Out of the desire to increase a longer shelf life for fruits, Lynette Akol started Krystal Ice Limited. Her vision was clear vision – to provide market for the fruit produce of smallholder farmers by using them as raw materials for frozen fruit ice pops.The business owner understood that the linkages along the agricultural value chain would be instrumental for the growth of her Company but also play a role in cementing Uganda’s vision of Buy Uganda, Build Uganda.
For the past five years, dfcu Bank in partnership with Daily Monitor and Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) have run a program dubbed ‘Rising Woman’ which is aimed at recognizing, celebrating, and promoting a culture of mentorship among women in business in Uganda.
In 2018, Lynette Akol participated in the Rising Woman proposal writing competition and emerged the overall winner. In an interview, she shares her experience then and the current standing of her business.
1. Tell us about yourself and the business you do
My name is Lynette Akol, the Managing Director of Krystal Ice Limited, a food processing company. I am a woman entrepreneur and a mother. At Krystal Ice, we produce ice pops which are made from fruits sourced from small holder farmers.
2. What was your experience participating in the Rising Woman competition?
I remain grateful that the Rising Woman experience was as transparent and fair as it was rigorous. Being the pioneer winner was humbling, educational and it gave my business the opportunity to achieve more success.
3. What was your key highlight participating in the Rising Woman competition?
The night when I was announced the overall winner was my highlight. It was a very ceremonious event with high profile guests! Achieving that level of and receiving the award and cheque was a reaffirmation that I was on the right path.
4. Looking back to when you started, how did the Rising Woman program/competition change you/impact on you?
Before becoming a part of the Rising Woman program, I wasn’t quite sure that I was taking the right direction so the opportunity to test my will, determination and belief in my business came at the right time. It was also a learning and empowering journey; the program helped me to become more efficient and effective in the way I manage the business.Now I have more confidence in what I do. And thanks to the training we received in Nairobi, Kenya, interacting with the other businesswomen in Nairobi helped me to build my confidence in the way I was doing business.After listening to their stories, I was sure I too, could reach the summits of entrepreneurial success.
5. If you were to go back in time, what would you have done differently?
Honestly, I don’t think I would change anything, the whole process was transparent and well organized. I also believe that the different partners did well to have women involved at each step of the competition. Representation matters because there are unique challenges faced by women in entrepreneurship that can best be understood by other women.
6. What progress have you registered as a business and as an individual?
It has been and still is quite the journey! It has enabled me to develop growth strategies for what I believe is a strong brand; giving us more ground to succeed. The competition also helped me understand my business better by making me write a business proposal. That forces you to think and dig deep.
7. What opportunities have you received because of your participation in the Rising Woman competition?
The exposure and visibility created by dfcu Bank, Daily Monitor and Uganda Investment Authority helped me position my business better. When customers have read your story and believe in it, you have to deliver well, consistently.
I was a recipient of the GroWe Award, the business received a business development service from Feed the Future who helped us design marketing and distribution strategies.
8. What advice would you give to a woman entrepreneur who is still undecided about joining this year’s Rising Woman Initiative on joining the Rising woman competition?
Overall, you have to believe in yourself and your dreams because no one will do that for you. It is important to leverage your social networks, be resilient and have passion for what you are doing because without passion, it’s easy to throw in the towel.
9. Please share some tips for anyone planning to join the competition
I would just tell them to submit their proposals because everyone is a winner, in the long run.
10. Where do you see your business heading?
It’s been tough, many businesses have been affected by Covid-19, but now we have started to see light at the end of the tunnel. I see my products being available everywhere and accessible in supermarkets throughout Uganda, East Africa and beyond. I would like to have a strong, socially responsible brand that is internationally recognized.
Monitor Publications Limited’s (MPL) flagship brand Daily Monitor in partnership with dfcu Women in Business Program and Uganda Investment Authority-UIA are running the fifth season of the Rising Woman campaign. The objectives of the campaign include; recognizing, celebrating, and promoting a culture of mentorship among women in business in Uganda.An all-expenses paid study trip to Nairobi for the top 10 winners and cash prizes of up to Shs 30 million are up for grabs for the top three winners.