Meet Douglas Rubangakene, a Ugandan social entrepreneur or as he says “I am a young go-getter, fully determined and inspirational.” He grew up and lives in Uganda in the town of Kitgum district (once a war zone area) and loves loves sports and Music.
In 2017 he started a social enterprise named Ruba Media specializing quality music and audio production and distribution. It operates from the Ruba Studio Bukasa – Muyenga in the Ugandan capital of Kampala. Ruba Media also hosts and partners events across Uganda and is managed and controlled through a structure of departments run by members of staff who report to Douglas. These include event planning and organization, video and music production, marketing and sales and accounts. Ruba currently, employs a total of eleven people, five in Kampala and six across the country.
Douglas was driven to Ruba Media because of his love of music and the performing arts. From High school onwards he was a professional event organizer and this led him start a music studio with a mission to promote community music. Douglas strongly believes that promoting music within communities brings about positive, long lasting and life changing experiences.
As a studio Ruba works in a range of music artists to develop music that can be heard and enjoyed by everyone. It is Ruba’s vision to guide and support artists in such a positive way that not only their names and music shines but it is also educational to the listeners. Douglas strongly believes that community music breaks down barriers between people and cultures. It enables people to take part in social activities that builds their confidence, skills an d breaks down loneliness and isolation.
Setting up Ruba studios has not been without its issues especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many performances and events have been cancelled until at least 80% of the community is vaccinated. Most of Ruba’s clients are some distance from Kampala and are currently needing a lot of support to get through the pandemic. Regretably, Ruba has had to reduced the number of staff since the outbreak began and this has meant an increased workload for those that have maintained their positions. The number of musicians using the studio and making other recording deals has fallen too.
The Covid situation has also brought about some innovations and Ruba has introduced a mobile studio enabling it to move across the country and assist clients to continue to produce themselves and quality music. Ruba’s recording fees have been reduced below the market rate to enable newcomers to the industry and existing signed artists a platform to showcase their talent. Ruba also enables them to perform at different events as they grow their brand name.
Unlike other players in the music industry Ruba also has social and educational aims because the staff love to work to change the mindsets of the community towards music and encourage people to see music as a talent and a professional activity and not just as a leisure activity. Douglas works hard to communicate the importance of integrating music into the community and changing the cultural bias against performing artists.
Douglas’s next big project is to open a music school that will nurture the vulnerable and the young to realize their talents in different fields including singing, playing instruments, being lyricists as well as performing artists.
Ruba studios has plans to change the world as well as people’s perceptions by engaging more in events activities so that artists get more exposure to the community and earn more with their work. Through the music school it wants to change the cultural bias in the community through nurturing successful talents who will become role models in their communities. Ruba pays wages to it’s musicians and staff as well impacting the community through producing quality educational music that teaches them about culture, social life, among others. These wages come through different events that we host including music shows, festivals and music listening sessions.
More recently, Ruba has begun to have a different impact on the community and the environment in supporting and carrying out campaign projects to sensitize the community by engaging with local council leaders, volunteering to support young talent, creating awareness on sexual reproductive health and talking in the community about domestic violence. Ruba also works with different individuals to start a group saving scheme like SACCO* which enables an individual to acquire loans for self-support and business boost and that has caused great impact within the members. In addition to this Ruba identifies talent through community shows, signs them into our record label and exposes them to different role models in different fields. As a consequence many customers see Ruba studios as a home to them. Ruba has been opening up to the wider community by doing shows and engaging with local radio calling for fresh talent which can lead to the best being given contracts and other support.
The biggest obstacle facing Ruba Media remains the health situation around Covid and as this gradually improves Ruba will be able to get back into the community, discovering new talent and doing the work it loves.
*Savings and Credit Co-operative Organisation