GEO-MIKs journey is a typical story of any small startup in Africa. The beginning and initial operations and into the development stages was an uphill task for several reasons including access to capital and credit. At a very early stage of our foundation, there was need to defeat a common stereotype; that one can never start and succeed with his/her original idea or any business venture unless he/she is from a privileged family or supported by government or powerful connection somewhere. Later, realized it is never essentially so. There was need to start anyhow. For example, the founder; Moses Banduga was compelled for the initial start to operate from his home for the first seven months of registration/incorporation. He only leased the first operational office in October 2008 at Suite C, Kasturba Suites, Coleville Street, Kampala.
However, the startup closed within first three months. He was pushed out of the industry temporarily and went back to the labor market. He got a job at Geo-Information Communication in January 2009, and at the same time he established a side commercial enterprise for stationery service and a cafe as a complementary and fundraising drive to capitalize the start-up. Unfortunately, it also closed within the first seven months of operation.
In August 2009, he secured a one-year offer at UNDP/UN Habitat and, six months later in January 2010, re-established the firm at the garage belonging to the Church of Uganda. Right there, everything started. Inspired by the vision, he immediately began to document, incubate and innovate the business concepts, crafting content, originating templates and scoping services and product portfolios and forming the initial team.
After competitively securing the first, second and third government tenders in 2010, 2011 and 2012, things started slowly to look up. With the team, he moved operations to a more spacious office in 2013 and later in 2015 because there was a growing need to upscale and restructure our operational capacity.
Six years later, propelled by the quest to reinforce and consolidate effectively GEO-MIK’s growth and reposition our business for the regional and international agenda, it became necessary to relocate our office to the city of Entebbe, so we can be close to the Entebbe International Airport. It also demanded upscale and holistic value addition to the business, evolving GEO-MIK from a firm to a limited liability company and realigning our product and service portfolios to the emerging domestic and foreign markets.
Over a decade now, GEO-MIK has seen sustained domestic growth and expanding territorial footprint from project work to; Uganda, Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Kenya, Seychelles, Mauritius, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Côte d’Ivoire. We are happy to see the progress made since 2008 amidst the difficulties.
Along the journey, he realized that to shape and sustain the real world of entrepreneurship, at a personal level, it was essential to make bold tradeoffs and confront competitive career choices - continue his studies and give all of his time to the pursuit of his dream. Ultimately, he relinquished the latter and called off early opportunities for postgraduate study multiple times.
However, when he reflects on his journey today, he is excited and motivated to see the growth of GEO-MIK’s work at the forefront of our industry and he doesn’t regret the tradeoffs and risks he made over the years.