Monthly Archives: March 2016

#Anonymous to Hack #Uganda

160115192610-anonymous-2-540x304

Anonymous hacktivists Image courtesy of CNN

We are Anonymous,

We are Legion,

We do not Forgive,

We do not Forget.

That is the introduction to the press release by Anonymous, the globally acclaimed Hacktivist group that pursues anyone and everyone they deem as being unfair to society. In a February 17th 2016 press release published on the Anonymous Video Network, they state;

“Operation Africa is an ongoing operation by several activists within Anonymous who have begun cooperating. The focus of the operation is the disassembly of corporations and governments that enable and perpetuate corruption on the African continent. This consists of organisations responsible for child abuse labour as well as internet censorship within the continent and globally. We are fighting alongside other operations such as OP Nigeria as well as Anonymous SA to help free the continent from exploitation as well as the plague of exploitation that has been occurring for centuries…. No Longer will we stand by and watch these blatant abuses of power occur. We will continue to fight for their liberties until all our brothers on the continent are freed from the shackles of corruption and greed.

We will not sleep

We will stop at nothing

We are Anonymous

They should have expected us”

A follow up of this threat on the Anonymous Website reveals that Uganda is one of the countries they are initially targeting. The concerns these hactivists have regarding Internet Censorship and Corruption hit the Bull’s Eye when it comes to my country.

In the run up to the elections of February 18th 2016, I was taken back when I saw the display of military hardware that the Government had just imported and the subsequent chest thumping by the security agencies. In this day and age, it is important to know that the threats are changing. It seems like we are speeding past the era of physically confrontational armed rebellions that involve spending days and nights in bushes and spilling blood. Field battles while fighting for a cause are being replaced by online activism.

Why should we be concerned about the threat that Anonymous extends?

Other than defacing some random websites here and there, this group has the ability to inflict serious damage if they put their minds to it. I know the Uganda Police has put up a cyber crime unit but it’s abilities are still wanting due to numerous reasons.

Some of the most hard hitting acts Anonymous could engage in and affect the Government of Uganda could be;

  1. Shutdown of all Government related Websites: The use of the internet to share information by the government is growing astronomically. Through the use of DDoS attacks they can put all targeted sites on their knees. Major corporations like CNN have been victims of this. Government agencies like Uganda Tourism Board that grossly rely on the internet to market the country’s tourism are likely to be badly affected. With numerous internet facing systems deployed by various ministries like Finance, Education, Agriculture, Justice among others, any service shutdown is likely to have a significant impact on operations as well as the general economy.
  2. Access Credentials: By breaking into the online systems and accessing user credentials of various Government officials, a lot can be unearthed about the internal operations and on a brighter side, it could even help the general public uncover the rot that could be going on in some agencies. In February 2016, the group hacked into the servers of the Broadband Systems Corporation a key service provider to the Government of Rwanda. They altered all system passwords and extracted numerous account credentials used by Government agencies to communicate. The exploits were sampled here.
  3. Internet Blackout: Just like they did in Turkey, the group has the capacity to shutdown internet services across the country thereby leading to loss of business for many. The efforts by UCC to limit internet access would pale in comparison to the kind of damage Anonymous can potentially inflict if they take this route. As I write this, the group has promised an April Fool’s day surprise for Donald Trump and believe me, they will deliver even as the FBI watches. Such missions are handled by the elite of the elite Anonymous hackers who are able to completely erase any traceability in the event that the authorities tried to locate them.
  4. Disabling .ug: By focusing efforts on the root servers of the Ugandan Top Level Domain, which controls all sites that end with the suffix .ug, any website with a similar ending gets affected and cant be accessed online. When the Turkey attack was done, over 400,000 sites were offline for a period of Seven (7) days. You cant send or receive email or even have your content on the website accessed due to failure to resolve the DNS. We dont want that to happen. Three days of Facebook Censorship in Uganda were enough to show us how critical and part of life the internet has become to our lives.
  5. Infrastructure Attacks: Anonymous has the ability to target critical banking infrastructure in the country as well as any other service providers like Electricity and Water utilities for as long as they have systems that are interlinked with one or two gateways to the internet. Just imagine if they got into the UMEME network and remotely manipulated the Yaka Software Systems by resetting all customer units to zero or better still provide free power to all customers? They could easily get access to national security installations and siphon out critical information that the Government is heavily dependent upon or even expose key security informants that have for long operated undercover. Access to the Civil Aviation Authority network could easily lead them into our Airport network thereby disorganising flight arrangements and putting flights at risk. After all, they are Anonymous, we should expect them!

