African Hospitality Institute by Maggie Josiah


Background:  Maggie was a self-employed business woman, having owned her own restaurant and cleaning service, and eventually, became an estate manager.  She felt her life didn’t have enough purpose; she wanted to get out of the for-profit business.  Through Finishers Project she went to Uganda to “cook and clean” – to use her business skills; not to evangelize or minister.

Getting Started:   For the first four years, she worked as an estate manager in America and went to Uganda for one month each year to build relations.  It is necessary to become a part of the community before anyone will listen to you.  She has now lived in Uganda for the past five years.

The Business:  Maggie has built a very nice Guest House which she has turned into a two-year vocational training program, African Hospitality Institute, in the remote bush of Uganda where there is no electricity or running water.  They have installed solar panels for electricity and piped in water – gravity flow.  She takes 17-25 year old young adults from the bush and trains them so they can be employed.  The two-year program serves to teach them a skill and to work on deep heart change.  In spite of unemployment that is out of control, graduates of AHI almost all get jobs within a month of graduation.

BAM Opportunities/Preparation: Business people are encouraged to come and partner with AHI short-term – first to explore and see the different opportunities; then to commit to come back every year or two to build relationships and follow-up.   When you build relationship, that’s when things begin to happen.  It takes a long-term commitment because you have to educate the nationals so much.  Corruption is considered a normal way of life; you have to teach the biblical foundation of running an ethical business.

Expertise-Not Money:  Short-termers cannot bring money; people in developing countries look to the Westerner as a savior who “gives” them money/gifts.  Don’t give them anything other than yourself.  Africans say, “Don’t bring over any more evangelists and church planters; we know how to do that, but we don’t know how to do business. Teach us to do business so we can become part of the global community”.

Examples:  A VP with Charles Schwab has been coming over for a number of years on short-term trips.  She began teaching nationals how to start a business; the most recent class had 150 attendees.  Now everyone wants to attend because they see people start a small business with as little as $10 and build upon it.  Now those who attended her classes are taking it to the herdsmen who want to know how they can do business; the payoff is that these people will have one-on-one time with businessmen who visit.

This lady also determined that a local grain mill was needed.  She has hired two AHI graduates to run it; gave them a loan – not a donation – they are now in the process of building a community.  Out of that, the farmers have gotten together realizing that they are now going to have a local grain mill to use and asked if they could start a co-op.  Maggie encouraged them to set up their co-op and figure out how they would run it. 

Micro-Finance Opportunities:  Many small businesses have popped up with just $10.  Maggie is the only micro-finance lender at this time; she has $2,000-$3,000 money in float at any given time.  At first, the Africans were very annoyed at the thought of having to pay back the loan; they wanted donations.  She had to explain that a business loan was different.  To get a loan, they must come up with a business plan and a mission statement for their business.  The need now is for micro-finance – someone to come in and help the people that have proven to be responsible business people. 

Maggie mentioned two organizations – Expressive Business Strategy (EBS) and a Christian Fellowship for business people called  A lot of these people come to Uganda to teach business.


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