How I made my first million

By Vision Reporter

The term millionaire easily rolls off our tongues. But how many of us know what it takes to make a millionaire? <b>Ssebidde Kiryowa</b> talked to Kampala’s notable success stories about how they made their first million.

The term millionaire easily rolls off our tongues. But how many of us know what it takes to make a millionaire? Ssebidde Kiryowa talked to Kampala’s notable success stories about how they made their first million.

Isaac Mulindwa, chairman PAM Awards, director One 2 Net When I was still a student at university in Richmond, United Kingdom, I used pocket money from my father to buy a car, a Morris Minor. It cost me about 3000 pounds. I sprayed it, changed its wheels and made other modifications. I sold it for thrice the money I had bought it. That is definitely a lot more than just a million even today. I have worked abroad most of my life. I used to send money over here to be invested in businesses.

Bonny Katatumba, chairman Katatumba Suites, Hotel Diplomat Sources say he apparently started out washing lecturers’ cars while still a student at Makerere University in the late 1970s. He also opened a Dobbi service for students’ clothes on campus. He reportedly owned a car by the time he left Makerere University in 1972. Katatumba says, “I recall setting up a construction firm two years after university. The company was called DCM Design, Construction and Materials. I won a big contract to repair a hospital in Masaka. I got a contract to construct Kabale Teacher Training College. I don’t remember exactly what I made off that, but it was probably about sh50m. This was a lot of money. It was worth over $7m then. I put a lot of it into developing other businesses.

Sudhir Ruperlia, property magnate, banker and hotelier. I have made my money is through hard work. I work 16 hours a day. The first million I made in Uganda was from buying and selling beer in 1987 and the times were hard. There was no beer manufactured in Uganda at the time and we had to import it from Kenya. During those days, people used to close up shop at 3:00pm. We had to stretch it out to 7:00pm. I invested the money back into the beer business. My philosophy is to invest 90% of what I get back into business and I enjoy the 10% with my family.

Dr. Martin Aliker, president Heritage Oil & Gas (Uganda), chairman, Standard Chattered Bank, Uganda Breweries, Monitor Publications and 12 other companies I went into private practice as a dental surgeon in the 1960s. I worked from 7:00am to 7:00pm for six days a week. In my first year of practice, I made 45,000 pounds. I invested that income in property which I still have to date.

Robert Ahimbisibwe, CEO Select Garments As a clearing agent in 1993, I cleared a huge consignment at Entebbe Airport. It took me two days to clear, after which I discovered I had made a difference of sh1.2m. This was through a company I had set up for myself called Select Lines Limited and I had never seen a million shillings before. I went to my home village in Bushenyi and starting on construction of a house for my dad.

Gordon Wavammuno, chairman Wava Group of Companies It is well documented. I wrote a book, The Story of An African Entrepreneur in which I explained how I made my money. However, I started out in the taxi business. I bought a couple of taxis and that is how I got my big break. For more, go read my book.

David Katumwa, proprietor Katumwa Sports Centre
In 1992, I was trading in second hand shoes in Owino Market. Whenever I opened a bale of shoes, I would find at least one pair of soccer boots. Some of them were in good shape while others were in tatters. Whenever I chanced on a pair of boots that was intact, I took it home and put it under my bed. At that time, I was a bachelor and stayed in a muzigo in Makerere, Kikoni. By the end of the year, I had collected over 50 pairs. That is enough to dress up a couple of soccer teams. I then set out selling them to different school teams. Altogether, I made sh1.2m. That was a fortune. I rushed and made a down payment on a plot of land in Makindye. It cost sh1.3m. I later put up rooms for rent, which I have since razed and replaced with a tiled bungalow for rent.

Sikander Lalani, chairman/MD Roofings Limited I was in Rwanda in 1978. I was selling electronics and was the agent for Knaon Electronics, Bridgestone Tires and White Line Products. Japanese friends from Bridgestone Tires told me there was no galvanizing/roofing industry in Rwanda and advised me to join the industry. However, I didn’t have any money and the project required about $2m. I contacted the Rwandese Bank of Development, which allowed to fund the machinery, but not the building. We sold off all the electronics to start work. Tolirwa Factory came up in industrial park, Kikondo, Kigali. It was a struggle, but three years down the road, we took off. That is when I started ripping profits.

Joviah Saleh, real estate magnate, MD Ema Properties I got my first million from selling mivumba (second-hand clothes). I went to an Indian and asked him to do business with me on credit. He would give me bales of second-hand clothes, which I would sell, make a profit and pay him afterwards. When I made my first million, I ploughed the money back into the business. Instead of getting loans, I would get bales on credit. I did that until I accumulated enough capital to get a loan from a bank.

Elvis Sekyanzi, director Club Silk, WBS TV, Radio Simba I’m a sound engineer. When I returned from the UK after my studies, I started by repairing faulty radios and other such equipment. I later acquired musical instruments and started playing at parties and other functions from which I earned my first million.

Ketan Morjania, chairman, Orient bank Limited My wealth grew out of consistent hardwork. I qualified as a certified accountant in the UK before I came to Uganda in 1983. My opportunities for making and succeeding in business grew bigger because of that. With time, I invested my earnings in business. When I came to Uganda, I started by dealing in various commodities as a wholesaler. With time, I got into other areas of business.

Umar Mandela, chairman City Tyres, Mandela Auto Spares, Gapco Petrol stations in Uganda I’m not yet successful. When I’m finally successful, I will let you know. Okay?

Riyaz Kurji, Fish exporter, proprietor Alpha Diaries In 1992, I was in the Sese Islands trying to organise fish supplies for a factory in Kampala. My partner and I slept in a tent on the island. Those were really hard times. We were trying to develop a fishing community on each of the islands in Sese that would sustain the fish factory. Slowly, the fishing communities picked up and the supplies started improving. That is when I made my first million. I used the money to buy more fishing nets, which I gave back to the community.

Tom Mugenga, clearing & forwarding magnate It was in the late 1970s or early 1980s. I was a clearing agent at Mombasa Port. The money accumulated over time. I bought my car with it. I was so excited I drove it all the way from Mombasa to Kampala then to my father’s place in Kisoro.

Patrick Quarcoo, CEO, QC Saatchi & Saatchi; joint MD Capital FM It was around 1980. As a journalist, I was reporting for a number of international media organizations including BBC World Service. There was a month in which I made over $500. That month, I had about 10 stories on BBC World Service radio and two international articles published in UK newspapers. I bought a state-of-the-art Sony recorder, treated myself to a good meal in a good restaurant and kept the rest of the money.

Sam Engola, Lira businessman I was an O’level student in Lira Town College in 1973 when I started doing business. I would leave Lira on Friday evening and reach Kampala at 4:00am on Saturday morning. I would then go to Kikuubo and Owino markets to shop for merchandise. In the evening, I would leave Kampala at 6:00pm and arrive in Lira at midnight. I would then sell my stock to suppliers on Sunday. That is how I made my first million. From that money, I bought a motorcycle in 1974.

How I made my first million