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Cordaid NL
Private Sector Development Uganda

Wine and business recovery: how a young entrepreneur overcomes the COVID-19 crisis

On the surface, Geoffrey Okabo’s wine business in Lira town in Uganda is not different from the others in the area. His small workspace has room for a rudimentary kitchen and a packaging room. Still, whenever he starts talking about Tega Wine, it becomes vivid how innovative his company really is.

“Tega Wine is purely made from ginger, hibiscus and lemon. Currently, it is the only organic alcoholic drink that is affordable and accessible in town. I am happy to produce a locally made, organic and tasty alternative that can rival those cheap, unhealthier beverages out there.”

Strengthening business skills

Through ICCO’s High Flyers project in 2019, Geoffrey’s dream to make a change in his community started to come to life. Training in business plan development, management, marketing, and value addition enabled him to put his meagre resources to strategic use in strengthening the foundation of his micro-enterprise.

“I am happy to produce a locally made, organic and tasty alternative that can rival those cheap, unhealthier beverages out there.”

“Before the lockdown, we produced over 750 litres of wine per month using local equipment and materials. The product landed on the shelves of several local shops, thanks to our door-to-door marketing, and it was becoming very popular. We were already planning to increase our production by 300 litres to meet the demand.”

Recovering from the crisis

Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic unexpectedly threatened Geoffrey’s ambitions when logistics and face-to-face interactions, both key to his social enterprise, were halted to curb the spread of the virus. Thanks to his own resourcefulness and ICCO’s financial and didactic support through the COVID-19 Agribusiness Recovery project, Geoffrey managed to get his business through the crisis.

“Before the pandemic, I had started keeping customer records. I got in touch with them to make door-to-door deliveries.”

“By learning how to access financial means and create a development strategy, I was able to adapt my business to the current situation. Since I could no longer import bottles from Kampala, I identified local suppliers and bought the bottles they had in stock. They were expensive, so I also turned jerricans into smaller bottles for my wine. Also, before the pandemic, I had started keeping customer records. I got in touch with them to make door-to-door deliveries. I hope to improve my wine production and marketing processes in the coming three years, to grow my business further.”

COVID-19 recovery project for young entrepreneurs

Geoffrey is one of 300 young entrepreneurs from Uganda’s Nebbi and Lira districts that have been selected to benefit from recovery grants under the COVID-19 Agribusiness Recovery project. The project is implemented by ICCO, with support from Youth Business International (YBI) and the Standard Chartered Foundation. It seeks to support the recovery and revival of 600 youth enterprises in northern Uganda that were adversely affected by the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cordaid and ICCO joined forces as of January 2021.