By Patrick Kagenda
What is your day like?
I am a religious man, I wake up at 5 am in the morning, have a short prayer; go to the gym, and by 6:30 am, tea is ready on my breakfast table. I personally arrange for my kids to take them to school by 7:15 am. After I visit my sites and other pending issues and by 8:00 am, I am in my office. I rarely take lunch though I always have a snack in between. We close off the business day at around 7 p.m. I go for short prayers till 7:30 pm. Sometimes I visit friends and recreate for a while. Then by 8 pm, I am at home and at 10 pm I am in bed. I have been doing this since 1997 when there was a boom in rehabilitation works in the whole country.
That is when we realised that the construction industry will grow bigger. The line I towed goes hand in hand with construction so we thought that if we venture into that business, we can make it and that is what we have done.
What challenges do you face?
|Ssebagala’s tips to successful business management?
Success is 99% inspiration and 1% perspiration. Other issues also follow but once you are inspired you will perspire to get what you want. However you need honesty and standing by your word.
As managing director of Ssebagala and Sons Group of Companies, I always have a challenge in management. As you might know, managing society is not easy. Managing human beings at times leads to failing to agree on certain issues but at the end of the day, you work as a team and resolve your differences. Challenges cannot be measured because they come and go. However, the real challenge I have is spotting a good worker who can work as a team; someone who can fit into my group and bring in results. The other challenge is that as I speak now, the dollar rate is another bigger challenge to us who import goods. It has gone up by almost 30% in the last 4-5 months and the increment in the price we are selling at does not match the dollar increment. We are making a dollar loss in these businesses that are import-based. There is no way we can bridge the gap and at the same time, we cannot say that we will not import. At the moment the business environment is not conducive especially with the dollar that is not stable. What we have done to mitigate the situation is to have more sales turnover instead of getting 5% we keep getting 2% though this also has its own implications. We are looking at government to salvage the situation.
How do you resolve these challenges?
Sometimes you just look at someone and you interview him or her and just say he/she can measure up to the task. And at times, as you go on you find that someone can fit in. Basically, you cannot know until you have really tried out someone. Regarding the dollar exchange rate, that is for government to fix. I hope it will not be a persistent problem.
What is your opinion of Ugandan workers?
There is a general tendency that Ugandan employees are lazy. But I think that is not true if you go into the depth of it. Provided you give them what to do, how to do it and you spell out the terms, they will produce very good results. As for me, I do not complain. I am getting on well with them.
Medi Ssebagala is the proprietor of Ssebagala and Sons Group of Companies dealing in real estate development and electronics dealership in Kampala City. He believes in 99% inspiration and 1% perspiration.