Training is key in management

What you need to know:

  • Start-up: According to UNBS, 54 percent of products sold on the Ugandan market are either fake or substandard. It is on this ground that Stephen Obeli started, a shopping platform that helps consumers avoid the trap of counterfeit goods.

According to UNBS, 54 percent of products sold on the Ugandan market are either fake or substandard. It is on this ground that Stephen Obeli started, a shopping platform that helps consumers avoid the trap of counterfeit goods.

Tell us about yourself

I am a versatile entrepreneur and digital marketing and sales specialist with interests in retail and manufacturing. I am a co-founder and chief executive officer of

What exactly is about?

Together with a team of competent young people at, we set up a counterfeit-free shopping platform. This offers customers a safe space to do their shopping for appliances and electronics without the worry of buying fakes. Additionally, we engage ourselves in consumer education about dangers of counterfeits and how to spot them.

How can one easily differentiate between fake and genuine products?

Some fake products are easy to identify but others are not since the majority of fakes are made to look exactly like the genuine ones.

Some of the things to look out for that can help you tell if a product is genuine or not are; variations in the logo design, fonts or colours, variations in the brand names (spellings), product labelling, price of the product, warranty, barcode and “made in country” among others. Most renowned brands have factories in China but some do not have factories there. If you are sure the company does not have a factory in China yet the product is labelled “Made in China”, then it is likely fake.

What does your job at entail?

My job is to steer the company forward by giving the team leadership and direction. I also lead in seeking and securing strategies and partnerships that can help the company serve our customers better and grow stronger.

How does bridge the gap between the manufacturer and consumer?

We source products directly from the manufacturers and official distributors and sell directly to final consumers thus shielding the customers from fakes while at the same time guarding the manufacturers from undue competition with counterfeits of their brands.

Is the Ugandan market ripe for e-commerce?

I think the market is not exactly ripe for e-commerce but we are growing in the right direction. Many people are still a bit skeptical about making transactions online but at least they are willing to start their shopping online. The growth of various fintech solutions (digital payment services) is another God-send for the e-commerce business at large.

How would you describe your experience as a CEO?

It is a journey into the unknown for me. My experience as a CEO is empowering the team to believe, attempt and achieve beyond expectations, every day. Same cycle, every day.

What are the greatest accomplishments in your career?

Growing with to where it is today is a great achievement.

What are your personal goals and how do you align them with your job?

Everything that has happened to me has been preparing me for my childhood dream of transforming my little village into a city. I am a firm believer in people empowerment and social transformation and my current job is doing well in offering me training to do exactly that.

What has been your biggest challenge so far?

Some years ago I had a contract-based business but failed to keep it running after key clients had challenges with their own companies. It was very hard to get back up after losing four years of careful labour.

What would you say was a major turning point in your career?

Sometime in 2016 I put my business attempts on hold and got a job. I quit at the end of the month and I do not intend to get employed by someone else.

What would you consider your management skills?

Management is not one of those things I like, but whenever I have to do it I take the path of training, empowering and delegating. Those three have always worked well for me.

How have you contributed to the bottom-line growth in previous companies you have worked with?

I am a revenue-oriented person working with one of the largest tourist car rental companies in Uganda. A few years ago, we helped them get all their cars fully booked. That was the first sell-out in that company in their then 11-year history.

Take us through your career journey.

I started doing business as a child. I sold sugarcane at the age of eight, tomatoes at nine, and worked for my mother selling paraffin in the village trading centre at age 11. I started my own paraffin business later, taking in a classmate as my first business partner at the age of 12 (Primary 6) and closed it at the age of 13 under pressure to concentrate more in class.

In my first year studying real estate management and valuation, I started a graphics business which became a good success, only to lose it four years later. With more than 40 websites to my name, two years of user experience design exposure, and a comfortable digital marketing and sales expertise, I sought to fix a shared personal challenge; tough work schedules, need for genuine household furnishing and appliances yet online shopping platforms were filled with counterfeit products.

Alongside two friends, I started out in pursuit of a dream that would see us build a robust retail enterprise with better quality controls and delivery time. That is

How do you manage to keep a healthy relationship with your employees?

I am friends with them and we intentionally respect each other’s boundaries.

What are some of the challenges you face in your line of work?

There is limited skilled labour in the market to serve in e-commerce, the cost of financing is still high and digital banking solutions often break down. Additionally, thieves try to take advantage of the online space to steal from delivery people.