Rehmah Kasule is CEO of Century Marketing and Founder of CEDA International; Kampala, Uganda

Words of Wisdom: “Never ask why did this happen? Ask, how can we overcome it?” – Rehmah Kasule

Interview with Rehmah Kasule is CEO of Century Marketing and Founder of CEDA International; Kampala, Uganda

Rehmah Kasule is CEO of Century Marketing and Founder of CEDA International; Kampala, Uganda

Rehmah Kasule is a Chartered Marketer and a fast-track Entrepreneur running her own marketing agency, Century Marketing for over 14 years building local and international brands. She is the founder of CEDA International specializing in mentoring, leadership and social entrepreneurship. She is a Mentor and a Certified Enterprise Development Consultant with International Trade Centre supporting trade and export development. She spearheaded the designing of the National Export Strategy – Gender Dimension, which mainstreams women into the export sector.

With the vision of “creating a new generation of women leaders” she empowers girls and women to become economically independent and socially responsible. She runs special income generating programs for women, youth, people living with HIV/AID and rural communities. She was recognized for her work in women empowerment at the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship hosted by President Barack Obama in Washington DC in 2009.

Rehmah is a role model for women and has been recognized both in her community and internationally for her leadership, innovations for community solutions and enriching of the education system. Rehmah is an internationally known motivational speaker on topics such as finding the realyou, personal and business branding, marketing, leadership, mentorship and developing competitiveness for woman-owned business.

Rehmah is also an Award winner of TIAW World of Difference Award 2011 –  awarded Oct. 2011 for Entrepreneurship.

Rehmah Kasule ~ YouTube promo video (approx. 2 min.)

Century Marketing website: www.centurymarketing.co.ug 

CEDA website: www.cedauganda.org

Rehmah Kasule is CEO of Century Marketing and Founder of CEDA International; Kampala, Uganda

Note: The key messages in the interview have been transcribed and slightly altered for legibility and succinctness. More information is provided in the audio and video version above. Please comment on the site, we want to hear your wisdom!

[ Suzanne F Stevens ]: Why did you leave the corporate world and become an entrepreneur?

[ Rehmah Kasule ]:

  • I knew my wings were to big to fit into someone’s else’s office

[ Suzanne F Stevens ]:What were the first steps when you started your business?

[ Rehmah Kasule ]:

  • Because I had no money I had to ask for assistance. I asked for furniture, and the basics to get me operating.
    • I also had experience in the advertising business, so I had creditability with my clients who had the confidence in my ability. Many soon became my clients at my new company.

[ Suzanne F Stevens ]:What was the catalyst for starting National Export strategy?

[ Rehmah Kasule ]:

  • When national export strategy was designed it was not gender sensitive
  • Everything was general not specific to women
  • Women contribute approx. 38% to export and they have unique challenges

[ Suzanne F Stevens ]: Challenges?

[ Rehmah Kasule ]:

  • Training for exporters – when put in hotel over a period of time it is difficult for a woman since she has responsibilities to her family.
    • Often her business is smaller and therefore she wears several hats. She is the owner, accountant and manager …plus. It is very difficult to leave your business for two weeks to learn new techniques.
    • Affirmative actions, we created 50% of the training have to be women
    • Some women have businesses but they are not well educated in customs and trade policies. They don’t know how to fill out forms.
    • They don’t know the legal systems
    • They don’t have a business strategy, even though they are product ready
    • Sometimes products are getting returned for a variety of reasons and they are not prepared for the return or what caused the customer to return it.

[ Suzanne ]: What are some of things a woman would need to know to get into the export market?

[ Rehmah ]: What products are selling internationally? A lot of people don’t know and assume their product will sell. This is a big mistake.

  • Don’t reinvent the wheel. If someone is successful, follow what they are doing
  • Don’t have to just follow what women are doing; follow what men are doing too i.e. Getting involved in coffee production.

