Startup of the Week: Musana Carts - The Street Vending Revolution

Uganda is currently suffering from elevated levels of youth unemployment and many of the reasons for this stem from the inability to grow their business to sustain their livelihoods. Musana Carts offers a path to a sustainable, reliable income through street vending.

In Kampala, like most of Africa's urban areas, street vendors make a living selling food and drinks. With the right support, small food vending businesses can build a clean, legitimate and dependable working environment. The current economic climate is such that with this help, micro-entrepreneurs can find success easily as a result of a burgeoning middle class and a lively culture that promotes social gatherings and informal eating habits.

Low income, self-employed earners find it difficult to break into the formal economy due to, amongst other things, a lack of seed capital, poor existing business models and practices, and no clear route to legal licensing.  Musana Carts addresses these issues, offering street vending carts on a rent-to-own scheme, offering key training on how to run a business, providing financial advice and help to enable people to earn a better living.

Related: Startup of the Week: Coupon Book – a Low-Cost Advertising Ugandan Startup

Musana Carts offer low-income earners a path to self-employment under the umbrella of an organisation fighting for and helping them.  Musana Carts sets them on a path to business ownership whilst offering help and advice to speed up their progress.

Unlike other businesses and startups, Musana Carts not only measures its success basing on figures such as individual and total vendor sales revenue and profit, but also metrics such as street food customer satisfaction, cleanliness of carts, vendor quality of life and work-life balance.

According to Angus Marjoribanks, Field Operations Manager for Musana Carts;

All our vendors are showing profit growth, up to 200%, having taken possession of a Musana Cart.  This is incredible progress, showing that our theory is working and that people are seeing huge benefits. We plan to have more than quadrupled our presence in Uganda within a year.  With this comes a drastic growth in impact on our target demographic, with extra profit earned as a result of Musana Carts, reaching $250,000 per year.

A Musana Cart is a movable cart fitted with an eco-stove for cooking and a solar panel pviding light and a provision for a mini-fridge. It was developed by an incredibly diverse team of 3 passionate social entrepreneurs. Manon Lavaud as the strategic lead, Nataliey Bitature as the Head of Operations and Keisuke Kubota as the head of branding and marketing.

Musana Carts' biggest areas of impact are job creation – creating employment for up to 3 vendors per cart, reduced carbon emission and fire hazards, solar energy to provide power, helping the vendors to be legally recognised by the authorities, ensuring food safety and generating sustainable and reliable income.

[caption id="attachment_1559" align="aligncenter" width="1500"]Musana Carts Detailed Illustration of a Musana cart[/caption]

Musana Carts was recently accepted into the Unreasonable Institute East Africa to help take their business to the next level. They have also received generous funding from OpenIdeo to help develop rigorous testing methods to ensure that they offer the best possible product and service and to help kickstart a larger rollout of carts across Kampala.

We can’t wait to see how these new funding streams and business support push Musana Carts towards much bigger and much better things in the coming years.

Also read: Top 6 Collaboration Tools for Ugandan Startups on a Lean Budget

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