Thursday, January 24, 2013

Richard Turley - 2 million to 1

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The work begins.....

Our second day in Kampala was filled with meeting our Ugandan colleagues at the Ugandan Cooperative Alliance (UCA) and working on the 'coach toolkit' that we are to use in the field to assess the SACCOs.

The day started off with a bang - Kampala style! As we walked down to the UCA from our hotel, it was hard not to be overwhelmed by the crowded streets and the cacophonic, congested traffic. The boda boda's (Uganda motorbike taxis) are absolutely everywhere and constantly offering their services - despite having seen you just decline ride from another boda boda. One of the coaches almost got run over - he had the audacity to use a cross walk when it was his turn. All other Kampalan pedestrians seem to simply step out into traffic and weave their way across. No kidding, it looks like a life size version of Frogger.
The meeting was held in a boardroom at UCA. Thankfully, we got there first and snagged a seat by the little window AC unit. We quickly learned that African time was no exaggeration. After an hour of sitting around, we finally got to business.

It was interesting to see the cultural differences in business culture in Uganda. People were answering their cellphones during the meeting, putting their head down on the table and appeared to be falling asleep in their chair. Amazingly, if they were directly called upon, it was as if they had total focus and could provide relevant comments/insights. Despite this, I am sure some of them were sleeping.

One of the older UCA coaches, Gabriel, had the most serious demeanor. When his phone rang, the ringer was set very, very high... A DJ shouts "ARE YOU SERIOUS?????? and the ringtone started blaring club music.... it was so funny due to the contradiction of his ringtone and his persona.... all the CCA coaches couldn't help but laugh out loud. Keeping in his serious demeanor, Gabriel appeared not to notice the laughter. Gabriel is my UCA partner and I can't stop laughing when his phone goes off. I have noticed that it only goes off for certain callers - I wonder who it is? I will try to find a link and share it on a subsequent blog.

During the walk home, we had a chance to spend some time in some shops. People were super helpful and patient with us. We were looking for a specific male to male USB connector. When we asked in one store, they said that the didn't have it but could get it by 10am the next day. We explained that that wouldn't work as we wouldn't have time to stop by before we headed out to the Nebbi region. The next day, in a city of 2 million people, the salesperson found us on a sidewalk 4 blocks from his store at 8am with this damn cable. I was astounded by his resourcefulness and willingness to take a chance to earn a few bucks. Unbelievable.


  1. It has been a couple of years since I have been to Uganda and I love getting to read about it through your eyes. I thought it was interesting that you commented on cultural difference from Canadian to Ugandans, particularly the heads on tables and eyes closed. I have learned that that is actually a sign of respect and deep concentration, they are shutting out all other sights and sounds so that they can concentrate entirely on the speaker.

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