by Carly Riemensnider
During my sophomore year at Drake, I studied abroad in Kampala, Uganda. I fell in love with the country and ended up travelling there three separate times while I was in college! I was fascinated by the third world economy in Uganda and desperately wanted to do something to improve the situation there. As a result, I decided to pursue a career in Kampala after graduating.
While studying abroad, I met a well-renowned portfolio entrepreneur, Patrick Bitature. I maintained contact with him throughout my college years, and eventually asked him if he would be willing to create a position for me within one of his companies. I now work as the Personal Assistant to the Chairman of Simba Group of Companies, East Africa!
In this role, I have freedom to pursue many different kinds of work. Simba Group has business in the telecommunications industry, hotels, dairy farming, gold mines, education, and real estate. To say the least, each day is completely different!
Some highlights of my job so far have been working to supply t-shirts for the current President’s campaign for 2016 elections, creating a Kampala Monopoly game, and spending a week on a dairy farm in rural Uganda. I have also had the opportunity to meet His Excellency the President of Uganda through my job, as well as many other influential people in Uganda and East Africa.
When I moved to Kampala in May, it was my goal to eventually settle down and build a life there. I am slowly beginning to learn the local language (Luganda) and making lasting connections with the people I meet. Drake taught me about the value of networking and I can’t emphasize enough how essential networking is in both finding a job and growing as a professional.
I have been in Uganda for more than six months now and am looking forward to several growth opportunities over the next year! In particular, I am working to start my own non-profit organization in Uganda which will work to empower local women by providing them with business training and skills to start their own business. While in training, these women will sew headbands, aprons, dresses, and more from kitenge (traditional East African fabric) which will be sold in the US to provide them with a sustainable income. After completion of their training in our program, the women will have access to microfinance loans to start their own businesses. To read more about Sew Empowered Ministries, visit our development page by clicking here.
For more information about my life in Kampala, please check out my blog at http://carlyinkampala.wordpress.com. I would love to hear from you!