By Michael Kanaabi
At the recent launch of the book Inspired By Bitature at Protea Kampala hotel, Kampala, successful entrepreneurs shared their wisdom on how to build multi-billion shilling businesses. Kenyan lady entrepreneur Esther Muchemi noted that building a great business, especially if you are moving from formal employment like her, means going back to ground level.
“I was called a shopkeeper and people thought I was finished when I opened my first phone shop in downtown Nairobi, but it was my vision that kept me going,” she said. Almost 20 years down the road, Muchemi credits her faith in God, entrepreneurship spirit, hardwork, integrity, consistency, focus and honesty for having helped her grow Samchi Telecom into the largest safaricom dealership in Kenya. The same traits have also enabled her diversify into real estate, hospitality, micro finance among other businesses.
About managing people, Esther Muchemi advises that you first learn to manage yourself then appreciate the flaws in others and the fact they too can improve given chance. Muchemi advises entrepreneurs never to get into as business that cannot be scaled.
“Starting small is okay, but if a business cannot be scaled then it is not a good one,” she said. Academic and businessman Prof. Peter Kasenene advocated for mind reprograming as the way to success. He said: “Your journey up will only begin when you start to question things, after which you change your mindset, then it changes your reality later.”
It involves changing one’s attitude from what we were told that money is a means of exchange to looking at money as a seed for wealth creation, Kasenene advised. And beyond wealth and personal success, Kasenene urged people to consider what they contribute to society as this will define their legacy when they are gone. Edward Kazire, the founder Kazire Health Products, emphasised the need to find solutions to the challenges in your immediate environment first.
It was the hustle of surviving in Kampala that showed Kazire this tough reality. Consequently, he headed back home to start afresh. The eucalyptus trees at home became his new beginning as he decided to harvest oils from them, distill and purify it using his chemistry knowledge, add honey and have a cough syrup. He also vended his products in the village market as he built his way up.
Patrick Bitature, who the book was written about, said everyone deserves to live a dignified life and work should accord us that. This entails having some money to afford the basics such as food, shelter and an education. Inspired to build an empire of his own by the legacy of his late father Paul Bitature, a successful businessman murdered during President Amin’s tenure, he has never looked back.
The desire to restore the dignity they lost as a family after his father’s death was the driving factor for his success. Bitature said every challenge presents an opportunity one can take up and become successful. Family and friends do play a big part in one’s success and Bitature calls them the roots of any successful empire. Understanding the language of money and banks is key.
“Banks hire some of the smartest graduates. They understand how money works, so to get money from them, you make them your partners and understand the system,” Bitature said. As an entrepreneur, it is also important to diversify your portfolio so that you have various streams of income, especially in uncertain economic times like these.
Bitature urged all those seeking success in business or career to be patient, get that degree and skill or invest in that business, adding that the three to five years wait for lifetime returns is worthwhile. Inspired By Bitature grew out of a 13-year mentorship Patrick Bitature and his mentee Robert Bake Tumuhaise, the book’s author shared.
Tumuhaise noted that the biggest lesson he has learnt is not to ask wealthy friends for money, but pick what has made them and apply it too. He encouraged young entrepreneurs not to fear approaching those who are successful.
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