My education was not a smooth ride because I had to do casual jobs to survive and pay my fees.
In 1997, while in S5, I worked to raise my fees and pocket money. I first bought old newspapers, sold them to chapatti vendors in Makindye to be able to raise transport to school. I am the 11th child of the 12 children bornin my family.
After my A’level, I worked twice as a shop attendant in two Boutiques, where I earned sh2,000 daily. One day, just before Christmas, I had saved up sh50,000 which I took and bought a pair of duplicate Chinese shoes on William Street in Kampala.
Unknown to me, my boss had bought similar shoes in Dubai for $200 (sh600,000). His wife was not amused so she called him and told him I had bought the same pair of shoes as his.
Their fear was that I must have been stealing money from their business, so I lost my job. I took up another job from my boss’s friend’s shop which I lost barely after 4 months as it turned out, that was a blessing in disguise.
In 2001, with my savings of sh100,000 and an additional $100 (sh350,000 today), which I borrowed from my brother Sam, I rented space for sh200,000 in City Centre Complex, bought five shirts and opened up a small corner stall in a sub-rented shop where I am until today. I had a friend that was giving me shirts on credit for five months, which I could sell get some profit and pay back his money.
After eight months, the business picked up and within 13 months, I had saved up to sh5m.
In February 2002, I flew to Dubai and purchased 90 designer shirts at sh25,000 each, that were rare on our market.
I sold each shirt at over sh100,000 within 45 days and made a profit of sh6.5m. The experience motivated me to make more business trips to Dubai and my business profile grew.
When the trend of good quality, designs shifted to Turkey, I went there too. Because Turkey did not have an embassy in Uganda, that venture was not easy in the beginning. You had to travel to Nairobi to apply for a visa and then wait for a reply, which took about six months. I have since made many more trips to Turkey.
Bravo Shoes Brand
Since clothes go hand in hand with shoes, I decided to invest in them too, but this time focusing on children. I developed interest in this area when, during one of my trips abroad, I visited one the best designers of shoes in Istanbul Turkey and developed interest in shoes. I got back here,did all the legal process of having to register for a trademark and Logo.
In 2006, I got a bank loan of sh10m and started the process of branding my shoes. My first batch of 500 pairs was made with the help of a shoemaker in Istanbul, Turkey.
I attempted to buy a shoemaking machine in 2009 at a cost of sh7.2m, but the tax required to clear the consignment was almost equal to the purchase price, which I could not afford. I eventually abandoned the machine.
In 2004, I decided to go back to school. I enrolled at Nakawa Business School to study a Bachelor’s in Business Administration. I would leave a shop attendant in charge while I studied. One day, a week into the course, one of my clients called to complain that my shop was closed. I had to leave the lecture mid-way and run to attend to my business. I never returned to class.
i. Am proud to be among one of the few Ugandans that own most respected shoe Brand in the country.
ii. Have created employment opportunities for my fellow Ugandans.
iii. Having persistently and consistently stayed focused on my job for 17 years without being swayed by external and internal criticism.
iv. Realizing my mission of solving the problems of quality school shoes.
v. The brand has seen me to many places including media, high profile personalities and has earned me respect in society.
vi. I have been invited to different places/institutions of learning to give motivational and inspirational talks/ advice to the young generation.
I am working on partnering with leading leather companies in Pakistan and India, produce the best leather shoes for school going children across the region.
Within the next two years, I want to become the leading provider of quality shoes for children, for which we are in the process of doing production in the country on large scale.
I also want to deal with people who are interested in franchises and increase sales of my products directly in schools. Big brands started small, who knows where Bravo Shoes will be tomorrow.
• High cost of materials due to the ever changing dollar exchange rate.
• Unreliable labor forces as most of our Ugandans are lazy and few are trustworthy.
• The ever increasing rental fees.
• Increasing taxes
• Unstable economy due to instability in our neighboring countries which has affected our business
Derive inspiration from those who have made it. I read books from leading African entrepreneurs like Sir Gordon Wavamunno and I have become determined to take my business to another level.
Keep your books of accounts up-to-date so as to know how your business is faring.
Be creative and strive to add value to your products so as to remain relevant in business.
Work hard to accumulate wealth.
In business, avoid anger and greed. Have the passion and love for what you are doing. Remember, you reap what you sow.
If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, you should concentrate on one business at a time. Only start another after you have succeeded at one.
Be honest in your dealings with customers, suppliers and yourself.
Be professional and hire professionals like Accountants and Auditors that will develop your Business.
Have the best sought out customer care and respect each customer. This will give you the best mileage in your business.