INTERVIEW: Jo Nganda Founder of Kitenge Festival UK

20 min read

Jo Nganda is an award winning entreprenuer,  publicist and charity campaigner. She is also the CEO of Jozyz Agency an Events Planning, PR and Management Company and founder of Kitenge Festival UK, Hope Alive Mission. Fashionpit Ug’s Sipho Nyiiro caught up with her and she told us what one should expect at this year’s Kitenge Fastival UK in the interview below

Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Jo Nganda and i am an award winning entreprenuer, publicist and charity campaigner. I am CEO of Jozyz Agency an Events Planning, PR and Management company. I am founder of Kitenge Festival UK, Hope Alive Mission  and the Ladyboss Network which holds free events with an aim to get together Women in Business to network and share successes, challenges and future prospects. I am also the Secretary of the Ugandan Entertainment Association UK since its formation three years ago.  I am the Director of Kitenge Festival UK a non-profit community body which aims to promote African fashion, culture, business & the arts in the UK.

Kindly Tell Us About “Jozyz Agency”?

Jozyz Agency is an Events Planning, PR and Management company. Jozyz is actually registered in Uganda since 2007 and through which i had projects like Community charity campaigns and Jozyz Boutique which was my first foray into fashion. The boutique closed August 2016 after a 10 years run as i wanted to pursue other interests like Kitenge Festival UK .

What brings out the most excitement for you in event planning?

Birthing an idea and nurturing it to something tangible. Managing a project from start to finish. For me the excitement comes from all aspects, the people you meet along the way, the contractors that make your vision become a reality; even the challenges and risks if you can overcome them in the end can make the job worthwhile.

Kindly share the list of events you have managed before?

Well you heard about the annual Kitenge Festival UK which is now in its 5th year, African Cup UK 2014 which i believe was my launchpad into community projects and then there’s the Mama Rita Cancer Appeal which is still the biggest fundraising Cancer appeal in the Ugandan community in the UK to date.  The Annual Uganda Entertainment Association Community Football Match. These are some of the events am proud to have been a part of.

What is the largest event (based on budget or number of attendees) you have ever planned or assisted with planning?

This year’s event is without a doubt the largest in terms of numbers (700 Tickets), Exhibitors (100 stands), two traditional bands, 11 local and international designers, 10 music artists and so on. It’s just taken on a life of its own and am not about to tell you the budget but its huge and ofcourse this is still a self funded project so I’d very much welcome sponsors to support next years’ festival.

What would you say is the key to success?

Plan early, plan the execution and give yourself time to do the work. Know your audience and what they want. Pull together a great team with a variety of skills and give them the space to get on with the job. Have a budget and work within your budget constraints.  Be accountable. Seek feedback and learn from past mistakes.

Do you have any business advice for people who are trying to make it in the fashion industry or any other business in general?

Take risks. You will fail at some point but do not dwell on your failures. Instead, keep moving forward with new projects and new energy.

What or who motivates you or inspires you to continue doing what you do?

There’s not just one person that inspires me in Business but if I had to name one it would be my boyfriend Lawrie as he inspires me every day. He shows complete faith in my ideas and my endeavors. He’s helped me develop my business model, spends sleepless nights working unpaid on my projects. What’s more, he helped the enterprise with savings of his own. He’s learnt to cook for me when I am too busy, and is instrumental in my marketing strategy. I owe it all to him.

How did you get into the fashion industry? What were you doing before?

I turned my passion for fashion into a Business. A little over 10 years ago I was visiting family in Uganda. I would take a month’s holiday and just immerse myself in discovering the beauty of my home country. On occasions when I’d hit the shops for a spot of shopping I couldn’t find anything to suit my style as a London or city girl so I decided to open a shop and Jozyz Boutique was born with a central location at Ntinda Quality Mall. I sold British High Street clothes and Accessories which was very unique to Kampala at the time. I made a lot of connections through Jozyz which has become a brand in its own right over the years.  I am a UK Government Policy Advisor for the last 13 years so the fashion or any other projects are hobbies that morph into something of their own.

Why did you decide to start Kitenge Festival UK?

I wanted to promote African fashion, culture, business & the arts in the UK and the rest of the world. The one day annual event is a unique platform which showcases Africa’s valuable, distinctive and unique heritage in a carnival/celebration atmosphere whilst instilling a sense of African pride. Our goal is to bring together communities and small businesses under one roof bridging cultural gaps. The event now in its 5th year is designed to appeal to taste makers that take active roles in setting the mould for style, cultural trends and overall ingenuity within the African Community in the UK. Kitenge Festival UK is a personal and professional development opportunity of the year for all the public.

How would you describe the fashion industry in UK?

The best in the world as far as am concerned. This is a £28 billion industry according to figures by the British Fashion Council so fashion is a big contributor to the UK economy. If we take London alone this is where the world’s trends are set, its very eclectic scene and anything goes.

