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Women in biz
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Introduction

My name is Joseline Kateeba , Managing Director Crest Foam Limited. I first joined Crest Foam Limited in 2004 as a Business Analyst – a position I held for 1 year. Prior to joining Crest Foam, I worked for 4 years in South Africa as a Business Analyst at Bain & Company and Nedcor. I left Crest Foam in 2005 to pursue a Masters in Business Administration at Harvard Business School. After attaining my MBA, I worked at Bain & Company in Chicago (USA) for nearly two years as a Strategy Consultant.

I returned to Crest Foam in 2009 and worked for 1 year as a General Manager. I moved to South Africa in 2010 for personal reasons.

In 2011, I joined Cummins as Director of Strategy and Business Development for Africa. That role provided me opportunities to work across the African continent in countries such as Egypt, Nigeria, Senegal, Angola, and Kenya to determine market entry strategies. In addition, as part of the Executive Team for Cummins Africa, I was involved in developing and executing business strategies for existing businesses across the continent.

In October 2014, I returned to Uganda and started the transition process to take over the Managing Director position from my mother Mrs Petua Kateeba (MD Crest Foam, 1992-2014). I officially became MD of Crest Foam Limited on 1 Feb 2015.

Crest Foam is a family-owned business that was incorporated in 1984 and started operations in 1987. Crest Foam is a manufacturer and distributor of mattresses, cushions and pillows. As of March 2016, Crest Foam had 130 employees; sold its products in Uganda, Eastern DRC and South Sudan though 7 factory outlets and nearly 30 independent dealers.

What would you describe as your biggest achievement?

A few weeks into my tenure as MD, Crest Foam Ltd had a major fire incident that resulted in the loss of 6 of our employees and a loss of assets worth Ugx6billion. I worked closely with my leadership team to start the process of rebuilding our operations. We cooperated with the authorities to investigate the incident, determine required corrective measures and obtained permission to resume operations.

We were able to reach a settlement with the families of the deceased employees. We resumed operations 6 weeks after the fire incident. In addition, we retained all our employees and paid their full salaries on time. We are determined to rebuild our company into a stronger company and are very optimistic about the future.

How is your product/service unique from others in the same industry?

We continue to strive to provide value for money. We offer different product qualities to meet customer needs. We believe that our premium products (high density mattresses) are the best in the market because of their durability. We also offer products for our highly price sensitive customers

What would you say are the major challenges experienced by your business and how have you managed to overcome them?

Growing competition- every couple of years, there are new entrants in the market. We strive to be consistent with regards to product quality. In addition, we offer a broad range of products to meet different customer needs.

Where do you see your business in the next 3-5 years?

We are planning on both product and geographical expansion.

We intend to improve the products that we currently produce as well as introduce new products so as to better meet customer needs that are constantly changing. In addition, we would like to have stronger market penetration in Uganda and neighboring countries such as DRC, South Sudan, Rwanda and Burundi.

Apart from providing the product/service offered by your business, how has your business contributed to your community?

  • In 2015, we sponsored KCCA Education Stakeholders Forum
  • In 2014 we donated mattresses to Seeta Junior School (Mukono)
  • In 2013 and 2014 we sponsored the Young Entrepreneurs Programme for Rotaract Club of Kampala Central

What have you done to develop/empower other women?

We employ around 28% women in the company. I am passionate about mentoring and spend a significant amount of time coaching others.

Advice to women

  • You have to be very clear on what you are trying to achieve - specify your goals and then determine a plan on how to achieve them.
  • Secondly, you really have to be resilient. Failure is part of the journey and along the way you are going to meet quite a few stumbling blocks – the key is to learn from every experience.
  • Make sure you surround yourself with the right people. You need support - there is no way you can get things done on your own. Recognize your weaknesses and strengths and ensure that your network can fill the gaps
  • Hard work pays - there is no free lunch. You have to put in the effort

How has MTN Uganda contributed to your achievement?

MTN provides a reliable service that we use on a regular basis to communicate with all our key stakeholders. Our customers across Uganda place all their orders via their mobile phones. The reliability of MTN’s service enables us to keep in touch with our sales force in the field. We use data on our mobile phones to access our emails which enables a fast response

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