Export market

Intercontinental trade:

  • It is increasing for Uganda between:
    • Uganda to Kenya
    • Uganda to Rwanda
    • Uganda to Southern Sudan
    • A lot of exporters look to
      • European Union
      • United States because of AGOA

How to become export ready

QQTC – is key to be export ready – If you have this you will be ready to go into the export market

  1. Q – You have to have the right quality
  • People want consistency of quality
  • It is a real balance
  • It is important to test to ensure you get the right balance of quality to quantity
  1. Q – Have the right quantities
  2. C – Set the right Cost
  3. T – Deliver the right time.

Now using these four areas there needs to be a balance:

  • Having the right quality to quantity to ensure profitability.
  1. It is difficult to balance and it differs from market to market and product to product.
  2. Be careful not to invest too much in the quality that you can’t fulfill quality requirements profitably.
  3. If you fulfill the quantity and don’t have the quality it will affect your future repeat business.
  • It is important to test to ensure you get the right balance of quality to quantity

Trade Association to assist in learning about the export market

The Uganda Export Promotion Board – which promotes exports www.ugandaexportsonline.com/
Uganda Coffee Development Authority www.ugandacoffee.org/
Tea Development Authority http://ugatea.com/

Different sectors have different associations for exporting

Why export?

There is a lot of money in exporting

  • Especially in larger products
  • Arts and crafts / textiles and
  • Coffee

If you are going to go to Western market, how do you know the level of quality required to sell your products?

  • We encourage attending international trade fairs to gain the international perspective on the quality
  • We tell our clients, when creating products don’t think about Africa quality and design, think of the market you are exporting to, what do they want?
    • This is really important in fashion accessories
    • Create consistency within the quality in each item manufactured i.e. all beads on a necklace should be the same size
    • Consider the colours that are in various markets. What are people wearing next season? Know trends for each market China? India? US?

Which countries do you think provides the best opportunity for export for Uganda?

European Union and United States

Which products has the most potential for export

  • Coffee is one of the best because you can add value to it
    • Sell just the beans
    • Roast
    • Grind
    • Roast, Grind and pack
    • It has a shelf life

What is the most rewarding aspect of your career?

Supporting women to start their own businesses

  • We start with ‘who you are as a person?’ to identify business opportunities.
  • My service is about sharing information

If you were to attribute your success to one thing, what would it be?

  • The love my mother showed me
    • As the youngest of 12 and I was often called lazy, a baby…
    • My mom always said “my baby is special, something will come out of her”

What has been the biggest challenge in your career and how did you overcome it?

  • Learning not to live and conform to what people think
    • I.e. Quitting my job to become an entrepreneur
    • I knew I had to do things differently

Have you ever conducted an initiative that didn’t work & what did you learn from that experience?

  • Often. I often have what I believe to be a groundbreaking idea that I would like to share with the women I coach. I am excited about the prospect of sharing it with them, and then they don’t turn up.
  • Or sometimes they turn up and then they decide not to implement the suggestions
  • How I deal with it is, now I control my expectations by invited 10 people, and if four turn up and two implement – then I have been successful!

How do you reflect on the success of a project?

Pre initiatives

  • I get my clients involved,
    • Get their ideas of what they want to achieve
    • What we can do?
    • How can we do it best?

Measure the success of execution

  • I ask them:
    • How we do move forward?
    • What have we achieved?
    • What have we done wrong?
    • What have we succeeded in?
    • How can we be better?
    • How can we spread it to more people i.e. How can we teach the skill to someone else?

What are you natural gifts?

  • Mentoring
  • Writing and I encourage people to write

What advice can you give to people to find their own gifts?

Your gifts are your birthday gifts.
A Canadian speaker once said “99% of people die without opening their birthday gift,” this is inspired me to help people find their birthday gifts.

I take people through self discover processes:

  • Who am I as a person?
  • What are my passions?
  • What are my values?
  • What do I stand for?

Once they discover themselves, I encourage them to dream.

