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Tina Byaruhanga and HotKyana.com – pioneering Ugandan e-commerce.

I was in Kampala, Uganda just over a week ago on a work related trip. The trip lasted close to a week so I had quite a bit of time on my  to get a feel of how things are looking there in terms of technology. The last time I was in Uganda was approximately one year ago and at the time I did not really get to move around much since I was attending a conference. However, one thing is for sure, all the on-going construction and infrastructural investments in Kampala show that the country is on the move.

Downtown Kampala where Cybe Cafe Internet access is really cheap.

In terms of technology, what is very apparent in Uganda’s telecommunications sector where there are 5 mobile network operators comprised of Warid, MTN, Orange, UTL and Airtel is that the fight for the data market is in full swing. Everyone of these telcos is offering all sorts of consumer and business data propositions as evidenced by the large number of billboards all around the city promoting dongles, bundles, etc. In addition, there is also at least one CDMA player also offering data services there.

I also had a chance to venture into down town Kampala to get a feel of what was happening in the cyber cafes for the masses. Indeed, just like in Kenya, I found many cyber cafes offering incredibly inexpensive Internet access. One thing is for sure, Uganda is riding the broadband wave and its possible that they too will become a major centre for technology innovation in the East African region, in addition to Kenya. I would say that for entrepreneurs and investors now is the time to get a foothold in Uganda lest you miss the train when it leaves the station – there is money to be made.

Tina Byaruhanga, The Entrepreneur behind HotKyana.com

In-line with this post, I had a chance to meet Tina Byaruhanga who is the Entrepreneur behind a start-up e-commerce business in Uganda called “Hotkyana”. Tina started HotKyana about 8 months ago to offer Ugandan ladies an alternative shopping destination for high-end clothing and accessories.

Tina says that HotKyana is more than an online store – its a high-end consumer lifestyle that she is trying to promote in the marketplace. By the way, “kyana” means “chic” in Luganda which is the widest spoken ethnic language in Uganda – therefore, HotKyana means, quite literally, “Hot Chic”.

HotKyana operates by taking online orders via its web site. It does not yet offer credit card processing online so most of the payments they receive to-date are via cash, mobile money and direct cash deposits to their bank account. According to Tina, the payments space has been a major challenge but mobile money is proving to be a major boon for them. What is interesting to note is that HotKyana also gets orders from as far Rwanda showing that their reach is significant.

Driving into Kampala from the Airport.

HotKyana has grown largely through referrals from happy and satisfied customers as they hardly do any direct marketing. However, social media and especially Facebook has been a big part of their marketing strategy and they have a built a community there that supports HotKyana.

As of this writing Tina says that they get anywhere from 10 to 30 orders per week which has grown significantly over time. Tina is hoping to expand their business and may even consider getting a foothold in larger regional markets such as Kenya. All in all, I was really impressed with Tina and what she is doing with HotKyana in Uganda.

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6 Comments

  1. hotkyana customer
    May 2, 2011 at 6:52 am — Reply

    hi, i bought a gift for my gal from this hotkyana.com and she loved it. i made a mistake of telling her where i’d gotten it from and now she’s hooked and am gonna be one broke bratha in the near future…but yea, tina is doing something amazing and unique and kudos to her.

  2. Muffin
    May 2, 2011 at 7:14 am — Reply

    I have also had the pleasure of meeting this very enterprising and pleasant lady and I think she is doing a very commendable job.
    Kudos Tina!

  3. Pookie
    May 3, 2011 at 3:07 pm — Reply

    I was there when this all started!The constant phone calls with orders and the deliveries,way before the webpage was set up.I must say I am so proud of this enterprising lady!Kudos!

  4. Stephie K
    May 5, 2011 at 5:52 am — Reply

    The word ‘Hot’ doesnt even begin to describe the HotKyana site. I dream of all the goodies Tina sells, and in the dream I end up rolling on the floor with all these nice things thanks to Tina. Great Job Girl, you going no where but up, up, and away!

  5. Masente
    April 5, 2012 at 4:43 am — Reply

    The sky can not be the limit of this one.
    Cnt wait to see it be the amazon for Africas’ Hot Kyanas.
    Thumbs up and keep moving.

  6. April 13, 2012 at 11:28 am — Reply

    my delivery company can help deliver itemz to yo clients

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