The making of a Ugandan software company

Data Care Uganda employees on duty. PHOTO BY JOAN SALMON

What you need to know:

  • Data Care which started in July 2006 is an Information services company focused on software while working with other companies to do what is out of their niche. 

From Oracle to Microsoft, QuickBooks and other financial systems, Uganda has imported software, among other things. While these seem to solve problems, efficient usage requires updating the software whose access is unlocked after making a payment in dollars.

However, not everyone can afford that, let alone the cost of purchasing genuine software packages. No wonder, there are several pirated software while some people and organisations continue operating with globally obsolete programmes.

The solution to such is home-grown software companies because they produce software that is tailored to local needs. 

Data Care Uganda which started in July 2006 is one of them. It is an Information services company focused on software while working with other companies to do what is out of their niche. 

“We always produce our solutions in a way that they are not just for the Ugandan market because the need cuts across borders. That means ensuring quality and excellence are never wanting. Therefore, we maintain a quality management system under ISO 9001 to make sure every product we deliver is up to standard and we are audited every year in November to ensure we are still on track,” says Patrick Kagenda, the founder of Data Care. This was later buffered by information security management systems, a standard they keenly maintain. 

However, serving those away from home was never Data Care’s sole goal thus ensuring that they were also at par with the local regulating authorities such as National Information Technology Authority - Uganda (NITA-U), Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA). 

However, product standards can never be maintained by people that do not value certifications. That is why Kagenda became intentional about hiring certified workforce. 

“However, if they are not certified but talented, we walk with them with a promise to pay their certification fees once they get certified. We do the same for fresh graduates coupled with mentoring them. That way, we meet the local and international clients’ demand,” he says.

Mr Patrick Kagenda, the founder of Data Care Uganda. PHOTO BY JOAN SALMON

Certification fees
Many people shy away from certification owing to the big price tag and Kagenda does not refute that. 

“Our first fee was Shs56m but we worked with Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) who at that time had a project with the World Bank to improve services of local IT companies. All they required was a matching figure but the catch was that one fully pays up for the certification and they would refund the 50 percent. I believe it was their way of gauging commitment. Ultimately, that helped us start the certification process,” Kagenda says.

Thereafter, they got another project; Netherlands Trust Fund 3 focused on improving Information Technology (IT) services and coffee which were potential for growing Uganda’s exports. About 40 companies were selected and mentored on branding, pitching, and marketing. 

“We picked these lessons, using them to improve our services. Amazingly, what we thought were ingenious clients had global representation and recommended us. All we had to do was maintain our level of service, integrity, and quality to ensure we move to the export markets,” Kagenda says.

Currently, Data Care is exporting its software in 10 countries, which he credits to the Netherlands Trust Fund 4 where they were helped to develop their export marketing plan.

Kagenda says the opportunities are within reach. “From print media, television, online, it is all there,” he shares. 

Data Care Uganda has built several systems and just like any other service provider gets such contracts from wherever adverts are such as requests of proposals in newspapers.

Their biggest system is ProMISE, which has evolved over the years and makes the biggest export, sold in companies in Sudan, Yemen, Ethiopia, and Iraq. 

They have worked on the ProMISE 3.0 system  which has a Human Resource Management System, a monitoring and evaluation system, finance module, inventory management, and customer relationship. It captures what happens in organisation.