At this year’s festival slated for August 30 to September 3 in Washington DC, the Uganda North America Association (UNAA) Causes, wants to do things differently.
This group of Ugandans living in North America will use the upcoming annual convention to tout their native country’s products. David Muwanga, the chief executive officer of UNAA Causes, says they will use the scheduled culture and fashion shows to infuse their entrepreneurial agenda.
After last year’s festival, the group leaders formed an Entrepreneurship Club, which has since crystalized an investment programme.
“We are seriously looking at the possibility of starting a restaurant chain offering Ugandan foods. Such a venture will not only bring revenue to our motherland but also promote the image and brand of Uganda,” Muwanga explained in an interview with The Observer online.
He said some Asian and Ethiopian communities in the diaspora have successfully used such gatherings to market their native products such as traditional foods while growing the economies back home.
Ugandans in the Diaspora sent home more Shs 4 trillion in remittances by the end of last year, according to Bank of Uganda estimates.
In comparison to their Asian and Ethiopian counterparts in the diaspora, Muwanga notes that Ugandans have not bothered to do businesses that promote their country.
“For instance, why don’t we have any Ugandan food restaurant on the main streets of major cities in the US? You can only find Ethiopian and Indian eateries; so, we want to venture there as a group and exploit the opportunities,” Muwanga said.
Founded in 2013, UNAA Causes’ annual convention has grown by leaps and bounds, becoming one of the most popular diaspora gatherings in North America.
Previously, such diaspora meetings have been used by politicians and national parastatals to promote their interests. However, UNAA Causes Chairman James Sserumaga says they will offer an alternative approach at this year’s event, with emphasis on delegates enjoying their holiday as they network.
During the three-day event, delegates will enjoy a cruise dinner, a culture and fashion show as well as live music performances from Ugandan artistes. Organisers have also lined up a tour option around Washington’s key landmarks, including the White House, National Museum of African Americans, National Mall, National Air & Space Museum, among others.
“We will not have the usual long speeches from politicians and others because we want people to get value for their money,” Sserumaga said.
The fashion show will feature Uganda’s local designers such as Santa Anzo, Anita Beryl Ahikiriza and Fatuma Nakaziba as well as regional competitors from Rwanda and Kenya.