A moment with Akampa, digitalist reshaping Uganda’s retail industry

Ivan Akampa, a young entrepreneur and proprietor owning and running Sell Connect Uganda, an e-commerce platform disrupting traditional business in Uganda and changing the trends. PHOTO/Courtesy.
Ivan Akampa, a young proprietor owning and running Sell Connect Uganda, an e-commerce platform disrupting traditional business in Uganda and changing the trends. PHOTO/Courtesy.
  • He takes on an innovative stride, embraces the digital days, and disrupts the traditional retail models.
  • Akampa’s e-commerce business model has completely transformed the retail industry.
  • He emphasizes that the youths need to take advantage of the resources available.

Embrace the fear of starting and do not let procrastination hinder your dreams

Ivan Akampa.

The digital revolution has transformed the way businesses operate, from communication to sales and marketing. 

In this age, the pace of technological change has been rapid, and companies that have failed to adapt have invariably been left behind.

Those that have succeeded have been able to leverage technology to their benefit, improving operations, driving efficiency and productivity and reaching new audiences.

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) being the backbone of many emerging economies in Sub-Saharan Africa, they are not only critical to job creation and economic growth but also contribute significantly to poverty reduction and income distribution and inclusion.

Ivan Akampa has been one of those in a new phase of digital-age business leaders taking their companies to new heights through the power of technology. 

He takes on an innovative stride, embraces the digital days, and disrupts the traditional retail models through a platform Sell Connect Uganda.

Education

A second born of five children, Akampa was raised by an indigenous entrepreneur from Rukungiri district in South Western Uganda. 

He attended early schooling at Rukungiri, Dawanguvu Primary School, and then St. Charles Lwanga Seminary for his O-Level education.

An e-poster with details of the columnist and the guest. E-POSTER/Daniel Tusiimukye, Scholar Media Africa.
An e-poster with details of the columnist and the guest. E-POSTER/Daniel Tusiimukye, Scholar Media Africa.

From St. Mary’s College Rushoroza, he was admitted to Makerere University Business School, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Commerce. 

In addition, due to his interest in digital commerce, he went ahead to pursue a certificate in Digital Marketing from Google Digital Garage and CMI Level 5.

About his work

While doing his bachelor’s course, he embraced all opportunities he could come across on campus by doing different gigs while studying.

He was Jumia JForce Agent, championed as an ambassador of Stan Chat digital accounts, and had a business dealing in fashion called Akivanz Fashions.

After completing his B.Com degree in 2021, he worked with Challenges Worldwide, Standard Chartered Bank Future Makers Program, Airtel Uganda and Smartfoods Uganda.

He consolidated the knowledge and experience gained therein to start his own company, Sell Connect Uganda.

As the proprietor of Sell Connect Ug, Akampa’s platform connects sellers with potential buyers using technology. 

He executes his duties differently by constantly innovating and finding new ways to improve the platform’s efficiency and effectiveness. 

Akampa delivers a laptop to a client at Sell Connect Uganda. PHOTO/Courtesy.

He also follows customers’ consumption patterns and trends to identify high-selling items.

As a young digital-age entrepreneur, Akampa has adopted a unique business model that has disrupted traditional retail models, and his success has drawn the attention of tech enthusiasts.

What makes him tick

According to Akampa, what puts a glimmer in his heart is a combination of hard work and the blessings that come from above. 

“I am a firm believer in setting goals and working towards them with discipline, perseverance, and a positive attitude.

I find great satisfaction in achieving my goals and making progress towards my aspirations, whether they are personal or professional,” he explained to Scholar Media Africa in an interview.

Additionally, he is motivated by the desire to make a positive impact in his community.

What sets Akampa apart from other entrepreneurs is his innovative use of technology to sell his products online. 

By leveraging social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, LinkedIn and also his site (www.sellconnectug.com), Akampa has managed to create a strong online presence for his business.

This has enabled him to reach a wider audience and sell his products to customers all around the country.

In 2021, he participated in the Youth to Work program with Challenges Worldwide in partnership with Standard Chartered Bank Future Makers program, and worked with Airtel Uganda in 2022.

Akampa’s e-commerce business model has completely transformed the retail industry and has proven to be a game-changer. 

