Law graduate connects entrepreneurs to investors

Tuesday August 2 2016

Pascal Ojijo and  Ivan Mugeere display an app

Pascal Ojijo and Ivan Mugeere display an app that the latter developed. Above: Mugere explains how the pocketi app works. PHOTO BY ERIC KYAMA 

By Eric Kyama

During the Uganda Investment Authority week in June, many entrepreneurs showcased their products, with some displaying ingenuity with locally manufactured drinks, crafts and shoes. One self-made entrepreneur caught the eye of many revelers. Ojijo Pascal Al Amin, aged 28, stood out of the many entrepreneurs at the exhibition because of his unique business venture.

Born in Homabei, western Kenya, Ojijo always dreamt of doing something that would help him get recognised and be helpful to society.
“I always dreamt of making it big in life,” says Mr Ojijo. He also added that business can be one way to solve community problems. This, he said, can be through connecting entrepreneurs to mentors and investors. Mr Ojijo, is the founder of GoBigHub, a finance and mentorship organisation that mentors and connects local entrepreneurs to investors.

Ojijo was born and raised in a family which settled in a town called Homabei in western Kenya. The last born amongst 21 siblings says he was raised in a poor family although his parents provided the basics he needed. He, however, admits that much as his parents had the capability to educate all of them, he is the only one amongst his siblings that has made it to higher education.
“Most of my siblings took a different path regarding education; they dropped out of school,” he said.

Ojijo’s father was a teacher by profession. Ojijo cites his father’s strictness as one of the reasons his siblings were rebellious towards his father. He adds that his mother was his greatest inspiration while growing up.

“My mother went on to do odd jobs like brewing local alcohol which was illegal,” said Ojijo. He further adds that he remembers his mother being arrested on several occasions because of her occupation, one he that sometimes put food on the table.

Early life
Ojijo tried to venture in various small businesses as a child, for instance selling sugar cane in school in order to supplement his needs. Ojijo adds that in his early life, he attended over three schools all of them in Kenya for his education. This he says played out to his advantage because of the people he met.

“Meeting these people helped me build the network I have today,” said Ojijo. He however admits that being in many schools was as a result of his stubborn character. Ojijo decided to do a degree of law at the University of Nairobi. He said he continued with a Masters in Law at Makerere University when he came to Uganda.

Starting out GobigHub
“In March 2015 as I lay on my bed in the early morning, I kept on asking myself: what can I do for myself that at the same time is helpful to my fellow youth who are disgruntled?’’ said Ojijo Ojijo. Ojijo first ventured into teaching Swahili. According to him, Swahili could help the unemployed by increasing their network. He added that he later thought of doing something that would help young entrepreneurs by connecting them to mentors and investors.

Ojijo says it took him about Shs13 to15 million to start up GoBigHub.
GoBigHub believes that the two greatest challenges challenges facing Africa are poverty and unemployment.

People uplifted by GoBigHub
GoBigHub has set an entrepreneurial base for young entrepreneurs such as Ivan Mugeere, an aggressive entrepreneur owning ‘‘poketi’’ a mobile money transfer app. The poketi app enables one to transfer funds across all networks in Uganda.

Mugeere calls Ojijo a friend and mentor.
“When I first met Ojijo, I saw an innovative and encouraging character in him,” said Mugeere. He adds that Ojijo opened up his mind to being more innovative and creative.

“Coming up with the poketi app is one thing that proved to Ojijo that I was willing to change for the good,” added Mugeere. Mugeere also added that through Ojijo’s GoBigHub, he has been able to meet really influential and inspirational people something that has motivated him more.

Getting involved
He says the organisation is open to enterprising youth. ‘‘Whether you have as little as Shs50,000 to invest in a local business or you are a business seeking investment, a mentor, all you have to do is register with us for free,” says Ojijo.