A friend of mine recently-if January is recent- quit her job and joined another company that doubled her salo and transferred her to Kenya. She said the former business was a one-man show, with the majority shareholder making decisions alone, most of the time. She didn’t feel fully utilised, and felt that her opinion never mattered. It made me think of how many businesses are so dependent on individuals that they are almost sure of collapsing or having near-death experiences when that individual is absent. Here are a few more examples. I won’t name most names;
• The Forex Bureau opposite KCB Kampala road; it has probably the best rates in town. Even the first M-Pesa guy in Uganda goes there-we call him Mapesa. I like using it because it’s right opposite KCB, so if I need Ksh, I’ll buy go to KCB, withdraw UGX , cross the road, buy Ksh and deposit in my (or my mum’s or my brother’s) account. Of course I could just buy at KCB, but their rates are not customer friendly. So one Sato about a month ago, I went to the FX Bureau, and was surprised to find the closed before 2pm. I asked the askari what was going on and he said they were closed because mzeyi (mzee) was sick. This came as a surprise because besides three or so other employees, there’s this guy I always thought to be mzeyi’s son and imagined he would run the show.
• The fuel station next to City Oil on Bombo road. I have another friend who is in the fuel industry. Any time you want to give him directions or get directions from him, the easiest landmark for him is the fuel station in that area. So you are telling him to take turns and he’ll be like “which is the nearest fuel station”. Guess you have to know who your competitors are. So one day we are going to Luweero, or somewhere in that direction, and he mentions that City Oil on Bombo is probably the busiest station in K’la. Right next to it they have Java’s, the coffee shop which gave birth to Cafe Java’s at Oasis Mall where Nakumatt is located. I admire these guys; I think they started with City Tyres, went on to City Oil, then Java’s and then Cafe Java’s. Now, right next to City Oil is probably the deadest fuel station in Kampala. Reportedly, it was there first. Juzi while on Bombo road with another friend, I mentioned how unbusy it was-even their restaurant is no longer operational, I think. My friend said (he had heard) that the business owner suffered a stroke, and the business never recovered.
• A Kenyan construction contracting company gone regional. The Man used to work for them in Kigali, but now, you wouldn’t convince him to work for a one-man-show business again. I’ll keep this short.
• Talking of Kigali; I think Rwanda is a one-man show country. But the guy has a strong PR team, at least internationally. I used to think that if African countries were corporations, Rwanda would have the best CEO. Not so much now. In other countries, when a guy is president for 23 years (16 so far, the presidential term is 7 years and he will win), he is called a dictator. They have what the world calls a benevolent dictator. Maybe, just what they need? Na akienda, je?
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