KAMPALA, March 1, 2017 – After graduating from university in 2005 with a marketing degree, 23-year old Caroline Khaukha Neumbe decided to pursue her passion for art. In 2006, she opened Neumbe Afro Crafts Limited. Soon afterward, her handcrafted cowhorn pieces became popular with tourists on the local scene, and she knew she could make more money from the international art market. But there was one problem.
“Accessing finance for small businesses like ours is a challenge, and the cost of borrowing money from the commercial banks is way too high,” said Neumbe.
That changed in 2016, when she obtained a $6,000 matching grant through the Competitiveness and Enterprise Development Project (CEDP), and was able to participate in two trade expos in South Korea, and in Canada, which greatly boosted her sales.
“With the available funds, I prepared well,” she said. “I developed my promotional materials, publicized my products and engaged with targeted customers ahead of the Expo. Exposure to the different international exhibitions also challenged me to become more innovative. As a result, we have developed new products that are not only popular for the international market, but also amongst our local clientele”.
Since December 2016, Neumbe has exported two consignments of assorted crafts worth $8,000 to Canada, and expects to ship others very soon. Overall, she said her sales have increased from UGX 55 million to UGX 80,000 million ($15,000-$22,000). She said her local raw material suppliers are happy due to increased demand for her products. With the breakthrough to the international market, Neumbe said she is optimistic it is only a matter of time before she becomes one of the world’s leading exporters of African art and crafts.