How Rowena Lubowa & Dushiime Kaguliro are connecting Ugandan women through ‘pearls for her’

You can have it all; just not on the same day, at the same time - Pearls for her Click To Tweet

With just a few minutes for the event to begin, I barely managed to get a seat at the packed venue for the “Pearls for her” event. The garden was abuzz with the vibrant voices of Uganda’s future- young, hungry and fierce female entrepreneurs.

Some still at the idea phase of their dream businesses, looking to network and learn some valuable nuggets of wisdom from their peers. Others, already seasoned entrepreneurs hoping to learn something new.


The group of panelists took their seats on the stage, all of them highly respected young female entrepreneurs ready to share their stories- the good, the bad and the ugly with an eagerly waiting crowd.

This scene has been repeated many times at different events organized by Pearls for her- an organization that supports, educates and encourages female entrepreneurs in Uganda through their seminars, panel discussions, and networking events.  

Rowena Lubowa and Dushiime Kaguliro – the founders of ‘Pearls for her’– share their fascinating story and insights on how they came to build such an amazing brand.

 On how their entrepreneurial journey began…

We felt like there was a gap in the market for women empowerment platforms and there was a need for more events that focused on developing women.

We wanted to create networking spaces so we could help and learn from each other.

The most valuable business lesson learned so far…

The importance of planning ahead, a lot of our business is event-based and this has taught us that you can never foresee all the things that can go wrong.

Starting small and letting the business grow– you learn as you grow which has the added advantage of allowing you to manage all the work as the business grows.

Their motivation to support female entrepreneurs…

‘Pearls for her’ supports all women, not just entrepreneurs.  We live in a world where women are constantly pitted against each other. Where women feel like there aren’t enough safe spaces for them.

‘Pearls for her’ wants to change all that and ensure women can learn, grow and support each other. Its a space where our voices can be heard and valued.

The biggest challenge faced while growing the brand…

Balance. Learning to balance our careers, private businesses and ‘Pearls for her. We’ve also learned to balance what we want for the brand and what the market wants.

One advice for female entrepreneurs in Africa and abroad…


You can have it all, just not on the same day, at the same time.

That, however, should not stop you from being everything and doing everything you want to do.



If you could be mentored by any woman in the world, who would it be and why?

Ava DuVernay– She decided to be a director in her 30’s and is redefining storytelling in Hollywood.

She is unapologetically herself and has chosen to tell black stories at a higher standard. There is so much to learn from her and her story.

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I’ve Got Bills To Pay & You’re Talking About Brand Building?

Not every single marketing activity will translate to direct sales! Can someone please scream this from the rooftops?

If you’ve worked in a marketing capacity, you know this. And you also know a lot of clients straight up refuse to accept it. It’s easy to want to connect all marketing activity directly to ROI.

Some of these activities, such as social media, may be viewed as extras and add-ons because they do not translate to direct revenue, but do they help in solidifying the overall brand picture?

You bet!

It’s imperative to place brand building and sales activities in separate categories. Although they might occasionally overlap, they must be treated as different actions, with different strategies that generate different results.

if consumers feel your brand is wack, they won’t be willing to pay much for it - Oluwaseyi Bank-Oni Click To Tweet

It is easy to overlook the importance of building a solid brand before diving straight into selling. Especially after investing funds into a business. Granted, in the beginning stages of running your business, you might command profits left, right & center.

But what keeps your clients coming back? What prevents them from switching to a competitor selling the exact same product or services for slightly less?

Your brand – that’s what!


Big brands invest millions of dollars in building and maintaining a certain brand image with no direct translation to sales. This is not just for fun or because they feel like splurging. It’s because they understand the value and the equity that comes with a solid brand name.

Even the good book says, “A good name is more desirable than great riches. To be esteemed is better than silver or gold”.

Hallelujah, somebody?

Take Coca-Cola, for example, this brand participates in different types of brand building activities designed to trigger emotions, nostalgia, and certain positive feelings associated with the brand.

Amidst these activities, Coca-Cola products are not explicitly sold. Why? The brand understands the value of building brand equity with their current and potential consumers. What is this brand equity, you ask?

It is simply the value placed on a particular brand, based on the experience, feeling, or perception a consumer attaches to it. Simply put, if consumers feel your brand is wack, they won’t be willing to pay much for it.

If they view your brand as the best thing since sliced bread, they will be willing to pay more for it compared to similar brands. Thus it has a higher equity and commands a price premium in the market.

The problem with focusing on sales before boosting brand awareness and equity is that you may attract a slew of one-time clients. They buy and use your product,  but have no connection to keep them coming back, so they keep it moving!

A competitor product pops up the next time and they switch. Sounds familiar? Yeah, we’re all guilty of doing this. We’re also guilty of being extremely loyal to certain brands based on the value we have placed on them.

For some mothers, only a certain brand of diapers will do for their babies, for others, such as myself, we buy fuel from only a certain brand of petrol stations. That’s the beauty of building a strong and trusted brand.

There are many angles to this “brand equity” business, including consumer-based brand equity as discussed previously, employee-based brand equity, and more. As your business grows, employee-based brand equity cannot be neglected.

In growing brand loyalty and equity, employees can be your most cost-effective brand evangelists. The people who will love and promote your brand from the mountaintops – for free.

