Sourcing Paper Bead Jewelry in Uganda

Flying from Accra to Kampala, we traveled through … Dubai!

Our options for this segment were not ideal, since there are no direct flights. The four options were:  spending the night in the Nairobi airport for a 4 am departure (hmm… not so good); spending the night in the Lagos airport (ugh!); traveling through Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) with a long middle of the night layover (again… not so attractive); or flying a bit further on Emirates with a three hour 6 – 9 am stop in Dubai. As all the choices were the same price, we opted for the Dubai route.

When we landed in Kampala, we were met by a driver who took us to Jinja, a bustling town on Lake Victoria. This is where the Nile River starts its long journey. We checked into our peaceful guesthouse and crashed.

The next morning, we set up shop! With the help of a local Rastafarian guy (“Rasta Man”), we set up the printer we purchased for our team and began testing the printing of the paper in school colors.

Setting Up the Printer with Rasta Man
Setting Up the Printer with Rasta Man

We met with Gerald, our “on-the-ground supervisor” and mapped out our strategy for the week.

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First stop was the bustling printing section of Kampala. Here we met with a print broker and produced some excellent digital print samples. Color matching is one of the key challenges in the RahRah4Good business model.

Getting Paper in the Right Colors in the Print District of Kampala
Getting Paper in the Right Colors in the Print District of Kampala

 

 

We took these samples back to the Walakuba village, where the ladies who manage our bead-making cooperative were looking forward to the challenge of our project. They carefully made sample beads out of each test sheet, and we discussed the modifications needed to make each bead even more attractive. The paper bead making process is quite an art. The ladies know just how to cut the strips and roll them to make the desired outcome.

Testing with Paper in the Right Colors
Testing with Paper in the Right Colors
Jan and the Bead Ladies Reviewing Designs
Jan and the Bead Ladies Reviewing Designs

We discussed the various designs of the beads and selected the optimum line of jewelry for our initial run. Ed and Betty worked together on the PhotoShop files with print patterns that will create interesting beads

Ed and Bette Reviewing and Modifying the Photoshop files
Ed and Bette Reviewing and Modifying the Photoshop files

The ladies were lovely and very enthusiastic. These five gals each oversee a group of 10 ladies who will do our production as business grows.

Leaders of the Bead Cooperative
Leaders of the Bead Cooperative

To supplement our custom-printed paper, we took a trip to the recycled paper market in Kampala. Here we tried to find correct colors that are close to the colors of our target universities. We ended up leaving with about 100 pounds of recycled paper, typically overruns of corporate or governmental brochures.

Shopping for Recycled Paper in Kampala
Shopping for Recycled Paper in Kampala
Checking Out at the Recycled Paper Market in Kampala
Checking Out at the Recycled Paper Market in Kampala
Delivering our Recycled Paper Purchases  to Our Car
Delivering our Recycled Paper Purchases to Our Car

 

Our 10 days in Uganda (7 in Jinja and 3 in Kampala) went by quickly. We were very pleased with the relationships we developed and the progress we made on RahRah4Good. The ladies created six samples of each item in each color and then they shipped them in a bag on a bus to Kigali (where we picked them up at the bus station!)

Receiving Delivery of our Beads at the Kigali Bus Station
Receiving Delivery of our Beads at the Kigali Bus Station

We are very pleased with the results.

RR4G University of Texas Samples
RR4G University of Texas Samples
RR4G Texas A&M Samples
RR4G Texas A&M Samples

4 thoughts on “Sourcing Paper Bead Jewelry in Uganda

  1. Majda Jones

    Wow, Jan and Ed! What a lot of progress your team and you have made. The samples look terrific. I am wondering, where are the Stanford samples??

    Reply
  2. Dan Stinchcomb

    Great looking beads; gorgeous! You guys are making impressive progress. When are you visiting Colorado State and University of Colorado?

    Reply

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