Akampa was part of the Youth To Work Programme by Future Makers and Standard Chartered Bank in partnership with Challenges Worldwide. It aimed to support youth empowerment through providing training and business support. PHOTO/Courtesy.

By cutting out the middleman and working directly with suppliers, he has been able to reduce overhead costs and offer his products at more competitive prices than traditional retailers. 

As a result, more and more customers are turning to his online store for affordable and high-quality products.

Furthermore, Akampa’s commitment to delivering top-notch customer services has helped him build a loyal customer base. 

He has implemented advanced communication channels such as on-site messaging features that make it easy for customers to interact with his business and receive timely help on their purchases.

Lemonade from Covid-19

For him, the Covid-19 lockdown had just but a minimal impact on his business.

“We faced challenges with the supply chain as some of our suppliers were unable to access stock. To stay afloat, we adapted by finding new suppliers and working to improve our online presence,” Akampa recollects.

Many SMEs in Sub-Saharan Africa continue to thrive, showing resilience and adaptability in the face of significant obstacles despite facing a lot of challenges. 

Akampa joins other panelists on the Uganda Revenue Authority TV recently to expound on record keeping by SMEs. PHOTO/Courtesy.
Akampa (second left) joins other panelists on the Uganda Revenue Authority TV to expound how tax incentives are stimulating growth for SMEs. PHOTO/Courtesy.

On Akampa’s end, some of the challenges he faces include controlling the supply chain, online theft, cyber-attacks, and limited capital. 

“To overcome these challenges, I constantly innovate and find new ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of my platform,” the young innovator says.

Prospects of SMEs

SMEs like Akampa’s will continue to play a critical role in Sub-Saharan Africa’s economic growth and transformation. 

Governments and other stakeholders need to focus on addressing the challenges faced by SMEs, providing a conducive environment that allows these businesses to thrive and realize their full potential.

Such measures could include the creation of dedicated funds for SMEs, improving access to finance, infrastructural development, providing training and advisory services as well as tax exemptions for small businesses.

In addition to his work at Sell Connect Ug, he mentors teams of people on digital marketing.

He has also partnered with an NGO called AVIAS (African Visual Artists) to raise awareness about climate change and its impact on the environment. 

Fascinated

If he was granted 20 minutes with anyone in the world, Akampa would choose Jeff Bezos. 

Hosted by Daniel Tusiimukye, this weekly column highlights young people transforming Africa. E-POSTER/Daniel Tusiimukye, Scholar Media Africa.
Hosted by Daniel Tusiimukye, this weekly column highlights young people transforming Africa. E-POSTER/Daniel Tusiimukye, Scholar Media Africa.

“I am fascinated by his visionary leadership and how he built Amazon into one of the largest and most successful companies in the world,” Akampa exclaims.

He says he would love to learn from his experiences and insights about innovation, leadership, and entrepreneurship, as well as how he navigated through challenges and setbacks. 

“Jeff Bezos is truly an inspiration to me, and meeting him even for a brief moment would be a dream come true,” he says.

On reincarnation, he would choose to come back as a programmer or computer scientist. 

“I find the field of technology to be fascinating and I believe that this profession has the potential to make a significant impact on the world,” he appreciates.

Advice to the youths

To the youth and aspiring entrepreneurs, Akampa says, “Embrace the fear of starting and do not let procrastination hinder your dreams. 

Universities offer numerous opportunities for students to start and grow their businesses while still pursuing their education. If you have a passion for a particular career or business, don’t wait until after graduation to start,” he advises.

Akampa presenting to Kampala Capital City Authority youth platform on embracing the digital age as a new take for SMEs to grow and sustenance in the evolving business environment. PHOTO/Courtesy.

He emphasizes that the youths need to take advantage of the resources available and learn from the experience, even with minimal resources.

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A decade into the future, Akampa sees Sell Connect Ug being a top e-commerce platform not only in Uganda but in the East African region, creating job opportunities for hundreds of employees and making a significant impact on the economy in Sub-Saharan Africa.

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Daniel Tusiimukye is a columnist with The Scholar Media Africa, is an award winning author, and a Ugandan based publisher. He is the founder at The Iconic Publications and currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering at Makerere University, Kampala. His contact: d.tusiimukye@scholarmedia.africa

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