Lily Katumba, a Ugandan entrepreneur building an impact-driven business giving hope to others — Lionesses of Africa

Startup Story

Lily Katumba is the founder of Zuri Styles, an accessories design and manufacturing business in Uganda creating jobs and restoring hope to vulnerable people. Lily’s mission is to stop Human Trafficking and empower those most vulnerable by creating sustainable employment, providing coaching and mentorship, and empowering girl children.

LoA spoke to the inspirational Lily Katumba to learn more about her motivation and her entrepreneurial journey to date.

Tell us about your personal entrepreneurial journey

In 2010, I was going about my office job in Uganda when a beautiful lady that was not known to me knocked at my door and asked if she could speak with me. I agreed to speak to her. She reached into her bag and pulled out a bundle of handmade jewellery. Looking at the jewellery, she said, “can you please help me sell these to your colleagues and friends?” I was in shock, wondering how someone who did not know me would trust me to sell her products and give her back the money. I told her, “You don’t know me, and I do not know you. How is this possible?” She responded, “mom, this shows you how desperate I am right now; I have kids to feed, clothe and provide for. I am looking for a way out”. Having been born and raised in Uganda, I knew exactly what it meant to go without food and all the other basic life needs. I agreed!

A couple of years later, my family and I relocated to the USA. While in that country I found many pointers in the same direction of helping vulnerable groups. Different people would contact me, asking if I could help. I was hesitant and had lots of excuses. After so much thought and prayer, I decided to step into what I felt were big shoes; helping the vulnerable. In July 2016, Zuri Styles was “officially” birthed after I returned from Uganda with a large collection of beautiful handmade products.

Amazing things happen when we step out in faith. God made a way where there seemed to be no way. He brought people alongside me to advise and help us grow into the Zuri Styles we are today. God equipped us with new ideas and skills to take this mission forward. Through the desire to help the vulnerable and bring hope to the nations, God gave us the bag/purse idea, one of our most popular products. Zuri Styles works with underprivileged and economically disadvantaged women in Uganda. Most of our products are made from local natural and recycled materials, which are readily available to the women. We closely work with the women to empower them and provide them with the skills, training, and equipment required to produce high-quality products. When you buy our products, you make the momentous decision to provide food, medical care, and tuition, amongst many other needs to these women and their families. We hope that you find our mission meaningful and will continue supporting it by shopping with us.

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