community.” The three social entrepreneurs are currently creating an app that will allow people choose from the different creative ideas that we have or customized decoration of their own imagination.
Brandy told us that £To support the environment Butterfly collects and recycles materials from its events and have recently partnered with Taka-Taka plastics to ensure that this is done professionally. They carefully select materials that do not harm the environment and are now trying to source straws that are recyclable. “
Julius went on to say that “Butterfly events support and train young people in how to decorate at events and also become mixologists. One of our training pioneers got himself a full time job as a mixologist at Koch Kweyo drive in bar and restaurant in Gulu city which is a prestigious venue.”
Feedback from customers is very encouraging with work from word of mouth recommendations building because customers are pleased with the quality, professionalism and value of Butterfly’s work. It is very important to the trio to focus on timely delivery and quality creative work as their reputation spreads across Gulu City and beyond.
Good luck to the enterprising trio!