I could go on and on about potential exploits by this group. It is therefore a pity that the Government is silent over these threats. Perhaps they have no choice and are just clueless over how to engage this elite group of hactivists, hence having to wait and accept fate like a lamb ready for massacre.

Interestingly though, we don’t seem to be very far from getting our own Ugandan version of hactivists likely to link up with Operation Africa. The Hackers Uganda team did participate in the resistance against the aborted giveaway of Mabira Forest to an investor to grow sugarcanes way back in 2011. They hacked the Uganda Investment Authority website and left a message of defiance.

Over to the Uganda Police and the various security agencies that litter our land, are you ready for this teargas proof approach to civil disobedience?

On twitter @wirejames

Advertisements

Muwema Vs Facebook

For a while now I have been debating over whether to write an article about the current Cyber Security threat the Government of Uganda is facing or the comedy that Counsel Fred Muwema has opted for. It was not until I came across this article giving Facebook 6 days to cooperate in regard to his intent to sue for defamation that I thought I needed to weigh in into this saga. Interestingly, while reading the article, I was entertained further when on the same page I saw an advert by one of Uganda’s leading comedians Pablo advertising his Good Friday Nyama Choma event. To be honest, Muwema’s threats and Pablo’s comedy make a good match.

In Point No. 8 of the letter Counsel Muwema allegedly wrote to Facebook, he states; “To this end I request for the Internet Protocol address of the subject user by the 29th March 2016 to be able to determine the user’s physical location, email, telephone, address and other useful identifier information.”

To take on such a battle with Facebook, Counsel Muwema reminds me of the time I visited the game park and saw a dog barking at an elephant. The elephant just went about it’s business and only occasionally looked through the corner of it’s eye to see what the source of noise was. For the attention the dog wanted, that is the best it could get from the elephant.

So Counsel, who told you that getting the IP address information is a guarantee of identifying the facebook user TVO? I will not blame you for thinking this way but probably my disappointment should be directed to the erstwhile technology advisers you surround yourself with.

For a highly marked Government critic like TVO, it would be foolhardy of one to expect him to use a pedestrian approach when engaging in what he does best. The precautions I expect such a person to take are beyond the ordinary since what he is doing is a matter of life and death and could see him (depending on where he is) either be incarcerated for life or extradited to Uganda to face incarceration.

In the world of VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) and Encryption, TVO has the ability to fool even Facebook about his whereabouts. One can be in Uganda but on accessing a site in the UK, you can utilise Internet protocol addresses from the Ukraine thereby making the UK servers believe and log your origin as the Ukraine.

Besides, what makes you think that TVO is one person? It could as well be a distributed team hence even getting the IP address may not help you uncover them. Advances in technology have made it more difficult to keep up to pace with tracking online users.

Have you heard of FreeNet, the Underground Internet? Off their website, the FreeNet project is essentially an internet within the internet, but with absolutely no censorship. The information hosted on Freenet is encryted and routed through many different nodes, which makes it incredibly difficult to track who is providing and requesting the information on its servers. Thus Freenet accomplishes absolute freedom of speech!

How about the Deep Web and Dark Web? Due to the love for privacy, anonymous browsers like the ToRBrowser are now in vogue lately allowing users to browse the internet surreptitiously and without being easily traced. When you make a request to find a web page, the request to find the intended destination is wrapped in layers of encryption or code – like the skin of an onion. Instead of going direct to the web page your request is bounced randomly across a network relay of computers all across the globe. As your request arrives at a new location a level of encryption is unlocked. All the relay computer sees are instructions to send the request on to the next location.

In real world language; bouncing across different locations makes it near impossible to trace the user. Meaning you become anonymous.

