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COMMENT: The Primate Lodge story

COMMENT | By Amos Wekesa |  Towards the end of 2005, Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) called for expression of interest in running two rooms that existed in Kibale National Park and I thought since there was no indigenious Ugandans seriously running an accommodation inside a national park, I would give it a try.

I contacted Joseph Muyeti to write a winning proposal as Damian Akakwasa had told me, its not fair that there was no indeginous Ugandan concessioner during their meetings. He thought it was a good idea some Ugandans give it a try.

Anyway, Muyeti wrote a very beautiful proposal which gave us 72% on the technical requirements and therefore, two of us qualified for the financial part of thie bid.

It was about 3rd January 2006 when they opened financial bids infront of all of us and  I remember I was in a dirty jeans because I had been in the field. On reading the figures we had won by just 2 dollars but what I realised was that both sides were so disappointed that Great Lakes had won.

I was shocked that Ugandans in the room were disappointed that I beat someone who was not Ugandan.

I knew I was up for a battle and I told myself that battle must be won. I had bitter exchange with the guys for 1 yr. On 12th December 2006, they gave to us but in my face told me, I couldnt manage and that I was going to fail ( i will mention names in my book). A gentleman called James Bahinguza joined me in the fight and that helped.

Anyhow, we did our impact assesment by April 2007 and engaged the little resource in the building and by August 2007, we were hosting our first clients in a tented camp. Of course people couldnt stop assuring me about it that I wouldnt take long. I knew it was a lonely long walk to freedom.

Anyway, the rats couldnt spare our tents, the forest wasnt just the right place for tents but we had no resources and we had other competing needs. We started to make sure, our financial reserves grew as some people thought, they wont manage.

Eight years down the road, we had saved up enough money to redo the lodge which is the work you see now.

We also made very many mistakes and through those, we have learnt how things don’t work – thankfully.

Of course, we made sure we are prompt with our payments partly because thats how we operate but we also know being Ugandans, we are a target. Any default, someone would rejoice.

Anyway, when we started rebuilding, we were updating our potential clients and we gave ourselves deadline and promised to do a good job. It wasnt until we did the cottages that people believed (we got prove to others sometimes when it matters).

While at Primate Lodge last week Isaiah Rembo looked at me and said, Amos if there is one thing I have learnt from you is never fear to start anything. He said, I one time visited and thought I wish it was better.

We have been updating people around the world as we progress and thats the reason, business eventually started well after the major works.

You might be out there walking a tough path and wanting to give up and yet deep in you, you know its the right thing. Pursue it because what comes easy does not last. There is’nt a testmony without a test.

Business is never a walkover but it is possible – with Gods help.

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One comment

  1. I really like your attitude Amos and looking forward to meet you one day and guide me as i fights to tobe a local investor however asmall i am. You motivate me Amos

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