[Interview] Maria E. Auma, Managing Partner, Blue Luxury Investments, Uganda
Maria E. Auma is a Ugandan entrepreneur and finance expert. She is currently the Managing Partner of Blue Luxury Investments, an investment management firm based in Kampala, Uganda.
Could you introduce your company?
Blue Luxury Investments (BLI) is an investment management firm focused on smart investing into emerging markets. We fundraise for seed, angel, venture capital, private equity through our extensive networks with highnet worth individuals, family offices, private investors, sovereign wealth funds, financial institutions, investment clubs and partnerships with other investment firms. We envision a growing African economy that is transforming to change its narrative as “Africa Rising”, with our contribution being the backing of economically viable and socially astute investments.
Where is Blue Luxury Investments located and how is it funded?
Currently we are based in Kampala, Uganda and have in the recent years grown our operations into East Africa (Kenya, Rwanda) and Southern Africa (South Africa, Mauritius).
We raise capital primarily through shareholders, private investors and organic growth.
What are your company’s Unique Selling Points?
We are passionate about what we do and strive to be the best in the industry. This is demonstrated through our engagement with our portfolio companies, partners, investors and clients. We want those who engage with us to be able to relate with our vision and our mission, to own it with us and join us on an unforgettable African-changing journey. We are very particular about keeping an open-door policy in a world where a lot of people prefer to keep their doors closed. Most of all we believe in the power of stories to change lives and bring about impact. This is why all our fundraising efforts employ story telling as a large component. We draw from our own experiences, and that of the companies we work with, making sure to document achievements and key lessons learned.
Who are your clients?
80 per cent of our clients are private companies, and 20 per cent organisations. Going forward, we are cautiously optimistic about government not only as potential clients, but also as collaborators.
Has your company formed any strategic partnerships with other companies or organizations?
Yes, we are forming strategic alliances with organisations across the board. Our reason for this is that we strongly believe that change happens best across different sectors. So for example, to achieve specific results it is important to seek out partnerships not just in the private sector, but in the public spaces as well. Our partnerships are collaborative in nature and include Adansonia an impact accelerator programme that trains and nurtures businesses across Africa, E4Impact based in Italy and working with various Universities within Africa, #NatureForAll a global movement founded to inspire the love of nature, Imuka Ventures based in Uganda, Singularis Advisors who are skilled in bridge capital finance based in Central and Eastern Europe but with successful operations in Africa and family offices in Europe.
What are the ambitions of Blue Luxury Investments?
Our goal is to raise more funds this year through grants, angel investors, partners, bids for work and our networks. We are looking to expand into the rest of Africa and attract more funding for African businesses in the next three years and hope to directly impact over 10,000,000 lives within the continent. Our more ostentatious goal is to set up an office in New York, New York for financial reasons and we have been carrying out research on steps and procedures needed to make this a reality. We are also working to get five institutional investors on board to invest in our fund as this would greatly increase our traction and scale our impact on the continent.
In what direction will your company be going this year?
An aspect we are finding very important in creating change is harnessing the power of policy and advocacy skills, and we will be doing a lot of that this year.
We will also be adopting technology to improve fundraising for startups and projects within communities that will include harnessing blockchain for good. We really want to step out of our comfort zone this year, take more risks so we can help more social entreprises change lives.
We have launched fundraising for our funds with interested inquiries from all over the world and we will be targetting start-ups, early stage and growth companies. Our target is to close successful fundraising by December, 2018 at the latest.
Very key and dear to my heart are women and girls. We are therefore paying keen interest to projects and businesses that seek to empower women and girls either through improved livelihoods or direct job employment, and are encouraging our portfolio companies not to forget to keep this in mind.
What is the latest news from Blue Luxury Investments?
We are currently working with Youth Equality Centre Uganda on the “Adolescent Girls and Young Women’s Forum on Global Fund” to equip ourselves with skills on advocacy, accountability and policy research into Global Fund activities and how this affects grassroots communities. Some issues we are addressing under Global Fund include Gender Based Violence and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights and how budgets for projects are financed and accounted for.
We also participated in the design of a Policy Statement in Salzburg under the “Parks of the Planet – Nature and Childhood: From Research and Activism to Policies for Global Change” whose focus was making more outdoor play possible for children all over the world, and getting stakeholder buy-in to make this a reality. We learned that children have a voice too and need to be listened to.
We have signed up a number of portfolio companies in the renewable energy space (BioAfriq Energy, Ecobora), health sector (Dial-a-Pad) and education sector (Barlaws Nursery and Primary School). These companies are already doing quite well and we are looking forward to ensuring they perform even better to surpass their annual targets. In line with this we will be doing a number of fundraising and awareness campaigns to get the word out about the amazing job these entrepreneurs are doing to impact lives.
We are also exploring possible collaborations with Den Gronne Friskole, an award winning school in Denmark recognized for their unique teaching skills. Our aim is to nurture a sense of “global friendship and sense of shared purpose, learning about what unites us and how our circumstances are different” to be implemented through the “Pen-Pal project”. We will also be exploring how different nature-based activities can be exchanged and synchronized across the schools with the children and the impact that will have on children’s holistic growth.
We are grateful to say that with combined efforts we are now working towards achieving 12 global goals and we are looking forward to achieving more. From negotiating bridge financing arrangements, to elevating our companies onto the international stage, we really want to change the world. This is possible if we all work together.
Who should contact Blue Luxury Investments, and why?
We welcome opportunities to work together on changing mindsets and impacting lives. We love to fundraise and manage for results and generally enjoy partnering across the board.
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