Ugandan Endeavor: Business Questions (#1)

With the beginning of the internet cafe in/around MBale, Uganda coming up very soon, there are many questions that need to be answered quickly so that this endeavor can progress. No white board here, but please comment and provide suggestions if you have some insight.

  1. Software:
    1. What is good internet cafe software to use in Uganda?
      1. Is it free (or fairly cheap – less than $250 for 11 workstations)?
      2. NET MANAGER (Ugandan developed software, through a contact)
      3. Butterfly (http://www.dsmagic.com/products/butterfly/butterfly_ne.htm)
    2. What features does the software need to support?
      1. Internet restriction only?
      2. Workstation restrictions?
      3. Pay per print?
      4. Prepay, postpay, tiered/varied time/account-based pricing?
      5. Coupons for free usage?
    3. What client software is important? Here is a list provided by an in-country contact. Please weigh-in as appropriate.
      1. MS Windows
      2. MS Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)
      3. MS Publisher
      4. Adobe Acrobat Reader
      5. Tool for converting files to PDF
    4. Should we look at purchasing such software during the start-up?
      1. Are there pricing-breaks for MS Office and other MS software for non-profit/charitable organizations?
  2. What is the Market like?
    1. Who will be the primary customer/target audience?
    2. What is important to the target customer in an internet cafe?
      1. Internet/Webmail access?
      2. Chat/Instant Message technologies?
      3. Application use (Office/Publishing/Productivity tools)?
      4. Printing capabilities?
      5. Scanning ability?
      6. Image/Picture Editing?
      7. Large screen/monitor?
    3. What is the competition?
      1. What software do the competitors offer?
      2. What software do the competitors use to mange the internet cafe?
      3. What is the pricing structure of the competition?
      4. What hours are competitors generally open?
      5. What speed/bandwidth do the competitors offer?
  3. What ways can the business be structured organizationally for maximum benefit?
    1. (How) does the business need to be registered?
    2. Can the business be registered under a category to lessen tax burden?
      1. Non-profit? Charitable? etc.
    3. Should the business be locally and/or foreign(US) owned/managed?
  4. Other revenue streams: What other ways can the cafe generate revenue?
    1. USB/Thumb-drive sales?
    2. CD-R Sales
    3. Color printing/copying?
    4. Coffee / Baked goods sales within the establishment?
    5. Premium content/connection stream (VoIP, Downloads, Video, etc)?
  5. Staff: What job roles are required?
    1. Daily Accountant / Manager
    2. Technician (on-call? part-time?)
    3. Sales Associate (2, 6-hour shifts?)
    4. Adviser / Auditor / Consultant

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Jason Lund

One thought on “Ugandan Endeavor: Business Questions (#1)”

  1. 1. What is good internet cafe software to use in Uganda?
    > Butterfly is the most popular.
    > It is free – the author earns from advertisements in your cafe/s

    2. What features does the software need to support?
    > Internet restriction
    > Workstation restrictions
    > Pay per print (Print Manager is better – Internationally tested)
    > Prepay (Insist on prepayments as a matter of business policy)
    > Coupons for free usage – Membership to retain customers

    3. What client software is important? Here is a list provided by an in-country contact. Please weigh-in as appropriate.
    > Linux as backend for protection and firewall
    > MS Windows is the most common operating system
    > MS Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)
    > MS Publisher (Not much used but important)
    > Adobe Acrobat Reader
    > Tool for converting files to PDF (Bring, rare and expensive here)

    4. Should we look at purchasing such software during the start-up?
    > Purchase if funds allow
    > Are there pricing-breaks for MS Office and other MS software for non-profit/charitable organizations? Negotiate with Microsoft, not easy here

    5. What is the Market like?
    1. Who will be the primary customer/target audience?
    Students, working groups, some private businessmen
    2. What is important to the target customer in an internet cafe?
    >You have it right with your list
    1. Internet/Webmail access?
    2. Chat/Instant Message technologies?
    3. Application use (Office/Publishing/Productivity tools)?
    4. Printing capabilities?
    5. Scanning ability?
    6. Image/Picture Editing?
    7. Large screen/monitor?
    3. What is the competition?
    >Mbale may be different
    >Aim at high quality service and the competition won’t be a major concern
    1. What software do the competitors offer?
    > as above
    2. What software do the competitors use to mange the internet cafe?
    > various but mainly Butterfly because it is free
    3. What is the pricing structure of the competition?
    > Price may differ in Mbale but 25/= standard
    4. What hours are competitors generally open?
    >8:00 am to 9:00 pm upcountry
    5. What speed/bandwidth do the competitors offer?
    >Slow. Aim for above 128kbps for 12 computers, above 256kbps for 24 computers.

    6. What ways can the business be structured organizationally for maximum benefit?
    >Limited Liability Company LLC
    >Involve local stakeholders in planning this detail
    1. (How) does the business need to be registered?
    > Seek legal advise but easy
    2. Can the business be registered under a category to lessen tax burden?
    1. Non-profit? Charitable? etc.
    > Non-profit (NGO) not taxed.
    > Educational not taxed
    3. Should the business be locally and/or foreign(US) owned/managed?
    > Encourage local ownership with strong international leadership support

    4. Other revenue streams: What other ways can the cafe generate revenue?
    > Sell stationery
    > Offer secretarial services
    > Offer training in ICTs
    > Allow youths to participate in developing these

    1. USB/Thumb-drive sales?
    2. CD-R Sales
    3. Color printing/copying?
    4. Coffee / Baked goods sales within the establishment?
    5. Premium content/connection stream (VoIP, Downloads, Video, etc)?
    5. Staff: What job roles are required?
    > Manager may double as trainer to keep costs low
    > Technician
    > Accountant (may be later)
    > Internet sales staff
    > Cleaner
    > Others as you diversify
    > Involve local stakeholders all the way
    1. Daily Accountant / Manager
    2. Technician (on-call? part-time?)
    3. Sales Associate (2, 6-hour shifts?)
    4. Adviser / Auditor / Consultant

    More later as we continue the discussion.

    Patrick

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