As we get set to celebrate Women’s Day on March 8, we take a look at some of the richest women entrepreneurs in Uganda.
SUNDAY VISION - Women in Uganda have made great strides over the years and have transformed from being stay-at-home moms to top managers. They have also ventured into the private sector, an area formerly dominated by men, and are doing well, writes Maureen Nakatudde.
Businesses run and owned by women have steadily been on the rise. Women entrepreneurs have boosted the economy through paying taxes and creating employment opportunities for hundreds of Ugandans, in addition to looking after their families. As we celebrate Women’s Day on March 8, we take a look at some of the richest women entrepreneurs in Uganda.
Having been taught by her mother to process fruits, Adyeri did not know that the skills she had acquired would turn her into a billionaire. She is the proprietor of Delight Uganda, manufacturers of soft drinks and water. Adyeri is also the chairperson of Bunyoro Grain Farmers Association, and Till and Feed the Nation, which comprises more than 100 women members.
She has also embarked on large scale farming in Singe, Wakiso and Tororo districts.
She owns a food processing company called Global Food Securities, where she packs flour and maize porridge for both the local market and export. She also makes feeds under the Mummy Choice brand. In 2008, Adyeri was among the six women in Africa to be honoured for their entrepreneurship skills by the World Bank.
Her farm A has 40,000 brown layers and Farm B has 20,000 cocks. The farms churn out approximately 550 eggs per day. She has a certificate in food science.
As the chief executive officer of K Roma Limited, Ukkonika’s wine and juice products bring in millions of money annually.
She is wife to Uganda’s business mogul, Sudhir Ruparelia, and is also the director Ruparelia Group, which boasts of Crane Bank, Kabira Country Club and Kabira International School, among others. The businesses are valued in millions of dollars. She also closely manages Meera Investments, under which the Ruparelias own a chain of prime property in the country.
She is the proprietor of Lady Charlotte, a modern salon and bridal shop that caters for today’s affluent women. She also owns Nalongo Estates, which last year was entangled in a land row with KCCA over the Centenary Park land.
Judy Rugasira Kyanda
Rugasira is the managing director of Knight Frank Uganda, a property consultancy, real estate and management company. She is doing well in a business still dominated by men. She has a lot experience in real estate, which she acquire from the UK. Under this company, Rugasira handles Rwenzori Courts, Rwenzori Towers, Workers House and Crested Towers, among others. These buildings house most of Uganda’s lucrative and prestigious business enterprises and government offices.
She is the director of Taibah Schools that are strewn all over Kampala. Having worked as a secondary school teacher at Makerere College for two years (1987-1988) and at St. Joseph’s Secondary School Nsambya (1988-1990), Luyombo made no mistake in investing in schools because she knew what was lacking.
With her experience and education credentials (a bachelors and masters in education from Makerere University), Luyombo built on that and opened one of the first international schools in Uganda. She has since opened up schools such as Silver Spoon Day Care Centre, Taibah High School, Taibah Junior School and Taibah College School.
Luyombo is also the executive director of Uganda Women Entrepreneurs Association (UWEAL), which renders business skills, training and counselling services to women entrepreneurs.
In 1995, Luyombo’s enterprising work won her the first National Enterprise Award for Young Women Entrepreneurs by New Vision and Rotary Club. She also received Namagunga Old Girls’ Association (NOGA) Award of Recognition of Achievement in 1998. And in 2001, she scooped a certificate of recognition for championing educational change in Uganda from Uganda Investment Authority. She is married with three children.
You have probably come across a Nina Interiors branch around Kampala or in Rwanda. Nina Karugaba is the proud owner of that franchise. The store is a one-stop centre for domestic, hotel and office furniture. With 19 years' experience in the bag, Karugaba has managed to amass properties in Kampala and Kabale.
Hersi was not born in Uganda, but she has tapped opportunities to become one of the most successful women in the land. She was encouraged to relocate to Uganda by her mother, Sarah Hersi Ali, and as they say, the rest is history. While here, she tapped into her entrepreneurship potential and opened up a number of businesses.
