Selling Ugandan coffee on US shelves: A story of persistence and constant lessons

Tall, trim and handsome, Andrew Rugasira sits upright, his hands resting on the small table in his Good African Café at Lugogo, next to a half-empty bottle of mineral water.

His words, when they come, are deliberate and measured. His stare is intense and searching, only broken to glance and wave at patrons or upwards, when he cracks a joke and his laughter, deep and sincere, bellows out of his frame.

Right now Rugasira is laughing as he recalls being advised to “avoid sudden movements” when meeting potential business partners in Europe. In a world informed by stereotypes, African businessmen have to earn trust at every turn, even if it means learning a whole new body language.

Rugasira has spent most of the last decade learning, both in class where he returned to university in the UK for two master’s degrees, and in the school of hard knocks where he built a fortune and lost it, then rediscovered his inner self – and God – when he started to rebuild it.

It has been a long decade. Back in the 1990s, Rugasira was a household name and king of the castle. His VR Promotions ruled the world of events management, from providing the public address system for Bill Clinton’s visit to Uganda, to promoting the biggest concerts, including that Lucky Dube one. Read More

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