The TVO I have observed is not daft enough to utilise the internet plainly. I therefore want to take you out of your illusion Counsel by advising you to concentrate on matters other than taking on Facebook or hunting for TVO. If it is publicity you wanted, you have already got it.

My 2 Pence.

Follow @wirejames on Twitter.

Additional Research from:

Going Underground: the secret world of the Deep Web

FreeNet: The Underground Internet

 

Business you can start with less than UGX 100,000/= (US$ 30) – Part 3

In the first two parts of this series, we tackled two areas of business i.e. Food and Household targeted businesses that you can start with under UGX 100,000/=. This last part of the series shall deal with all the business opportunities that couldn’t fall under the previous categories.

General

Beyond the Food and Household categories, there are numerous other businesses that one can attempt and still fit within the subject matter. I delve into some of them here;

Salon: Do you know how to plait women’s hair or cut men’s hair? Before you start procrastinating over where you expect to get money to set up a salon, consider moonlighting. You can identify a friend or friend of a friend with a salon that can help you operate from their salon at a fee. By using their equipment, you are expected to pay some form of ‘rental’ off each job that you get. That way , you launch yourself into business, raise money over time and set up your own salon eventually. For the women, you could choose to plait hair from your home or backyard (I’ve seen many do this) and for the men, depending on the market you target, a chair, tree shade, access to electricity and electric shaver are enough to kickstart you. Second hand shavers can be got for UGX 40,000/= and that seems to be the most significant cost.

Mobile Phone Support: Do you know how to make ring tones? Can you install or remove Apps on smart phones? Can you handle basic repair of phones? These and a few other skills are enough to launch you into this business. By simply teaming up with someone who runs a Mobile Phone retail shop, you can set up a symbiotic relationship that enables the phone hardware seller benefit from your support services since customers usually like dealing with providers who can effectively manage after sales services. Investment? Your skills and a few accessories like memory cards and Screw drivers.

Real Estate Brokerage: If you are not new to Kampala, you have most likely seen signposts with words like “BULOKA WE NYUMBA NE PULOTI.” The growing real estate industry has not only increased the demand for land and houses but also offered many an opportunity to act as middlemen. Anyone with the networks to know who is selling and who wants to buy can join this business. Not much investment is required save for some money that you can use to move around and establish the specifics of the houses that you are marketing prior to reaching out to customers.

Hawking: I am going to call him Hadubi (Not real name). He graduated from the university three years ago. After struggling to get a white collar job for a year without success, the young man was given an idea to try out hawking products for some Indian Wholesalers in Mbale town. With no money to talk about, he swallowed humble pie and begun. He would be given products without depositing any money upfront which he would sell then return and pay up for the sold stock as he gets more. This business approach proved so lucrative that even when he raised enough money to set up his own shop, he decided to let his wife run the shop and has continued to hawk. Investment? Trustworthiness.

Motivational Speaking: Speaking to people and encouraging them is something that has begun paying significantly lately in Uganda. If you are the type that can be an encourager, all you need is to invest in audience knowledge as well as keep yourself abreast with the ever changing trends of society and you are good to go. Investment? Personal Experiences and reading a couple of books.

Comedy: Pablo Live, Fun Factory, Kansiime and many others are now filling our entertainment airwaves. But what does it take to become a comedian? Being funny. Simple. If you have been dubbed as a great joker especially in terms of originality, then you are a good candidate for this kind of profession. Hardly any cash investment is required save for pursuing others to give you an opportunity as and when they can.

Counselling: Being able to help others that are challenged in life is a skill not many have. Sometimes you can achieve specific training for it. However, when it comes to looking at it as a business opportunity, the least of your worries should be the money you need to kick off. Even without an office, you can start mobile counselling services and only embark on setting up premises after having tested the waters. You definitely do not need UGX 100,000/= to start.

Graphics Designing: This is an opportunity that those with an artistic mind can easily pursue. A young man who occasionally does for me such work started off by using computers in an Internet Cafe to do clients’ work until he was able to save enough money to buy a laptop. Today he has quite a good number of retainer customers and rakes in handsome revenue monthly.Did he start with UGX 100,000/=? Definitely not. All he needed was enough money to pay for the Internet Cafe time.

