My time here in Uganda has come to an end. I can not put into words how much the children, teachers and the director family at the Ssenyange school has given to me. All the love, joy, fighting spirit and the exhange of knowledge we have had. As each day passes, it becomes more clear that I have definately chosen the right path for myself. To focus on social enterprise, to be a part of this essential movement of integrating social and sustainable change into the business model. Here, I can to the fullest use my drive, my energy and my strong will to make a difference in the long run.
It has a meaning.
To take the big leap and start my own social enterprise, Northmans, is the absolute best decision I have ever taken. In spite of that I am only in the beginning of the startup I have already met many inspiring people, made new fruitful connections and learned a lot more about myself in just three months than I have within the last years.
Northmans will intertwine e-commerce/retail and social sustainable change by offering home and lifestyle products where every purchase results in a contribution given to one of our development partners focusing on charities and nonprofit projects in developing countries. It will be within Northmans’s DNA that everything we do we do with compassion and for a worthy cause. There should be no doubt about our vision and together with our customers we will be a part of building a better tomorrow.
I am of the strong belief that a business must use it’s power to be socially responsible and give back.
In order for human development projects to be sustainable and work in the long-term we must invest. A steady flow of money is required and the devoted people in the field must be allowed to focus on what they do best instead of worrying about the next payment. One big part of that steady flow of money is available from businesses. Even a small company that gives just some percent of it’s profit can contribute and make a greater social impact than one may think and also gain a lot of it in return in other areas, a win-win situation. It is not only about the money. Communication is vital and must reach out to the internal and external stakeholders so that it becomes an important and natural matter for all. We are all part of the same world and we must reconcile and help each other out to find ways to make things better.
I have high ambitions for what I wish and want to accomplish with Northmans and I also have a vision in an even bigger perspective. Some might say that it is big talk for someone who has never run her own business before and who has just reached the startup stage. But in order to succeed I must live in the belief that it is possible and that I have the ability to achieve my vision. How can I otherwise find the motivation if I start off by doubting myself or the cause? I am aware of that it is going to be tough. I might not know how tough but that is probably for the best. I am also aware of that I will have to sacrifice many things that for some people are hard to understand. But that is ok. We are all different and we make our own choices of paths and for me this is the right path for me to walk.
During my time here in Uganda I have had several insights on a personal, business and spiritual level. In opposite to what some may say would be good, my work defines me. Because for me, it includes all the different levels mentioned above. I have had many discussions with friends not understanding how I can put so much energy and time into ”just” a job. But my work is my hobbie, it is my biggest interest. It always has been. When I improve and reach new knowledge or meet new people within my work, I also improve on a personal level and vice versa. Of course, it has been times when it has been way too much and not always fun but in the long run it has been so rewarding and my own choice to push myself even more. I have met people thanks to my work that later has become close friends and mentors and who has given me important pieces to my self development puzzle.
During my years I have never really felt satisfied or in harmony. Always felt that something has been missing, that I have been standing still and waiting for something else, something bigger. Many times the thought ”is this all?” has struck me and it has frightened me and making me go up the wall. If I had really listen to my inner voice I would have heard it telling me that I was just on the wrong path and that I needed to change course. But I played it safely, I went for the things that ”I am suppose to want and do”.
Writing this I am in Kampala. I made a small change in my travel plan since I one late night two weeks ago started to source local suppliers in Uganda for future references. Not expecting to find anyone so fast, I indeed found a very interesting community project for women and children in need, Project Have Hope. After making some research and having a very good communication with the Director I yesterday visited the community project in Acholi Quarters situated on one of Kampala’s many hills. And it seems that I have found my first supplier in a developing country with focus on sustainable social change a lot sooner than I had anticipated!
So, no more safe play. It gives me neither the thrill nor motivation in life. I could not be more excited than I am right now about the adventure I have ahead of me and I am really happy and grateful for every one of you who are there for me and supports me along the way. Thank you. Or, to use one of the beautiful Lugandan words I have learned;