The growth of Uganda’s economy coupled with the new technology trends and good government policies have presented new opportunities and ease of doing business, especially for local investors seeking to create small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).
Lately, the Uganda Investment Authority has been moving to simplify the process of registration of businesses by digitizing the process. They believe this will reduce the bureaucracy of acquiring licenses and paying taxes since all the entities involved in business establishment will be housed in a one-stop centre.
With a background in welding, Frank Kyazze decided to invest in a metallic workshop in Kiwatule, Kampala. Since starting the business five months ago, Kyazze has been producing doors, windows, beds, gates, and other metal products.
“We started with few machines. We bought this place, which was already a workshop, at Shs 4m. I had Shs 1m as capital at the start,” Kyazze recalls.
Access to electricity is essential for any manufacturing industry. Lucky for Kyazze, electricity has been steady and reliable, which enables him run his business
“Business is going well,” says Kyazze, with a look of satisfaction as he looks at his workshop. “At times there is some time without new orders. Our work requires connections with the right people especially engineers to link us to customers opportunities,” he adds.
Sylvester Kalanzi Isaac, 24, started his timber workshop, also in Kiwatule, 4 years ago. “We grew up knowing timber was our source of income as a family, so I chose to invest in the business as well,” he explains. Kalanzi bought an already existing workshop and the machine at Shs 7m. He gets timber from as far as Kabale and DR Congo, which can be expensive, but he makes a profit from it.
Like Kyazze’s metallic workshop, processing timber requires electricity. Kalanzi says the power supply is reliable. He uses the industrial scale, says it’s affordable.
“On a daily basis I make profits of Shs 60,000, and on a day when business is good, I make an extra Shs 50,000 to make it Shs 110,000. I’m confident about my choice of investment because I have since recovered my initial investment,” says Kalanzi, who sees lots of investment opportunities in Uganda, especially in agriculture and tree planting.
“Earning less in your own business is better than being employed by someone. The problem with Ugandans is focusing on being exactly what the millionaires are instead of utilizing the small opportunities that exist,” he explains.
Borrowing a concept from the agriculture sector, Kalanzi explains how it’s possible for a farmer with a small piece of land to earn as much as one with a bigger portion, especially by seeking advice on better yields.
“The other opportunity is in tree planting, especially Eucalyptus. People continue to ignore swamps, yet they can plant trees from which they will begin to earn in three to four years. So, even as you wait for the trees to mature in 10 years, you are already earning from them,” he says.
He also explains that land is still readily available at affordable prices within areas near urban centers like Kampala.
“One can acquire an acre of land at Shs 1 million in the outskirts of Kampala. If this land is utilized to plant trees then one can be sure to get a market because very many people are constructing rental houses to get income,” he says.
Uganda’s ease of doing business and reliable electricity are creating a conducive business environment so that people with a strong entrepreneurial spirit can push ahead with their dreams, create a business and become one of Uganda’s many success stories.