Nakato Barbara is an entrepreneur and director at Nature’s Love Packaging (NLP), specializing in eco-friendly custom packaging. She holds a bachelor’s degree in procurement and logistics management from Ndejje University. Nakato is a graduate of the Continental Boot Camp Training on AfCFTA and the Stanbic Incubator Program. She holds certificates in Enterprise Development, Intra-African Trade, and Export Readiness.

Currently, she leads partnerships and engagements for the Independent Continental Youth Advisory Council on AfCFTA, promoting AfCFTA initiatives and awareness among traders and entrepreneurs. 

We recently had a chat with Barbara. She shared about her remarkable journey through the StartHub Launchpad program and the transformative impact it had on her business and career.

Barbara has seen remarkable growth since then. Without further ado, let us dive into her inspiring story.

Nakato Barbara, director at Nature’s Love Packaging (NLP)
  1. What year did you join, and how did you learn about the Launchpad program? 

In 2019, while I was in my second year at Ndejje University, I met the Starthub Africa team. They had set up a tent on our campus, passionately sharing information about their program and the opportunities they offered to students. 

I was intrigued by the things they said, so I approached their tent to learn more. That’s how I learned about an information session and registered.  

The idea of diving into the world of entrepreneurship and gaining hands-on experience instantly captivated me. I later submitted my application, considering that the program was also highly recommended by one of my entrepreneurship lecturers. 

  1. What made you want to participate in the program? 

I had a desire to understand the intricacies of the business world, particularly how to start a business with little to no capital.  

During my high school years at Mengo Senior School, my twin sister and I heard a lot during entrepreneurship classes that one needed capital as a fundamental requirement to start a business. When the team at StartHub said it was possible to start a business with as little as Ush 5,000, I wanted to see if it would work.  

At university, I knew I wanted to do more than just attend lectures, return home, and repeat the cycle. So I embarked on the journey of learning and self-discovery. 

I was eager to uncover the secrets of generating income beyond the classroom, put theory into practice, and taste what real entrepreneurship looks like. 

Nakato’s stall at a business expo
  1. At the time of joining, did you have a business, or you were at the idea stage?  

I didn’t have a business yet, but my sister and I had some ideas, though we were not sure about the right one to pursue.  

  1. How did the Launchpad program affect the kind of business idea you came up with? 

When I joined the Launchpad program at Ndejje University, I soon became an ambassador for the StartHub Club at the university, alongside two other students. 

Some of our roles as StartHub ambassadors included organizing weekly entrepreneurship sessions, where we encouraged fellow students to join and learn with us.  

During one session led by Mr. Joel Bamwise, we were tasked with brainstorming business ideas that we could start with capital of Ush 5,000 (about $2). 

At first, we considered making crisps but then decided against it since the Ush 5,000 would not have been enough to make it a success.

My sister Allen came up with the perfect idea: to make packaging material. We went ahead and bought material with part of the Uhs 5000 and started making paper bags from old newspapers and our schoolbooks, which we no longer needed.  

We supplied this packaging material to the school canteens and local businesses in our village. This 5k business challenge marked the beginning of our venture, which has now grown into Nature’s Love Packaging. 

Products by NLP
  1. How did the Launchpad program help you establish your business? 

During our time in the Launchpad program, we were tasked with several critical activities, such as identifying market opportunities, calculating business expenses, and determining profits. We shared our progress and findings every Friday.  

This hands-on experience taught us about the realities of entrepreneurship beyond the confines of textbooks. We actively established our presence in the market and learned on the job.  

As we progressed, we formalized our business and registered with URSB under the name “Nature’s Love Packaging Company.”

Our core focus was solving packaging challenges. We identified several problems and embarked on a mission to develop sustainable solutions. 

Our first clients were school canteen owners. We also received a lot of support and mentorship from the academy facilitators, including notable business leaders like the CEO of SAS Best Foods, Mr. Aksam Mivule, and the CEO of Grin Foods Restaurant.  

We were overjoyed to receive our first order from Grin Foods Restaurant. That empowered us to keep pursuing our dreams as entrepreneurs.  

  1. What major things did you learn that pushed you to implement your business idea? 

As a StartHub ambassador, I often visited other universities like Makerere and Uganda Christian University (UCU) to invite students to our info sessions so that they could learn about our StartHub club and other programs they could be part of.  

During one of the visits at UCU, a certain student asked us if we had our own business. At that time, we had not yet started fully running our business, but we felt pushed to move forward, implement our packaging idea, and promote the business even more.

By doing this, If someone else asked if we had a business, we would proudly say we had businesses and therefore were Good StartHub ambassadors.   

I was also inspired by a testimony from Arnold of Zetu Africa. His business makes bags, which can also be turned into classroom furniture. Such stories made me want to impact my community too.

Packaging for EFC made by Nature’s Love Packaging (NLP)
  1. How did the Launchpad program shape your view of entrepreneurship? 

Absolutely, yes. After joining the program, I became a problem solver. With NLP, we’re now among the nationally recognized businesses working hard to tackle the negative effects of climate change by making branded, affordable, eco-friendly packages. 

I started believing that entrepreneurship was doable and not as hard as I had thought. Today, we have a knowledgeable customer base, provide employment opportunities for casual laborers, and maintain a team of six permanent workers.

We probably wouldn’t have made it this far without the program.

  1. If you went back in time to do the Launchpad again, what would you do differently? 

If I went back, I’d urge all my university friends to join the Launchpad program.

In Uganda, we’re not taught to challenge ourselves and do hard things. Everyone wants to do easy businesses like selling clothes and shoes.  

The more we challenge ourselves, the more opportunities we’re exposed to. But as for the rest of the journey, I proudly say I made it in life because of Starthub Africa. 

Barbara Nakato, director at NLP
  1. What wins, successes, or recognitions have you received along the way? 

Our business, Nature’s Love Packaging (NLP), is now a registered business in Uganda. We have managed to create a diverse product range, including branded paper bags, shawarma wrappers, and eco-friendly tote bags.  

We are committed to raising awareness of environmental sustainability, particularly among women and youth, through training programs.

We have gained certifications from reputable organizations like Rotaract Ladies Initiatives (ROLI) and the Stanbic Business Incubator.

One of the certifications Barbara has received

We also have partnerships with institutions like the Girl Power Ministry, where we actively participate in skill-building initiatives for young women.  We teach them how to create paper bags and equip them with the tools to enable them to start their own businesses. 

Our journey has been marked by milestones, including a growing permanent workforce and media coverage on prominent platforms such as Spark TV, Baba TV, BBS TV, and various YouTube channels.  

These platforms have allowed us to share our story of how we began and capitalized on the opportunities presented by the lockdown.  

My sister Allen is now pursuing a Master’s Degree in Energy Economics to enhance the company’s intellectual capabilities in product development and quality management.

A certificate awarded to NLP by Rotaract Club Kampala Central
  1. Any words of wisdom to young people who aspire to become business owners soon?

My advice to young entrepreneurs is to build a dedicated team of like-minded individuals who share a passion for the business. 

Entrepreneurship, especially in the early stages, can be isolating, leading to challenges like overwhelming responsibilities and limited experiences when trying to share the burden.  Having a well-organized team allows for effective task delegation.

Networking is another helpful skill you need. But you’ll need faith and perseverance even more. You will meet many obstacles, but as long as you keep believing in yourself and in your business, you will make it. 


If you enjoyed Barbara’s story, click here to learn more about the StartHub Launchpad program.

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