I.T Support: Just like Graphics Designing, all you need to start this business is the knowledge. In most cases you are troubleshooting customers’ faulty equipment and in case of replacements, they are ready to buy your recommendation. The key issue here is to get that first customer and offer them a great service. You can start off as a mobile support personnel and only set up offices when the client demand grows.

Office Cleaning: In these lean times, nearly all businesses are boot strapping. Many offices are ready to outsource all non core activities and this is one of those. With all the mushrooming arcades and office blocks in Kampala, it’s not rocket science to figure out a way of getting customers. The beauty about this kind of work is that it is limited to morning hours. You could always back it up with other afternoon jobs elsewhere.

Shoe Repair: A good pal of mine once narrated how he took his shoe to a cobbler for polishing. While he sat there, in a span of one hour, the cobbler had earned UGX 10,000/=. Such a cobbler could very easily end the day with an income of at least UGX 50,000/= on the lower side. If he worked for only Twenty days in a month, he is in position to rake in UGX 1,000,000/= tax free. How much did he invest to start the business? I doubt it was more than UGX 50,000/=.

Research: If you have research skills, don’t sit back and wait for an 8 – 5 job. Get off your laurels, market yourself as a research specialist and start helping organisations conduct researches. Starting off with simple customer surveys, you can graduate to more complex research studies. In most cases, the contracting organisation tends to avail you a down payment to embark on the study. How much do you have to invest in such a business idea? Your time.

Second Hand Clothes and Shoes: I once took a stroll down town and happened to stray into Owino Market. I was shocked to find a young man selling shirts for UGX 3,000/=. YES !!!! I couldn’t believe it. A closer inspection revealed that they were decent enough to be worn at least for a couple of months. How much did that young man need to start business? The same applies to shoes. I have heard of women’s shoes being sold like Telecom Voice Bundles, three pairs going for UGX 10,000/= in the wee hours of the morning with the same shoes later being resold in the rush hour evening time for UGX 5,000/= a pair.

I could go on and on but for now, this is where my story ends. Do you now believe that you can start a business with under UGX 100,000/= ?

Have your say.

James Wire is a Small Business and Technology Consultant based in Kampala, Uganda

Follow @wirejames on Twitter

Other Articles of interest:

Business you can start with less than UGX 100,000/= (US$ 30) – Part 2

In Part 1 of this Article Series we saw how you can start a food business with less than UGX 100,000/= and the story continues. This time we are looking at Household focused businesses.

Household Related Businesses

There are many household targeted businesses that do not require much financial muscle to start yet at the same time have the potential to become serious cash cows. Some of those I have been able to identify are listed here;

Compound Slashing: This one tends to flourish alot during the rainy seasons as a result of faster growth of grass. You can start by using a simple slasher that will cost you not more than UGX 7,000/= and be guaranteed to rake in at least UGX 3,000/= per customer with more money being earned based on size of compound or area of operation. Affluent neighborhoods tend to be willing to pay more for such services than the less affluent.

Gardening: People especially the ladies love flower gardens in their compounds for beauty. Anyone who has skills in this area and can also offer professional advice on what type of flowers to grow and how to blend them with each other will walk away smiling from face to face. This is a business you can start with brain work and a few implements which can hardly cost you more than UGX 40,000/=. For more expensive equipment, when starting, I advise that you only hire per job thereby pushing the cost to the customer.

Dry Cleaning: Not everyone can afford to take their laundry to the dry cleaner and yet they still need these services. A number of bachelors and spinsters living alone tend to have this problem. They are hardly at home and never want to hire full time maids but would want to have a walk in handy person to do the washing say once a day. Interestingly they tend to pay handsomely since they usually have more disposable income. The capital to start this is your strength and washing skills. Otherwise the customer gives you the basin, water and drying line where to hang the clothes.

Car Washing: Washing bays are becoming too scary for some car owners because lately they are associated with networks of thieves that make copies of car keys and use them to rob the cars after trailing the owner. Unfortunately, for many, they have no choice but to continue using these washing bays. The few that can spare time always wash the cars from their homes. However, if you have the goodwill, identifying a neighborhood of affluent car owners could come in handy for you to start a door to door home based car washing business. Investment required is Sponges, a few brushes, soap and a hose pipe, all costing less than UGX 50,000/=. Water is likely to be provided by the customer.