Let’s use Heineken as an example, I have a couple of friends who work for the brand, and as we say in Nigeria, they “carry it on their head”. Sometimes I think to myself, “Na your papa own this place?”-(Does your father own Heineken?) but guess what? The last time I was in Amsterdam, where the HQ is located — What was I most excited to see & do? To tour the Heineken brewery!

The passion their employees have for the brand and the sincere love and joy that emanates when they speak about it, in turn, gave me the “ginger” and excitement to go see things for myself. When your employees truly believe in your brand and become loyalists (not just because you pay them a salary), something truly magical happens.

They become one of your greatest and cheapest marketing assets. The word begins to spread organically and the positive brand equity transcends from employees to consumers.

When your employees truly believe in your brand and become loyalists (not just because you pay them a salary), something truly magical happens - Oluwaseyi Bank-Oni Click To Tweet

It’s understandable, you put money in, you want money out, and quick! Unfortunately return on investment is not always immediate or that simple.  

Recognizing the need for brand building activities which may not necessarily translate to sales in the short-term is the first step. Understanding the need to cultivate long-term meaningful relationships with your target is the next.

While creating a distinction between brand building and selling activities, always remember to look at the big picture and think long-term.

As Gary Vaynerchuk once said, “Brand is not transactional. Brand is forever”.

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A Day at #SheHiveJoburg: True SheHive fashion is epic

10:00: As a Joburger for the past few years, it was my first time experiencing Maboneng, where SheHive Joburg is taking place. Driving into Maboneng, which is known for it’s eccentric culture and vibe, you forget that you are in Joburg.

SheHive Joburg was held at the OPEN Collaborative City Workspaces on the 4th floor. I walked into a space with music playing in the background, and I was filled with excitement.

10:45: More people started arriving, registering and received their #MotherlandMogul name tags. You could sense the excitement, not only for the event but the great venue SheHiveJoburg was being held.

11:28: We had a full house, and it was time to start! Ellen, the MC, welcomed all the ladies. We found out that Joburg was the final stop of the SheHive tours. I must say, bringing women together around the world with such an event is an awesome initiative and learning experience.

To break the ice in the room, Ellen asked that the ladies turn to the person next to them and introduce themselves. This intro also had to include a selfie! Who doesn’t love selfies?!

After taking the selfies, we needed to post them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #SheHiveJoburg. The ladies with the best caption on what they want to learn on the day would win a prize at the end of the day. Of course this was well-received. We love prizes!

11:35: The SheHive signature rap battle begins. The All Access ladies were the judges for this segment. The #MotherlandMoguls got into teams of 6 to prepare their rap.

Team names included Captured Africa, African Butter and African Dream. The best four names went to the final round to battle it out.

After watching the four teams battled for the rap title, I must say that Africa Has Got Talent! The judges finally announced the winners and Captured Africa took the title!img_0350

12:01: SLA Co-founder, Afua spoke about building winning partnerships. The ladies in the audience split into groups of 5-7 for the business exercise assigned by Afua. The exercise required that the different groups come up with a business name, a natural bath and body product and a partnership that would best align with their product.

Preparing for the pitch to their potential partners filled the room with excitement. I discovered that Motherland Moguls are creative, and having this experience will help them in the future when they pitch to their soon-to-be partners.

13:03: Networking is valuable but networking right is more valuable. Ellen encouraged the ladies to speak to 3 people they do not know during lunch, and of course, take more selfies and post on social media.

13:06: Lunch time. This was the perfect time to take more selfies, take pictures using the SLA props to and most importantly to eat and mingle.

14:00: Once lunch was over, Victoria, the Marketing and Social Media coordinator from Kisua announced that everyone is legible to a 15% discount on their first purchase at Kisua!! This was one of the many highlights of the event, the #MotherlandMoguls loved this.

Then, the media panel began with Susan Younis, Janine Jellars, and Leslie Kasumba. The panel was a discussion on their career journeys to date and the lessons learned in the media industry. Who better to learn from than from these media moguls!?

The media panel gave us pointers on how to know which offer to take. One of the panelists, Janine, pointed out that not every opportunity presented to you will be an opportunity you should take. It’s important to know what is good for you and understand what your path and your purpose is.

15:20: The next speaker was Irene Charnley, who is the CEO of the Smile Group. Her presentation was centered around the importance of you. She gave us pointers on how Motherland Moguls can be guided by their core values. Irene also asked a few members of the audience to tell us what their core values are.

This was important because what your values are should speak to both your personal and professional life. A lesson we took from the presentation is to always be present in everything that you do.

16:17: After that inspiring session, we needed a comfort break where more networking happened and Motherland Moguls bought branded t-shirts. We even had some ladies change into the t-shirts as soon as they bought them.

16:35: The last speaker of the day was Dorothy Amuah from Luxury Focus. Dorothy spoke of her journey after finishing her MBA,  and seeing that there is an opportunity for luxury to expand in Africa. She came back to Africa to see where she could play her part in growing the luxury industry.

We learned about the luxury business and for many of us, it was an eye-opener. We definitely learn something new everyday!

img_007217:15: Motherland Moguls got an opportunity to share their stories about themselves, their businesses and initiatives and everybody loved this. Having platforms such as SheHive that give women opportunities to talk about the great work they do are vital.

To end off the day, the rap battle winners and social media winners claimed their prizes and it was time for cocktails and more networking!