Sometimes, the best reason to start a store is because you’re a shopaholic. At least that’s what Sherifah Tumusiime says. Computer scientist turned entrepreneur, Sherifah’s Baby Store UG is the first specialty retail e-commerce website for baby products and apparel in Uganda.
In addition to this hustle, Sherifah is also the CEO of Zimba Group, an AdTech company that provides technical and software solutions for SMEs. When SLA caught up with Sherifah, we learned what skills multi-taskers need to thrive and what retirement looks like for the Motherland Mogul.
How did you find your way into entrepreneurship?
I’ve always had an affinity for entrepreneurship I think. My first ever venture was selling breakfast waffles to people in my mum’s office. I was 16 at the time.
I’d asked her for an increase in my allowance and she challenged me to think of a way to use whatever I had at my disposal in the house to make money. We had an idle waffle maker so I got cooking and she got selling.
Tell us more about Baby Store UG. Why start a store selling baby products and apparel?
I started the Baby Store in 2012, I have always wanted to have a store —I am a shopaholic. I love shopping. Having a baby informed the decision to make it a baby store.
I started out selling on Facebook and delivering out of the boot of my car in 2012, but that got hectic. I was overwhelmed by orders, so I set up a physical store in a mall in the middle of town. I was still fully employed as well.
Then the overhead costs of the physical location got too high, I was hardly available, and the shop wasn’t really making money. I closed it and moved everything to storage but orders still came in, so I went back to delivering. Then I had the brilliant idea to move from Facebook to a space I could control, my own website.
Why do you think the shop wasn’t making money even as orders still came in?
It was a problem of mismanagement.
I didn’t have enough time to do things like stock taking and inventory sourcing since I was still working full time.
How do you manage running all your hustles?
Honestly, extreme multitasking. I am always doing many things at a go.
It also helps that most of them are aligned in a way and that I am extremely passionate about them. I believe that if you have the will, there is always a way.
What three skills does a woman need to be an extreme multitasker?
- Time management and punctuality. That is really key. If you are not in charge of your time then everything will fall apart easily.
- Discipline, ensure that you complete a task when you set out to do it.
- Attitude, which is not a skill per say but one needs to maintain a positive disposition always. Otherwise, it’s easy to get bogged down by everything that will come your way.
What cheers you up during the days when you’re down?
That’s a no-brainer. My daughter.
As Zimba Women provides business capacity for women entrepreneurs, what have you found women entrepreneurs get wrong when it comes to technology?
It is not what women get wrong but rather a lack of awareness. Most women just simply do not know how technology can be used to better their businesses and I’m not talking about complex things.
For example, just using excel for your book keeping. There are even templates for all sorts of businesses but few people know this and this is an issue that cuts across both sexes but more so for women.
There is also a fear of tech. We are afraid of what we do not understand so most women who don’t understand technology are inherently afraid of it.
I think because tech is still a mystery to most. There’s a lot of work to be done demystifying technology and it’s workings to women.
When do you see yourself retiring?
I don’t think I can “retire” or at least, not in the way most people do it. There’s still so much work to be done. Especially uplifting the women on this continent.
I see myself still working with women entrepreneurs. At the end of it all, I’ll probably end up as a Venture Capitalist, investing in women-owned businesses. I love betting on women.
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