  • Dream about what you want to become
  • Where do you want to go
  • The people you want to see

Then you need to design how to achieve those dreams

  • People often people don’t want to design
  • Once they do design, people need to develop certain skills, characters and habits
  • You need these criteria to propel you to you destiny

Edgeness Insight (An enhanced version of you when you push the edge of your comfort zone). What is something that you are uncomfortable doing, but you need to continue to do, in order to make you as successful as you are?

Saying No to people.

What has been the biggest obstacle to get to this point?

  • Being an African Women entrepreneur, you have to swim with the sharks without been eaten.
  • Another is corruption in our country. You can’t get certain jobs done because you can’t play the game. Sometimes this causes you to loose business.

What does success mean to you?

  • Being happy, being healthy, being consistent with what I have.
    • Success is about giving to others.

How do you define leadership?

It is about empowering other people around you.

Leadership Lessons Learned – Rehmah Kasule

  1. Communication – as a leader if you do not listen to what people are saying you are leading blindly.
  2. Communication – you need to talk to people, give people information
  3. Communication –What are they communicating to you?  How is the communication following?

Communication needs to be clear, concise and consistent allowing easy execution. (sfs)

How can people communicate more effectively?

  1. People need to seek advice
  2. Listening what people are saying: what do they want? What do they think? You need to understand this prior to putting a recommendation forward.
  3. You need to be very good with writing and speaking. Women often don’t know how to present their message
    1. Uganda and Muslim women are often taught not to speak up. We are quite. Because of our culture we don’t speak up when we have an idea, while a guy will. Next thing you know he receives a promotion. We are at a disadvantage due to our culture.

How have you taken your success and multiple it and expanded on it?

  • I started CEDA international which focuses on teaching on how to do a business
  • With the unemployment in Uganda, people have to be more job creators than job seekers
  • Mentoring people, we have mentoring clubs has helped leverage on success
  • I have also written a book (You can find Rehmah’s book (From Gomba to the White House, the journey of an African Woman Entrepreneur) in stores in Uganda and Kigali)

Advice from a mother

“Never ask why did this happen? Ask, how can we overcome it?”

One thing you would do differently in pursuit of your success?

I almost lost my life, because I was so focused on being successful. I encourage people to never focus on the success as the end goal.  My family went through a lot.

What is next for you?

  1. I want to concentrate on my family more
  2. I want to concentrate on my faith more
  3. I want every girl in Uganda to be empowered.  We need to create a new generation of women leaders. I am going to build a leadership institute the first in Uganda.

Reflective Realizations from Rehmah Kasule

Q. What advice would you give to your 10 yr. old Daughter?

Believe in yourself.

Q What do you wish you were told at 10yrs?

Believe in yourself.

Words of Wisdom by Rehmah Kasule

  1. Believe in yourself
  2. Discover the real you
  3. Dream big
  4. Above everything, we need to mentor other women

 


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    4 replies to "Rehmah Kasule"

    • wafula romeo

      Hi boss its been very long, but with all this under your archive it was a blessing going through your hands to make me who I am now. I salute you and all the stuff I learned at century marketing. It was short lived but time well spent. Wish you the best and yes you can God bless you Romeo

      • Rehmah

        Hi Romeo,
        Great to hear from you. hope all is well. Keep flying till you reach for the stars.

    • Madina Nakibirige

      It is a very interesting interview. The idea of empowering girls and women to become economically independent and socially responsible is definitely the way to go. From experience, the feeling that one’s wings are too big to fit into someone else’s office is the easy part; taking the next step is definitely an uphill task!

      I love the advice that “Never ask why did this happen? Ask, how can we overcome it?” Many times, this should be a necessary step to move forward. We live in a society where there seems to be a never-ending supply of critics and complainers just waiting to state what is wrong and why things are the way they are. This is why I am fond of the 4 D cycle (discover, dream, design and destiny) that emphasizes a positive approach to change and hence enables us to move away from negation, criticism and spiraling diagnosis. Good luck Rehmah!

    • Bob

      Rehma
      Very impressive and keep up the good work you are doing, Uganda and Ugandan youth will benefit alot from the wealth of information you posses and the willingness to pass it on to the youth.
      Bob

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