She owns Kingstone Enterprises, one the biggest providers of construction materials in Uganda and Oasis Mall, which is a big shopping centre in Kampala. She also owns several apartments in Kampala. Her enterprising work was recognised in 2008, when she was awarded the Woman Investor of the Year award.
Despite being the mother to one of the richest people in Uganda, Charles Mbire, Tereza Mbire has built her own empire. She is the founder of Uganda Women Finance Institution, a microfinance for women. She is also the founder of Uganda Women Entrepreneurs Association (UWEAL). Mbire owns Kampala Florists, Home Pride Bakery and Pop in Industries, which specialises in making clothes.
Currently the finance minister, Maria Kiwanuka has been in the business world for quite some time. She is the managing director of Radio One, which is considered to be the most profitable radio station in Uganda. She also owns Akabozi ku Biri, a local FM radio station and Maria’s Galleria, a shopping arcade in the city centre. Kiwanuka is an MBA graduate from the London School of Economics.
Kiwanuka has previously worked with the World Bank as an economist and financial analyst (in the 1980s). She has also served as a non-executive director on the board of directors of Aga Khan Foundation (East Africa), The Nabagereka Development Trust, Nkumba University, Uganda Development Bank and Stanbic Bank Uganda. She is married to Mohan Kiwanuka, the managing director of Oscar Industries.
She is a true example of how one can succeed if they do what they love. Watson had the passion to let every Ugandan child know about their bodies, sexual matters and HIV /AIDS and she has fulfilled it. She started on small scale in a tiny office in Bukoto, and now Straight Talk has grown into a big brand. She has since added on Tree Talk and Farm Talk.
Sylvia Namutebi, who is popularly known as Maama Fina, is well known as a traditional healer, but she is more than just that. She came to Kampala as a maid and later hawked katogo in Katwe and polythene bags in Kampala. However, Maama Fina is now a successful businesswoman.
She owns secondary schools in Mityana and Mukono. She has several buildings in and around Kampala. She also owns Maama Fina Garment shops and Banamasaka shop on Mini Price that deals mainly in ladies’ wear such as gomesis.
As the executive director of Wavamunno Group of Companies, Morine’s pay is not that of an ordinary woman, which puts her among the wealthiest women in Uganda. The companies under her tutelage include Wavah Water, WBS TV and Spear Motors, whose turnover is valued in billions of shillings.
Sarah Nabukalu Kiyimba
She is the owner of Hotel Brovad, one of the best hotels in Masaka. The hotel has 120 rooms and conference facilities. She is also the owner of the building that houses DFCU Bank in Masaka. After the death of her husband, Suleiman Kiyimba, Nabukalu felt the world was crumbling on her.
She was a stay-at-home mom and had not gone far with her education. But she had to get out of self-pity when her husband’s debtors came knocking on the door. Her husband left a loan of sh172m in UCB, sh50m debt for one Karamaga and sh2mfor Uganda Electricity Board.
Besides that, she had six children to look after. But with no experience in business at all, she was able to service and clear all her husband’s loans and look after the family, in addition to completing Hotel Brovad and taking on other business ventures.
Dr. Sarah Muwonge Nkonge
Nkonge stepped into Hajji Nasser Ssebaggala’s shoes as Kampala Mayor after Sebaggala was charged with fraud in the US, there by becoming the first woman mayor.
She currently owns six secondary schools in Uganda which include Jinja Modern Secondary School, St. Francis College Buloba, Kampala Secondary School and Mabirizi Secondary School. She is also a member of Kwagalana Group, an association for business people in Kampala.
Dr. Margaret [Maggie] Kigozi
The former executive director of the Uganda Investment Authority is a Ugandan medical doctor by profession, but is keen in business. She is a business consultant and chancellor of Nkumba University.
She is a consultant at United Nations Industrial Development Organisation(UNIDO) and the family has shares in Crown Beverages. The late Eng. Dan Kigozi was one of the founding directors and Maggie is now a member board of directors of the company.
As head of the Uganda Revenue Authority, Kagina’s big salary is enough for her to make it on the list of the wealthy women.
Uganda''s richest women