Garbage Disposal: Before I moved to my own premises, I used to spend UGX 5,000/= per week on garbage disposal. This is a decent sum to whoever offers such services considering that my service provider was a young man that lived in the neighborhood. With just his hands and a hired bicycle, he would collect the rubbish and dispose of it once a week. He definitely didn’t need even more than UGX 20,000/= to start this business.

Home Tutoring: Many parents are busy either looking for money, advancing careers or catching up with various social networks that when it comes to catering for the academic demands of their children at home, they fall short. Children usually have homework or need to revise in order to understand better what they are taught at school. Not many parents have the time nor desire to go through all this. Hence, anyone that can convince them that he/she can fill such a gap will make money comfortably most especially if your results speak for themselves.

Plumbing: Are you a skilled plumber? Take it from me that the mushrooming construction business is a big opportunity for you. Before you complain about not having money to buy equipment, there is an option of renting per job that you do. The most basic of jobs can easily fetch you not less than UGX 50,000/= in income and yet the actual financial investment is much less. I had a job done for me in the bathroom of laying the pipework for a Shower and Sink. The plumber walked away with UGX 120,000/= as professional fees.

Fetching Water: The coverage of piped water services is still wanting in Uganda. Many suburbs of major towns do lack piped water and homes have to resort to fetching water from different water sources. I once lived in such a neighborhood and in a month, I spent not less than UGX 80,000/= paying the man who used a bicycle to fetch the water. My quick guesstimate of that man’s income from only my neighborhood was not less than UGX 400,000/= monthly. You can start off with a second hand bicycle which will cost you not more than UGX 50,000/=. The jerrycans could cost you an additional UGX 20,000/=.

Shopping Services: There is nothing as tiring as having to shop daily from the open market or supermarket. In some cases you are forced to suspend important activities to rush to the market before it gets late in order to ensure that there is food at home. If you position yourself as a Professional Shopper, it is likely that some individuals will take on your services. Another target for such services are the expatriate community. In the cases I have seen, the customer gives you money upfront to go do the shopping. Your investment? Time and Product knowledge.

Dog Training: Dogs are becoming a standard feature in many homes either as mere pets or an addition to the security team. These dogs tend to be of more value to their owners when trained. If you can offer such services, you stand to benefit alot from the elite who tend to have such tastes.

Veterinary Services: Numerous homes tend to have animals as pets or engage in some form of urban agriculture. One of the most common is the Chicken, goat or cow rearing. As someone with Veterinary skills, you simply need to make yourself available to help families whose animals are succumbing to disease and you make clean money. The level of investment required is largely your skills since the customer is always ready to pay for any medicines over and above your professional services.

Do you have any ideas that need to be captured in this Household category?

Let us now review businesses in the General Category as shared in Part 3 of this article.

James Wire is a Small Business and Technology Consultant based in Kampala, Uganda

Follow @wirejames on Twitter

Other Articles of interest:

Business you can start with less than UGX 100,000/= (US$ 30) – Part 1

I am a firm believer in starting business the simplest way possible. While one may have this big vision about where they want to go, a journey of 1000 miles always begins with one step. Most times, we want to start that journey with 100 steps and hence get paralysed at the mere thought of gathering those 100 initial steps.

Recently, while reading through #FridayBusinessUnusualWithDM on Facebook run by my OB Dickson Mushabe, the issue at hand was to do with this person who had lost his job, had only UGX 100,000/= left and wanted to invest in a business without spending on consumption activities. That is when I realised that it was high time I shared on how one can start business with less than UGX 100,000/= (US$ 30).

The assumption in all this is that;

  1. You already have some requisite skills
  2. You are based in Uganda
  3. You are ready to operate below the radar
  4. You don’t despise work
  5. You have been pushed hard enough that you want to make a positive change in your life
  6. You are ready to work with others
  7. Above all, you are tired of talking and ready to act.

