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The Story of Good African Coffee - Andrew Rugasira

25 February 2013

Rathbone Greenbank Investments was delighted to sponsor a talk by Andrew Rugasira at the Festival of Ideas held at the Watershed in Bristol.

In 2003 Andrew Rugasira founded Good African Coffee in his native Uganda.  His vision was to be the first African-owned coffee brand to be stocked in UK supermarkets and by US retailers.  He has recently written a book ‘A Good African Story’ about his experiences in delivering an African coffee  brand to the global market ,setting  out why he believes trade has been successful where aid has failed.

Andrew simply told us his story – that of an African entrepreneur. He delivered an articulate and eloquent talk recounting  the development of his company, the challenges he faced and  tried to overcome.

Andrew gave three main reasons as to why he wrote the book; firstly, stories about African enterprise are rarely published, compared to the numerous well documented stories of entrepreneurs in the UK and the US.  Secondly, he wanted to give an empirical point of view on the problems of delivering business from Africa not just theoretical discussion. Finally, he simply hoped to encourage entrepreneurs in Uganda and the rest of the African continent
Andrew answered many questions from the audience, several relating to aid and how this can be put to best use. 

He outlined his belief that stimulating growth in the private sector in Africa will be more successful than ploughing capital into the public sector,  and how entrepreneurs in Uganda  need to  have an enabling environment which is lacking at present.  Andrew gave an example of the progress of business  in South Korea.  He explained that there is no country which has prospered through handouts alone, which ultimately undermine dignity.   Andrew believes that the onus needs to be put on African governments to find sustainable solutions to the problems in Africa and to promote independent ways of solving their problems.

The evening left the audience with a desire to know more.  It provided a thought provoking glimpse into what the future could be for Africa, if local sustainable development is encouraged and enabled.

Reported by Catherine Naughton.

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