Barefoot in Business: Documentary Review

To say that I've had some lucky breaks in life is an understatement. Everything that I have accomplished, I owe it to a great extent to the hard work of those who came before me: my mother, my grandmother, and womankind in general. Sure, I did the work. But I got a great starting point too. 

Women's rights is an issue that I am passionate about. Women and work, women and entrepreneurship, women breaking glass ceilings...those are topics that hit close to home because not so long ago women were not allowed into certain careers, and it is still weird to see women in Science and Engineering. 

The struggle is real and it looks different (and it is better or worse) depending on where you are born. I cannot tear down the patriarchy by myself, but I know that it is important to support projects that empower woman because if we give a collective damn, then we can move the needle in the direction of progress.

So when I found out about the documentary Barefoot in Business, I didn't hesitate to buy a copy and watch the documentary. 

About the Film: 

Barefoot in Business is a groundbreaking documentary campaign showcasing the work of female entrepreneurs across Uganda and creating a new online marketplace where you can buy their products and help bring their big ambitions to life.

I am not a film critic, so I am not going to attempt to be one in this post. What I can say is that I loved the candor, strength, empathy and FIRE of the women that Carol Cooke followed in this documentary. Did I mention strength already?

The documentary is set around the time of the Female Enterpreneur of the Year award, hosted by the Uganda Women Entrepreneurs Association Ltd (UWEAL). I won't share more because I don't want to ruin the ending for you! I got to learn from Benedicta Nanyonga, who makes women's fashion accessories from plastic straws. Regina, who owns a funeral services business and has "changed the image of death" in Uganda. Tereza Mbire, founder of UWEAL and enterpreneur at heart (you'll hear the stories of the different businesses she successfully launched) and Nelli Ssali, owner of Makika Stylz, a clothing brand. 

The challenges for women and women in business in Uganda are numerous. Power outages make it difficult to have steady production, access to information and resources becomes harder the further away you are from the capital. Furthermore, getting a bank loan is a challenge because women are not land title owners. Despite the challenges, 40% of businesses in Uganda are owned by women. This is an impressive number, considering that in the UK the number is around 17% and in the US it is about 30%

Entrepreneurs from Katagna slum in Kampala, Uganda.JPG


The spirit of the documentary is very optimistic. Through their stories, I learned that Ugandans are still recovering from the brutality of Amin's dictatorship, and at the same time they are opening their eyes to the opportunities that lie ahead of them. It was also a great reminder of the power of women when we come together and support each other. All of the women interviewed shared one passion in common, they all believed that it was their duty and their mission to pass on their knowledge and experience to other women. Nothing, not even making money, was above this responsibility. 

What’s the use of having a skyscraper in a country which is very poor and miserable?
— Tereza Mbire

Watch this documentary and learn from these women.

Our challenges are different, but one thing is universal:

Barefoot in Business Enterpreneur Nellie Ssali
When you empower a woman, you empower the world
— Nelli Ssali

This is a great example of how sisterhoods are powerful and make the difference. The UWEAL is the formal network that supports these women, but throughout the film we see how each of them take what they learn and have an impact in their communities. Sisterhoods transcend culture and geography too. I spoke to Carol Cooke, the maker of this film, and they are busy promoting the film and also creating a marketplace to feature Ugandan women entrepreneurs in the arts, crafts and fashion sectors. 

Carol Cooke #wemeanbusiness Barefoot in Business

I hope to have piqued your interest in watching this beautiful documentary! I have joined Barefoot in Business as an ambassador and our goal is to spread the word about this documentary so it can later fund the activities of the Marketplace.

The dream doesn't stop there, the idea is to replicate this in other parts of Africa (who knows, Asia and Latin America can be next!).

In the meantime, use my referral code: ConsciousFashionista to get a 10% discount on the film! 

How about you, do you mean business? 

Follow Barefoot in Business: 

Twitter: @barefootinbiz 

Instagram: @barefootinbiz  

Facebook:  @BarefootInBusinessDocumentary