It is kind of unbelievable when one tells you that you can start business with such a seemingly measly sum of money which others easily spend on a lunch time outing. The fact is that it is very possible.

After listing down all possible business opportunities, I decided to group them in three categories (and this is to say that my list is not necessarily exhaustive). They are;

  • Food
  • Household
  • General

Due to the detail each category needs, I shall split them into three posts with the first one dealing with Food.

Food

If there is any industry in Uganda that provides you with ready income without so much hustle, it’s this one. The food business is less likely to expose you to the rampant corruption and opportunity politicisation that is faced by most other industries. People need to eat food, you don’t have to bribe them to buy your food nor do they have to know what political party you subscribe to before they can purchase. Some of the business ideas here include;

Snacks: These sell alot. They are needed for home and school consumption. Many parents with school going children always have to buy snacks for the children to take to school daily. Offices need snacks daily for their tea breaks. You could choose to sell directly to the consumers or to retailers like shops and supermarkets. Some of the most popular snacks I always see around are; Chapati, Sumbusa, Mandazi, Cookies, Cakes, Pop  Corn, Daddies, Roasted Groundnuts, Dried fruits like Mangoes, fried Silver Fish (mukene), Crisps among others.

Let us take the example of the Chapati Snack. To start off, all one needs is; A frying pan, A charcoal stove, Charcoal, Cooking Oil, A roller, Baking Flour, Baking Powder and a location. Depending on where you buy them, the frying pan, Charcoal Stove and Roller shouldn’t cost you more than UGX 60,000/= especially if you can settle for second hand equipment. Charcoal worth UGX 2000/=, Cooking oil (half a litre) at UGX 3,500/= , Baking Flour (1Kg) at UGX 7000/= and Baking Powder at UGX 1000/=. Choose a roadside location that has some decent human traffic and you probably pay nothing for it or a daily rental fee of utmost UGX 2,000/= . Rent a small table for UGX 1,500/= a day. Purchase packaging material to last you close to three days for UGX 2,000/=.  So far, you have spent a total of UGX 79,000/=. This should enable you start off from day one and thereafter, the returns from the business are expected to provide the initial cash flow required to re-invest.

This example shows us that going forward from day zero, the operating costs will be centred around Purchasing Cooking Oil, Charcoal, Baking flour, Baking powder, Table and location rental. This implies that you need to raise at least UGX 17,000/= from sales daily to have operational capital. As demand grows, you get an opportunity to sell more by procuring more raw material. I did talk to my favourite Chapati vendor and he confessed that profitability for him comes in after he has used at least 1.5 Kilograms of Baking flour. He has two key demand periods during the day and they are from 6am to 8am in the morning and 5pm to 9pm in the evening. In each of those periods, he uses up at least four (4) kilos of baking flour. Through my own judgement, this gives him revenues in the region of UGX 80,000/= to UGX 150,000/= daily.

Produce: This is one hell of a cash cow that many educated urbanites have never understood well hence leaving it for the others to exploit. The volume of food produce transacted in Uganda on a daily basis is simply massive and the margins usually made by the middle men are outrageous. Every food product you find in the market or supermarket has a supply chain associated with it. It probably emanates from some peasant’s garden, then is amalgamated by a village trader who purchases from the different peasant farmers in order to accumulate substantial volumes that are then sold to a larger trader who transports the produce to urban areas for eventual wholesale to retailers.

Products in this category that are easy to chance upon include; Maize, Millet, Rice, SimSim, Onions, Bananas, Tomatoes, etc. By simply identifying a place to purchase the produce, all one does is to ensure it arrives safely in an urban centre and you will make a decent margin selling to the Shop keepers or directly to consumers.

Take the example of Rice, during its season, one can buy a Kilogram of Milled rice for as low as UGX 1,400/= in the rice growing areas. Simply transporting that rice to an urban area like Kampala would guarantee you a wholesale price of not less than UGX 2,300/=. This gives you a margin of at least 60%. An investment of UGX 80,000/= in rice should yield you not less than 130,000/=. Should you choose to retail the rice like my sister does, the margin gets even much bigger.

