Feature: Amumpaire's story of juggling hardware business online

Growing up, Vaoloh Amumpaire never at any one time engaged in any entrepreneurial activity. Her life mostly rotated around usual activities any young normal child in Uganda would engage themselves in.


She says the thought of being an entrepreneur never crossed her mind then. Instead, she engaged in activities such as small-scale farming, which, according to her, never yielded into anything.


As a child, I didn’t engage in any entrepreneurial activity. My life as a child was just normal and never got exposed to any kind of business. The idea of being an entrepreneur never crossed my mind then,” she says.

She adds: “Maybe I can say I tried engaging in farming, but it didn’t yield into anything. I didn’t sell my harvest. My father though was into business. He owned a garage and also ran a vocational school.”

Today, 29-year-old Amumpaire stands tall as a Ugandan entrepreneur trying to make a difference. She runs a multi-vendor e-commerce platform called that connects Ugandans in the diaspora and at home to the building and construction items market in Uganda, and also employs about 11 people.


Amumpaire says her first attempt at business was when she was doing brokerage work for welding services in 2017 while still at university. At the time, she was working for Safe Solutions, a firefighting and industrial safety equipment company.

About the brokering welding services, I noticed there was a challenge in finding and managing welders including finding material to be used in welding. So, I decided to start a welder’s brokerage service business to help deal with the challenge,” she says.

She adds: “This business lasted for at least 8 months. Within that time, I managed to expand into other things, that’s when came into the picture.”


Following the troubling stories of Ugandans living in the diaspora being cheated by friends and family, whom they send money to with hope that it would be used to purchase construction materials for their building projects, Amumpaire thought of a solution that would enable them shop all their construction materials conveniently, and have them delivered to their construction sites, hence the birth of


Initially, she discloses, her business only targeted Ugandans living in the diaspora, but later got the attention of Ugandans at home after the COVID-19 pandemic broke out.

When COVID-19 broke out, our business managed to get the attention of Ugandans at home. So, our business moved away from serving only people in the diaspora to Ugandans at home too. COVID-19 was a blessing in disguise on our side,” she says.

She adds: “Our business is mostly online. We are an online mobile app. So, you download the app and access material in retail or bulk. The app also has a calculator that you can use to make calculations. You can also visualize the kind of building you would want to build.”

Starting out in 2018, Amumpaire says she didn’t start with any capital. Instead, she talked to a website developer who helped her develop the website and paid him in installments. today operates in three countries which include: Uganda, Kenya and Zambia.



Having studied a Bachelors’ in International Business at Makerere University Business School, Amumpaire says she has been able to apply what she was taught in school in her business world.

I have been able to at least practice most of the things I was taught in school. I’d say the academic programme gave the base knowledge of doing business at an international level,” she says.

She adds: “Having experience to run business in more than one country is interesting in itself beyond the classroom walls. You get to understand how other countries are doing their business. For me this is helping understand the regional landscape in terms of running businesses.”

Amumpaire says she has also been able to impact people, mostly those who decide to go into business because of the inspiration they get from her story.


In terms of impact, I have been able to impact people who have not directly worked with Wena but who say that got inspiration to join business because of my story,” she says.

She adds: “I have worked with people who I have been able to pass certain skills to. Some have left others have left. I believe that in itself is an achievement.”


Amumpaire says she has found challenges such as people not understanding how online businesses work. As a result, she says, they have not been able to attract the right number of people.

The other challenge, she says, has been the cost and poor internet network that has inconvenienced people.


When people are challenged with the high cost of internet and its poor quality, most will be inconvenienced and therefore decide not to buy,” she says.

She adds: “Online businesses have not been treated equally compared to it other businesses with physical presence. For instance, when looking for financial support its usually harder for online businesses because most people don’t take them seriously.”

Her thoughts on women empowerment

Growing up, Amumpaire says she only felt the impact of societal perceptions of both the male and female sexes when she joined university. She went to school in female single sex schools throughout her life.

It hit me differently when in joined university. That’s when I got to learn that there are certain things a woman and man can do and not do,” she says.


She adds: “For me a woman can do as much as a man can do as long as they have the knowledge, skills and ability and willingness. However, there are challenges as to why women can’t do certain things. Some of these are cultural, the support system around them and self-esteem. All those things determine how far a woman can go. But women should believe that they are capable of doing anything. They should believe that they are capable, deserving and at times even better than men.”

On support to women in entrepreneurship

I believe women in entrepreneurship should be supported, but that support should be given simply because someone is woman. There should be a genuine reason for supporting that woman. A reason such as she has good products, she passionate about what she does or I s knowledge would need extra support to be uplifted,” she says.

On youth unemployment

“To the youth out there, please show up when an opportunity avails itself and do what it takes to earn something however little it may be. But then, the other challenge is that the economy doesn’t have enough money which means that jobs will be less because businesses can only afford to employ a few,” she says.


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