Manuella Mulondo Pacutho (c) who emerged 1st runner up in the inaugural Rising Woman Initiative.
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.
Manuela P. Mulondo, the 2 nd runner up winner of Season 1 of ‘Rising Woman’ in 2018, shares her journey of participating in the competition and her passion to see a Uganda where women succeed at the workplace while enjoying motherhood.
Q: Tell us about yourself and your business.
A: My name is Emmanuella Pacutho Mulondo, I am the CEO and the founder of The Cradle Childcare. The Cradle is a childcare and education service designed for the workplace. Our Vision is to see a Uganda where women are free to maximize their potential professionally and still be able to raise well-adjusted children. We partner with organizations, families, or businesses
to set up spaces for childcare at the workplace.
Q: Describe your experience, participating in the Rising Woman competition?
A: It was quite the exciting experience! Meeting the sponsors of the initiative and the defense of my proposal stood out for me because it’s not always easy to translate your passion into words.
Q: What was your key highlight from your participation in the Rising Woman competition?
A: My highlight was the grand finale. Receiving the recognition and prize as1 st runner up was very important to me. My prize also came with a book titled “The Manicure” which transformed my life.
Also, later that evening, I was traveling to South Africa for the Obama Fellowship, so I had double excitement as you can imagine.
Q: Looking back to when you started, how did the Rising Woman program change/impact your life?
A: I can think of two things that made significant differences to myself and my business: going to Nairobi, Kenya, and the practicality of the Rising Woman Program. The practicality of Rising Woman is what impacted me the most, because we met successful and influential businesswomen who have transformed the economic landscape of Kenya. To date, their dedication and drive continue to inspire me. I met and made mentors during the trip to Nairobi, and I am still thankful for that.
Q: If you were to go back in time, what would you have done differently?
A: I don’t think I would do anything any differently because given the information I had then, I gave the competition my best and I was among the winners. Maybe I would have done more, but not differently.
Q: What lessons did you pick from your experience with the Rising Woman Initiative?
A: My biggest lesson was seeing the successful entrepreneurs we met in Nairobi being able to balance work and life. Both my roles at home and at work are equally important to me so understanding how to make them co-exist successfully was quite critical for me.
I also learnt that it’s possible for us as women to change the economic landscape in the country.
Q: Have you realized any opportunities or benefits because of your participation in the Rising Woman competition?
A: Rising Woman was a steppingstone for me. The publicity raised our brand equity as The Cradle. The good book says, “Why light a candle and put it under the table?” Our brand was more visible because of Rising Woman.
Q: What advice would you give to a woman entrepreneur whos’ still undecided about taking part in the Rising Woman Initiative?
A: I say; go for it! Even if you do not make it to the top participants, Rising Woman helps you refine your dream and business. The feedback from the judges gives you direction on how to grow your enterprise, no matter its size or area of focus.
Again, GO FOR IT!
Q: What tips can you share for anyone planning to join the competition?
A: It’s important to understand that the organizers of this initiative aren’t seeking for perfect proposals or a certain level of expertise. Passion and the desire to communicate your short and long-term goals is what will make you stand out. So, I would say be raw and candid in your presentation, be confident in your dream and give your business a chance to benefit from this program.