Every last Saturday of the month, MoTIV bursts into life as creatives and artisans in the community put forward products that they have been working on for the enthusiastic and curious buyers who throng the maker space. Known as Omwoleso, which is loosely translated from Luganda to mean, “The exhibition” the event is slowly climbing to the list of must-attend events on Kampala’s social calendar.
At the event, in every corner as far as the eye can see, is a display of various beautifully and distinctively made products. Most of the industries are well-represented at this monthly market place. There is textile, earthenware in the form of beautiful ceramics, beauty products extracted from milk and shea nut trees. Somewhere in a corner is a jeweler and on one end, a writer is selling her poetry. All this is happening amidst an upbeat atmosphere of live music performances and aromas of roasted meat and gourmet hotdogs wafting through the air.
“Whenever I hear that there is Omwoleso, I just drop everything and attend because I know that I will be taking a week’s sales in one day,” Gloria Asekenye speaks gleefully about the monthly exhibition at MoTIV. Two years ago, Asekenye started her business, Bonnet Culture. She makes hair coverings and pillows made out of kitenge and satin fabric that are sold online. “Before Omwoleso, I had never had a physical location where customers could interact with my products,” Asekenye says. She had been attending events at MoTIV for a while when she saw the invitation to the exhibition.
After attending the past three editions of Omwoleso, Asekenye is already registering changes in her business. Beyond the growing sales, Asekenye now has a community of entrepreneurs that shares business advice and motivates her to improve her brand, Bonnet Culture. Social media gives brands visibility and that has been the go-to platform for Bonnet Culture. But, the business did not attain the desired customer engagement until Omwoleso. After interacting with various buyers and entrepreneurs who came to Omwoleso, she came to the realization that she needed to brand her business better. Asekenye has since reviewed Bonnet Culture’s social media platforms and designed a logo.
The business’ sales have grown from Shs40,000 to Shs100,000 per week. Its social media platforms have more engagement now. Asekenye has also been able to strike invaluable partnerships with people who supported her to formalise the business.
For Kenneth Lubulwa of Penny and Kenny Crafts, it is at the Omwoleso that his customers get to have a personal feel of the bamboo and wood products that he makes and displays on Facebook. Given how amazed most buyers were by the uniqueness of his furniture, utensils and household items, Lubulwa now anticipates more customers and more sales.
What is Omwoleso?
The Marketplace Lead at MoTIV, Nick Spencer, says Omwoleso was introduced as a necessary response to the unique quality Ugandan products made at MoTIV. Omwoleso is a market that allows makers to showcase their products, grow their brands and connect with customers.
“The platform exists to give makers space and resources to tell their story and connect with their customers,” Spencer says.
Having built a space for artisans and creatives working with woodwork, textile, metal and other materials, the next logical step was to provide a place where they could exhibit their merchandise. Starting with a small exhibition in January this year, the event has grown to feature over 100 businesses. To date, the three Omwoleso events held at the Bugolobi-based MoTIV space in Kampala have brought in over 124 businesses and connected them to over 400 customers.