Ugandan distributor makes good on $4m Ascent injection

The African Queen fleet grew from 48 vehicles to 70 vehicles post-investment and in the meantime its distribution network has grown across Uganda.
In Summary

July 1—USAID Hub, the Nairobi-based organization geared to expanding American commercial interests in Eastern Africa, is […]

July 1—USAID Hub, the Nairobi-based organization geared to expanding American commercial interests in Eastern Africa, is touting African Queen, a Ugandan importer and distributor of hair care, skin care, stationery and plastics products, for turning around its business fortunes.

A couple of years ago, private equity firm, Ascent asked staff at the regional Hub to carry out due diligence on African Queen to judge the firm’s prospects with more refinancing and some reorganization.

With the support from the USAID Hub, Ascent and African Queen closed an investment deal of $4 million in February 2016. These Hubs across Africa, are spearheading a new model of private-sector led development. For every $1 of public money spent on trade programs in Africa, the Hubs leverage $9 in private investment.

African Queen managing director, Innocent Bagumira said last week, “The recommendations that came from the USAID Hub helped us transform our business; particularly in terms of refocusing on high margin brands, sales automation, reorganizing our workforce and inventory and channel management. Because of their work, we are positioning the company to win by leveraging better on our ICT and innovation.”

USAID Trade Hubs work on the ground to reduce the cost and risk of doing business in Africa, leveling the playing field and cutting through red-tape to make investment and trade freer and fairer. USAID is engaging with partners across sub-Saharan Africa to deepen regional economic integration, promote two-way trade with the United States under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and finally attract investment that drives commercial expansion within the region and to global markets.

According to the Nairobi Hub, African Queen now operates as a robust commercial enterprise with the oversight of a Board of Directors and a Managing Director who redefined African Queen’s operating and management procedures. African Queen’s improved management and governance also allows them to better engage with fast-moving consumer goods conglomerates who insist on professional distributors for their global and regional brands.

From 198 employees pre-investment in 2015, African Queen grew to 219 employees (38 pc women and 70 pc youth) post-investment in 2017. Similarly, its fleet grew from 48 vehicles to 70 vehicles post-investment. African Queen retired its auto rickshaw fleet and old trucks in favour of fuel-efficient vehicles that reduce its carbon footprint. Furthermore, the company expanded its consumer base in Uganda

The new management team drives a strong customer centric mentality which enables African Queen to offer improved service to wholesale clients as well as to new retail clients. The strategic shift resulted in African Queen becoming the market leader in distribution.

African Queen’s credit-line now allows its retail partners to grow alongside the company. Due to greater attention to detail and demand for best practices and high-quality goods, African Queen and its partners now have a reputation for being ‘best in class’ and are well positioned to expand their quality offerings to the underserved consumers in Central and Northern Africa.



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