Q: Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Diane Basemera and I’m the founder and CEO of Amooti.org. Amooti is an online marketplace that provides easy access to Africa inspired art, fashion and culture, but at the same time helping African artists and designers gain an income for their products.
Q: What led you to the work you’re doing now?
So many things led me to the work I’m doing right now. So many things I personally experienced. I’m trying to go over two of them. First and foremost, I moved here from Uganda. I needed this product from Uganda, but I couldn’t easily access them. I went online but I could barely find anything. I found etsy, but etsy have crafts from all over the world. I just thought in one moment that Africa needs a home of its own. Africa is a really huge continent, with about 54 countries and over 3000 tribes. I thought the opportunity is right in there. If each country is represented by at least 10 artists sharing their unique crafts, then that’s a business opportunity. African living in US send so much money back home, because Africa is still developing, people need money, people need their income. Instead of people continuously having people being cash cost, how about creating an opportunity where people in Africa can be self reliant. They have their skills, their talents, and be able to produce their own crafts and clothes, send them here for people who are looking for meaningful purposeful handmade products.
Q: If you could have three wishes, what would they be?
Three wishes…I wish that people will stop seeing “color”. Because at the end of day we are all human – I still remain a human, you still remain a human. The color thing is misleading. People should just stop seeing “color”. My second wish is I wish that my family was together. My family is located all over the world. Some of my family is in Uganda, some of my family is in UK, in South Africa, here (in US), in Switzerland, everywhere. I just wish my family could be together. My third wish…I just wish that Amooti.org creates that impact that I dream of everyday, that impact to touch everyone’s life whether living here or in Africa. My biggest wish is that Amooti turns into an empire that impacts people’s life, especially those in Africa.
Q: If you could go back and give yourself three pieces of advice when you started your project/organization/business, what would that advice be?
Everyday I’m learning from this project. One piece of advice I would give is you need to plan. You need to plan and be realistic on how things are. I wish that in the beginning, I sat down and draw a plan, and know that this is what’s going to be, this is the financial plan, etc. It’s all about planning. Planning is the preparation. But again, I guess the planning may not necessarily be perfect, if it’s your first time to do something, it’s the first time that I’m being an online entrepreneur. Another piece of advice is you need support. You need family support. You need friend support. You need to surround yourself with people who are like-minded, because they are the only people who will understand you. They are the only people who understand when you dream big. They are the people who check you and ask you so how far are you going. So surround yourself with like-minded people. The third piece of advice is faith and positivity. I honestly think anybody who gets into the path of entrepreneurship has some crazy in them. Because it requires patience, it requires persistence, it requires courage. There’re ups and there’re downs, but how do you rise from the downs, how do you let the ups not excite you to lose focus. It requires the constant thinking of your project, day and night, in bed, as you’re driving, as you’re trying to interact with other people. Yes, so my advice is to stay positive and keep the faith.