By Ben Ssebuguzi
Indian Prime Minister Nerandra Modi just concluded his two day visit in Uganda the other day, where he met thousands of Indians at Kololo Air strip. According to President Museven’s speech, he noted that 80 percent of the top companies in Uganda are owned by Indians which means that others own only a paltry 20 percent, which leaves a lot to be desired.
According to Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) studies, a research done indicated that just about 17 per cent of indigenous businesses in the country have been operating for at least two decades. This shows that Ugandan owned business mortality rates are still high. This could be as a result of poor management skills and poor succession skills as most of the businesses die with their owners, which is a different story with Indian business gurus. For them, they are able to orient their children at an early stage which has helped them run their enterprises from one decade to another which is very rare with indigenous Ugandans.
A case study of two Indian entrepreneurs of Ugandan origin is a good lesson to not only youths of Uganda but the entire business community. Mr. Alykhan Karmali,the top boss of Mukwano group of companies took over the mantle from his father Mr.Amirali Karmali who was born in Bukandula in 1930, and up to now Mukwano group is still a huge enterprise diversifying in Agriculture, Industry, Real estate and among others where they are employing many Ugandans directly and indirectly, with contracts of 45,000 outgrowers in Masindi.
Another most important business magnet of Indian origin who has withstood the test of time and proved his foes that he is a business magnet, even after schemers plotted for his downfall by sarcastically ‘taking over’ one of his best ‘cows’- Crane Bank is Dr.Sudhir Ruparelia!
He is the Chairman and majority shareholder in Ruperelia Group with conglomerate in Insurance, Real Estate, Broadcasting, Floriculture,Hospitality, among others.
This once poverty stricken Ugandan youth of Indian origin born from Kasese, growing up from Jinja has managed to train his brilliant and aggressive son to be in charge of running his empire at an early age where by in case he is no longer alive, the son is able to add on what his father will have left behind.
Rajiv Ruparelia has already shown signs that he can do much more taking over from his father if you look at what he already been able to achieve with the current adds on of new buildings under his watch, such as Kampala Skyline, Bouleverd, Market plaza,Kingdom Kampala, to mention but a few, on top of running the biggest flower companies; Rosebud Limited and Premier Roses that employs over 6000 Ugandan youths.
In total, Rajiv pays a monthly wage bill of Ush 3billions for all employees in his companies. This is a good example of a young person to emulate being groomed by his parents for proper succession of his father’s empire.
The last example is Chairman Hasmukh Dawda of the popular fruit juice Company-Splash under Britania Allied Industries Ltd. Dr.Dawda groomed his two sons Mr.Vinay Dawda and Manish Dawda as early as their high school days, when African youths were breaking off school to go visiting their relatives, Dawda’s sons were being trained hands on, on entrepreneurial skills, today Vinay Dawda runs Splash in Uganda while Manish Dawda runs House of Manji Kenya among other family businesses.
Ben Ssebuguzi is Team Leader: Youth Power Research Uganda & Secretary General Uganda Poor Youth Movement. (Additional information by Andrew Irumba)