I once tried my hands in the Tomato Processing business and this involved me and my wife leaving home at 4am just to ensure that we were at Nakawa Market by 4:30am to buy Tomatoes straight from the farmers who had delivered. At that time of the day, a crate of Tomatoes then cost UGX 40,000/=. However, what intrigued me was that by 6am, the same crate would cost not less than UGX 75,000/=. Come 7pm, no one would be selling in crates anymore, they split up the tomatoes into small basins and as a result, a crate worth would fetch you at least UGX 130,000/=. Studying these trends showed me that one could as well choose to simply work for three hours daily i.e. from 4am to 7am and retire for the day comfortable. With such an idea, all you need is to invest UGX 70,000/= in purchasing tomatoes today from the farmers who deliver and you will be able to multiply your money by at least 40% daily.

Outside Catering: People eat food everyday, in offices, on occasions and everywhere. Many like me do not like leaving office to look for food to eat. However, if the food found us in the office, we wouldn’t mind buying. As a shrewd entrepreneur, you can position yourself as someone who identifies the market, have customers place orders with you and then establish restaurants or food vendors that you deal with to supply. As a ‘retailer’ you negotiate for a preferential rate per plate served, add your markup and offer such a much needed service.

Notice that you do not need to invest in cooking utensils and a heavy workforce that will keep you always on your toes. It’s a Do It Yourself kind of business that will only warrant taking on extra hands as it grows. You don’t even need UGX 50,000/= to embark on this.

To find out about opportunities in the Household sector, continue to Part 2 of this post.

James Wire is a Small Business and Technology Consultant based in Kampala, Uganda

Follow @wirejames on Twitter

Other Articles of interest:

When Value Addition isn’t treasured

Recently, I went to a rice mill with two bags of husked rice ready for milling. The millers knew it was business as usual, deliver husked rice and they unhusk it. To their surprise, I asked that they not only unhusk but also grade the rice. This request almost brought operations to a standstill. Read the full story in the Daily Monitor

IMG_6113

The Rice Grader at the Government owned Rice Mill in Nabiganda Town Council, Butaleja District, Uganda

Uganda is too Important for Career Politicians

I used to wonder why Countries like the USA spend Billions of dollars engaging in Space programmes that don’t seem to have any bearing on alleviating the hunger that is afflicting many Ghetto dwellers in that country. Why the heck would someone be interested in landing a probe on Mars or send a telescope to space to study how the universe was formed allegedly billions of years ago.

It’s not until my interest in astronomy got the better of me that I begun appreciating that the survival of the human race is pegged on our ability to harness the universe. We can’t continue expecting to live and survive by chance on this earth without exploring the heavens. What shall we do when the Sun expands and bombards earth with heat causing all water to boil and evaporate as well as destroying life? What shall we do when the earth becomes moonless and we no longer have a controlling force to help our planet stay in the right orbital position? (Afterall according to research, the moon is receding away from the earth at the rate of 1.5 inches per year thereby adding 2 seconds to our day every 100,000 years). As humans, we should start considering the possibility of relocating from this planet when conditions become unfriendly (which they will eventually be). Therein lies the justification for investment in Space programmes. Already, scientists have found a very good candidate planet for human settlement called Kepler 452B located 1400 Light years away. Light years? Yes, this means that if one travelled at the speed of light which is 185,000 miles per second, it would take you 1,400 years to get there. However, how we can get there is a story for another day.

How is Uganda related to all this mini lecture on Space and the Universe?

When I look around, I see how comfortable many of my fellow elites have become regarding lifetime ambitions. Apart from pursuing better jobs, more money, good schools for their children and fascinating holidays in exotic destinations, many are aloof when it comes to what is going on in the society around them until they get hit by a WhatsApp and Facebook blockade.

Whenever any political crisis comes up, we are more concerned about our inability to trade or work for our employers than the issues that are slowly turning the country’s majority captives of a selected few whose intentions are of a black hole nature (sucking every piece of matter within their vicinity).

