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Common Market opens business opportunities and challenges

By Patrick Kagenda

Stephen Mwanje is the Managing Director of BM Forex Bureau and chairman of the Uganda Forex Bureau and Money Remittence Association (UFBA) The Independent’s Patrick Kagenda spoke to him

When do you start your day?

I normally wake up at 4.45am. I stay in Mukono and I have a daughter and son that I drop at Greenhill Academy. So if am to get to beat the jam and get to office by 7.00am, I must leave home by 6.00 am.

What challenges are you facing?

The challenge I am facing is that of balancing family and work. I have taken on a lot of responsibilities, and yet I still have a young family to take care of.

In addition to my several business interests, I also serve my church in various capacities, and am serving on several boards of schools.

I am also the Chairman of Uganda Forex Bureau and Money Remittance Association, and the Chairman of the Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC) for Centenary Bank.

But my biggest challenge is that for 2010-2011.I am the District Governor for Rotary District 9200, which covers Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

I must physically visit the over 150 clubs that exist in these countries in the course of the year, plus attending any special occasions that may be organised (and they are several). I have to do all this in six days of the week because Sundays are for my family and my mother whom I must visit whenever I am around.

How are you resolving these challenges?

I have no concrete plan I can say I am using to resolve these challenges. However I am prioritising and delegating wherever possible.

What impact will the EAC common market have on the Forex Bureau business?

The most obvious impact is that of opening up markets and therefore making it easy for us to open branches in the member countries. But this also has challenges, in that we must be prepared to face very stiff competition.

What advantages does the EAC Common Market bring to service providers like you?

The common market, I hope, will bring a wider market for our products and services.The free flow of labour will also avail us skills that were hitherto scarce in our own individual countries.

What is the future of forex business in the EAC Common Market?

The future for this business is very bright only that those that fail to style up will be forced to close.

The competition will improve efficiency, which is good for customers. During the transition, there shall be need for review of our laws that govern the Foreign Exchange Operations (Financial Institutions Statute) with the aim of synchronising them with those of the other member countries.

What new innovations are coming up at BM Forex Bureau?

Those are our secrets for now which we can’t tell everyone. But certainly we have new innovations up.

What is your style to successful managementand who are your mentors?

I personally believe in systems and control and this has a lot to do with my background in banking, especially in audit where I spent a while.

Unfortunately I don’t have a particular mentor, because I have been mentored by several people in the different trades.

But one gentleman that really made an impact on my life is Professor Munene of Makerere University, who was my supervisor for my MBA dissertation. He taught me how to use my brain a little better and that totally changed my life.


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