What is your favorite thing about Kitenge Festival UK?

Getting all these people from various African countries under one roof. Promoting African Business through our popup exhibitions and exposing the people and businesses to a wider community. Being unapologetically African through our colourful African attires that we encourage guests to wear on the day.

Since the launch of Kitenge Festival UK, what has been your proudest moment to date?

Seeing the unknown and unsigned talent that we promote each year go on to make their mark in the music industry. Last in 2015 we had a Ugandan artist called Wool Betah Soulja (Johnson Kamoga whom I also mentored and managed through Jozyz Agency) performed for the very first time on a UK stage. He hasn’t looked back ever since and his music career is soaring in London and at home. Last year he won a prestigious award as Best New Comer at Europe’s biggest Black award ceremony the BEFFTA Awards.

This year the Founder of the BEFFTAs Dr. Pauline Long is our presiding guest of honour along with the former Mayor of Lambeth Cllr. Ade Aminu. Am proud of being a part of something like this because it means I have contributed in my own little way.

What should we expect to see from this year’s kitenge festival UK?

A coulourful celebration of Africa descending on East London. We are going to get together under one roof to eat shop, be entertained and cheer on those Kintenge Honourees who will be receiving awards for their outstanding contribution to their communities. We are calling all Africans and friends of Africa, we are expecting you. This is a family friendly event and all are welcome including children. Dr Pauline Long and Cllr Ademola Aminu will be presiding guests of honour. The event will be hosted by Lydia Olet (Kenya in the Park) and Ivan Kaburahe (TGM Radio Broadcaster) and will feature great performances, live bands, dance, competitions, awards presentation, networking, product sampling, fashion expo/stalls, drum workshops, fashion shows and traditional craft displays, African food and face painting. The culture that will be evident on stage in the form of traditional live bands and young talent making their mark in entertainment industry. There is also a vast array of the 70 African businesses that we have pulled together to exhibit.

Featured Performances will include headline act Afro Jazz sensation and Percutionist Seby Ntege & live band. Other acts include Sabbey International Drummers, Bantu Arts, Kuklee Ali, Da Sweetnezz ArA Harmonics, Marianna Zapi, Lady Marga MC, Ayo, Angel SBL and Kleo Artist.

What are the 3 things you would never want to happen at Kitenge Festival UK?

Oh dear! Fights breaking out, that would be awful, some disaster like a fire or something like that. Worst case scenario would be if the event got shut down (I rebuke all of it in Jesus’ name, Amen).

Can you give us any clues on what you are to wear during Kitenge Festival UK 2017?

I have no clue who or what am wearing. Usually i wear Ugandan designers Alecool Clothing by Alex Alecool or The Klassics Designs by my sister Primrose Kwezi. This year it’s a tough decision as 5 designers have offered to dress me including our own Arab Money CEO turned Designer Sue O’chola De Roy.

The wardrobe will be decided on the day. Let’s get the preparations out of the way first.

What are your hopes and dreams for the future of Kitenge Festival UK?

To grow the festival locally and internationally. Maybe we can spread out over the weekend or a whole week of celebrations rather than just the 6 hours. May be we could attract much needed funding and sponsorship. Maybe we could take the festival on a world tour to different cities. Maybe we could build something that gives back to those in need and give a voice to the voiceless through our Hope Alive initiative. Maybe we will continue to act as a launch pad the young talent and their careers. The vision is Big!

Special Thanks;

Media Partners: Hona Africa, Hotshots Multi-media, BlacknBold Magazine & African Glitz, Ayuba Magazine, Afrokanist Magazine, FashionpitUG, Elevate Designs, Exquisite Model Management.

Supported by: Senditoo,Jozyz Agency of Events & PR, Pauline Long Show, Hona Africa, Active Newham.

Brought you by JozyzAgency in Partnership with Open the Gate.

Location: Newham Leisure Centre

Date & Time: 12th August 2017, 12:00pm – 18:00pm

Expected Attendance: 700 plus guests

Exhibitors: 70+

Honourees: 30 people will receive awards

Admission: FREE

General Enquiries:


One Comment

  1. […] Jo has held several paid and unpaid directorship roles to date. Notably, she is Director of Kitenge Festival UK a non-profit community body which aims to promote African fashion, culture, business & the arts in the UK. The one day event is a unique platform which showcases Africa’s valuable, distinctive and unique heritage in a carnival/celebration atmosphere whilst instilling a sense of African pride. The event is designed to appeal to people who take an active role in setting the mould for cultural trends and the overall ingenuity within the African Community in the UK with an aim to bring together local communities and the general public bridging cultural gaps and promoting community cohesion. Now in its 5th year Kitenge Festival UK is FREE to the public. This year’s festival attracted it’s biggest crowd yet in terms of participation and we have no doubt next year will be even bigger.  More on the festival at […]


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