We always deride politicians and subscribe to adages like “Politics is a dirty game”, “Only crooks can manage politics” among others. When these very politicians mess up things, it’s we the working class that have to pay for those sins. Five years ago, the country experienced runaway inflation after the elections (due to the rampant money giveaway) and the problem was thrown onto the laps of the Governor of Bank of Uganda and his technocrats. They wrestled with that challenge for months. Gravitational waves of this impact were felt in the business community with many closing shop (especially importers). “We have been conditioned to think that only politicians can solve our problems. But at some point, maybe we will wake up and recognise that it was politicians who created our problems,” said Ben Carson.

For donkey years, people have complained about voter intimidation and voting irregularities but because most of these used to occur in rural environs, we never really cared much. It took irregularities in sensitive districts like Kampala, Mukono and Wakiso where the majority of Uganda’s nouveau riche reside to bring the issue of the Electoral Commission’s (EC) competence to the forefront. Today, thanks to the vibrance of Social Media based elites, Professor Badru Kiggundu the head of the EC has had his glorious career as a University Don and Government official relegated to the historical dustbins. It is so sad that even his great grand children are likely to shy away from classes of Uganda’s recent political history when they do eventually get of age. His descendants are likely to face a similar fate as those of Mukajanga the Chief Executioner of Kabaka Mwanga of the Buganda Kingdom who oversaw the project of killing the now highly regarded Christian Martyrs in 1886.

The broad day light rape of the democratic process that took place between the 18th and 20th of February 2016 left very many elites speechless. An old friend of mine has refused to comment on these elections till now because he simply cannot believe that the current political dinosaurs could stoop so low.

Prior to the elections I could hear some touting the need to ensure that the status-quo remains in order to have peace so that; their businesses aren’t interrupted, children can start the school term on time, no war can erupt in the country, we can continue having some sleep, the list went on and on. I refused to buy that because as someone that experienced the removal of President Idi Amin Dada, I clearly recall that we had to sacrifice at least four months of economic and academic activity in order for the country to transition. So, my belief today is that just like Gold has to go through a furnace to be what it is, our country definitely shall need to undergo a similar furnace experience.

We all have views about where we want this nation to be and gladly I believe we agree in many areas. However, the foundation stones for those issues are laid now. If we sit back and do not partake in laying those foundation stones, then we should stop armchair criticism of the career politicians who take the gamble. Remember, I said earlier that when they mess up, it is we the working class that have to clean up the mess.

As a result, I have made a decision to play a more active role in the political environment of this nation. Political power is too important to be left in the hands of self seekers, ignorant people as well as non visionaries. It is our lack of active participation in the political processes as the working elite that is letting down the rural dwellers who look upto us for guidance. So, when we care less about the political space, the thugs, crooks, plunderers, self seekers create political Kingdoms whose aim is to keep everyone in bondage. It should therefore come as no surprise when our efforts to address the nation’s challenges experience still births.

As an action, I am going to start by transferring my voter registration details from Mukono to Butaleja District my Alma Mater,\; thereafter, I will make it a point going forward to immerse myself in the local politico-economic issues of my district as well as play a major role in the economic empowerment of the people there. The beauty this time is that Butaleja has a new wave of politicians in whom I have much confidence, especially the Members of Parliament. I believe working with them to meet the needs of the masses will not be a challenge. I have come up with proposals for how I believe the district can be turned around for the better which I hope to share with the incoming MPs and District Councillors. If you too did the same in your home district, we can then form a network of professionals working for the political good of the society we are in. The network can be used to advocate for the change that we need in this nation as well as ensure that leaders remain accountable to the masses. This nonsense of waiting for the election period and loads of promises are made from free exercise books, free hoes to building cities must stop.

 

basket_weaver

A Basket Weaver in Adjumani District – Northern Uganda

What Uganda needs is organic sustainable development backed up by genuine inclusive economic growth targeting the empowerment of locals as opposed to the current tilt that is inclined towards foreigners.

Such pro people and proactive policies are only going to be engineered and pursued by elites that are socially conscious and ready to ensure that their efforts to set a comfortable cushion for their own descendants are in tandem with the welfare improvements of the society around them.

It may seem a long shot but just like man is planning to relocate from the Earth when habitation becomes impossible, we too can contribute more to a much better Uganda. The planning starts now, stop being critical and start being practical.

For God and My Country

@wirejames on Twitter