By Dennis Owachgiu
A casual observation of the businesses on some Ugandan streets like Kampala Road indicates that majority of business owners on that street are either Asians or Ugandans of Asian origin.
Their meteoric rise is a telling indication of their business acumen and lifestyle. They espouse values that the ordinary entrepreneur should learn.
One of their unique traits is financial discipline. Their financial control is one of that is unparalleled.
They delay self gratification as much as possible. Our native young man running a simple kiosk actually spends more on lavish lifestyle than the “muyindi” wholesale dealer from whom he buys his stock.
No “Muyindi” will acquire a bank loan for personal luxuries like household items. It’s cost control that inspires them to ride motorcycles rather than expensive fuel guzzling cars. Not that they fear the cost of a car per se. They know the fuel consumption of a motorcycle is a tiny fraction of a car’s in the long term.
You must have seen them residing in flats in town centers. Reason? They want to stay near their business so that they won’t need to spend time and money commuting to work.
Chances of seeing them at bars spending cash on “detoothers” are almost nonexistent, cost if not minimal. They live frugally like monks in spite of having the financial means. These cost-cutting strategies enable them to save massively. It is the savings that gives them the monetary leverage to continuously expand.
Honesty is one other attributes of these business mavericks. They can easily enter into partnership amongst themselves without fear on being conned. Their trustworthiness means they can obtain new supplies on credit even when they do not have the cash at hand. Even the most scandalous of them who plays hide and seek with employee’s salaries know at some point honesty is vital.
Unlike our average native business owners, price they know who the real boss is. Most Uganda small businesses owners are oblivious of the fact that they are not the boss of their businesses. There is a real boss, and that boss is the customer. Wal-Mart Founder knew this very well and he kept his employees aware about the fact that the customer is the King.
On countless occasions I have encountered too many small scale business owners treating their customers like beggars. Anyone resident in Uganda must have been treated that way more than once, so we both understand.
At least no “Muyindi” will treat you with contempt. Not all Ugandans are like that, but taken collectively, most of our native businessmen have to wake up. Pride is not their thing. Their kids at nurtured for future responsibility while they are still infants. None of their kids will go around bragging to peers as a “rich man’s son”. That humility takes them far.
If you went into the shop of an average ultra-conservative Ugandan Business owner, it takes you just a few seconds to know who the boss is.
The pride, the air of authority, and sometimes the arrogance exhibited by the owner sets him or her apart. When the boss is talking to subordinates, the voice intonations alone identify the boss.
Even in a commuter taxi, you can tell whether the driver owns the taxi. You can easily decipher whether both the driver and conductor are both employees of the taxi owner just by listening to how they talk to each other – the authority with which one party talks to the other shows it all. Well, that kind of primitive pride is a rarity with our Asian brothers and sisters.
Their lifestyles are instrumental in their success. They have a deep sense of humility. How would you expect an employee to work for you wholeheartedly when you proud and under look them 24 hours?
How do you expect to grow your business when you are constantly spending the very profit you would have used to expand? We are quite a show off. Even someone who was hustling hard by doing “Kyeyo” gigs like washing toilets in foreign countries will come around wanting to be noticed as a rich man. They splash money like hell, and in a few months they are back to square one rather than investing the money in a profitable venture. Do you still wonder why they are comparatively more successful?
It’s these little factors that afford them the competitive advantage to thrive in business where several businesses can’t even celebrate their first birthday.
It’s not about having academic qualifications such as MBAs. Not that they are any special. Anyone can follow their ways and achieve outstanding business success.