Recently the 40 40 team and I had an opportunity to spread the word about our cause and sell some of our branded merchandise that helps us raise funds.
It was one of the most difficult crowds we have had to deal with.
Below I share some of the highlights and ‘low lights’ of the evening.
I got there a bit early and didn’t see any face I recognised so I started to make some calls.
In a short time, I had the merchandise delivered, found the table we were to use and was joined by a friend to help with the set up. Company just makes t all a little easier.
The sun was blazing and if you have been in Kampala lately, you know that is a bit of an understatement.
My friend and I camped under a tent with some ‘strangers’ and tried to get comfortable.
Before long we were joined by some familiar faces. In a short while, we had a gazebo lent to us and could start to set up with some smiles.
We hadn’t carried our banner but when a Good Samaritan gave us some manila, we improvised. It was given a personal touch with….*guess what*….lipstick! Cool friends, yes? Yes.
When we thought we were ‘ready,’ some of the merchandise mysteriously disappeared. Thorough searches and a police dog later and voila- the badges, mirrors and wristbands re-appeared! Phew
This is the ‘fun’ part. We tried to attract as many people as we could to our table as they passed by or generally share info about the cause. Some were polite, others…not so much.
- This gentleman walks towards our table at a point when sales were pretty low; serious face, wearing spects and looking pretty sure. We immediately prepare ‘the speech.’ He leans over and asks “Where is the bathroom?” It was so sad and extremely funny.
- This other not-so-gentleman came by and picked a badge. We told him it was 4,000 shillings. He threw it and mumbled ‘I thought it was free.’ Believe it or not, several other people thought like him or at least pretended to.
- Two members of my team were engaged in a conversation when I noticed two guys peeking over them. I sent them away, told them to find someplace else to talk. They obliged. Then the ‘customers’ asked “Is this where we buy the cocktails?” Hahaha, really? Right behind the t.shirts and wristbands, we were mixing cocktails according to these guys?
Not over yet
Just when I thought we had seen it all. Someone I shall call Peter came over to our table. He seemed to be tipsy, with a lot to get off his chest.
I began to tell him what we had on offer and that is when the outburst began. “You must be millionaires by now. How did you even manage to get into this event? You are such a business woman Esther.”
Me: Uhm, all the proceeds go to charity, We simply wanted to reach more people.
Peter: Shya, you are just getting rich. I heard you built a hostel and are now building classrooms.
People take years to do those things and you have done it in such a short time. Do you expect me to believe you?
At this point I realised defending myself wouldn’t help. I simply listened and tried to smile.
His banter lasted longer than I wished. When he left, another member of the team told me she knew him from a past event. He had given her trouble because he didn’t want to pay the 3,000 UGX entrance fee and kept swearing unnecessarily.
I am not sure if this made me feel better or sorrier for him.
At the end of it all, this evening had so many lessons for us to learn from.
I was particularly pleased with the team effort and how everyone withstood the tough crowd to actually make sales and network while remaining pleasant through it all.
We exited after midnight but the learning shall probably go on for a lifetime.