Monthly Archives: January 2017

Bird Flu – A lesson for income diversity

The day begun just like any other. Namusabi (name not real), headed straight to the chicken coop as is her routine each morning. As she went through her motions, she eagerly anticipated the upcoming delivery of birds to one of her large customers. With the anticipated income, she had plans to pay up the school fees dues for her three children.

As the day progressed, a call came through from a friend who proceeded to ask her if she had read the news about Bird Flu. Namusabi had no clue and asked for details, only to be told that the deadly disease had been detected in Uganda. The news hit her like a lightning bolt.

Within days, orders were cancelled and it dawned upon her that she was headed for a financial crash. Rearing chicken has been her sole job and indeed all she can boast of in life has come from that business. Today, she is faced with the prospect of losing what she has worked for all this time. Basic survival is being threatened and she seems to have no where to turn.

This lady’s experience is reflective of many. We usually have single income streams and for as long as they run smoothly, we bask in comfort. Often times this works out well until disaster strikes. In today’s business environment, survival can be so fickle that loss of customers can be stimulated by seemingly minute incidents. The spread of social media has only made matters worse in this regard.

Something else we have to deal with is the seasonality of business. Most opportunities have seasons when they flourish and this essentially means that off season periods bring forth lower income. This is covered well in this article I wrote a while back. Most people that make it through life have always ensured that they set up multiple streams of income from diverse sources.

Are you running a business? Do you have a job? Is that your only income source? Have you ever asked yourself what could happen if that opportunity fizzled away? Does the thought of such an occurrence send chills down your spine?

You’re not alone. Do not sit back and merely hope or pray that it doesn’t happen. You have to do something about it.

It’s usually advisable to consider pursuing a secondary or tertiary business opportunity once you have secured your primary business (income stream). By having a secure primary income stream, you guarantee that you have relatively enough to cater for your current daily needs. This gives you the impetus to take on new frontiers with ease.

Going back to Namusabi’s case, once she weathers this bird flu scare, she should consider investing in additional business opportunities like; a Mobile Money stand, a retail shop, raising pigs, vegetable growing among others. She could take advantage of opportunities that are comlementary to her primary chicken business. Vegetable growing for example can benefit a lot from chicken manure, a waste product of her primary business. With a steady supply of vegetables from her garden she can set up a vegetable stand in the market to sell her homegrown vegetables. More ideas on small scale easy to setup business opportunities can be found here.

In case you aren’t interested in the active income opportunities, consider investing in passive ones. The Stock Exchange is a good example. Buying shares of listed companies can go a long way in helping you achieve your goal. Another passive opportunity is dealing in the relatively safer government securities.

Essentially, do not put all your eggs in one basked if your aspiration is financial security. Spread out your risk and without doubt, the net effect will be improved financial stability.

What is your view?

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Sala Puleesa – Your Child isn’t a Failure

While talking to a friend on phone, she narrated to me how someone she knew wept in her presence because her daughter had scored ten (10) aggregates in the Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE). She was all too furious and preparing to launch an assault of ISIS proportions upon her daughter. To her, the young girl had failed. She had let her down despite all the money that was spent giving her extra studies as well as taking her to a top school.

I keep hearing such stories on a daily and they depress me so much. As a parent of a 2016 PLE candidate, I too went through a lot especially in the last term as documented in this article. Uganda’s national examination system has become one that favours techniques as opposed to knowledgeability. Many of the candidates left the examinations clearly convinced that they were easier than the ones they had been accustomed to. However, they too had a problem reconciling the grades they got when the results came out. My son spent some time kinda depressed, his classmate spent an entire day crying out to his mother wondering how he got the marks he got, while an Old Boy of mine narrated the same about his daughter.

For as long as you are educating your child in the local Ugandan Curriculum, you need to ready yourself to appreciate two things;

  1. The examination of the students encourages more of cram work as well as toeing a pre-set line of thinking as opposed to giving candidates adequate breadth to contribute unique ideas and ways of thinking to the global knowledge bank. Why for example would you mark a child wrong for stating that Light bends when it is widely known today that under intense gravity, indeed light bends? The notion that light travels in a straight line has been surpassed by the studies in Astronomy that prove otherwise.

  2. You can never use the exam results of UNEB to gauge your child’s abilities especially when it comes to soft/survival skills. Some of the parents wailing and showing a lot of grief about the failure of their children are the very ones who have in the past praised them for being outspoken, go-getters, critical thinkers etc. Show me which UNEB exam tests such attributes?

Let us analyse my son’s results for example. He got Ten (10) aggregates and the points were spread out as follows;

  • Mathematics – D2

  • English – D2

  • Social Studies – C3

  • Science – C3

Under normal circumstances, a pedestrian parent will rush to shed a tear and wonder why he never got Aggregate 4. However, let us look at the results in detail. It is very clear that the grading was way up there.

Basing on the information I have from some UNEB examiners, I learnt that a Distinction 1 in Social Studies (which was the best done subject) started at 96%. This clearly means that with a Credit 3, my boy scored in the region of 85% to 90%.

A look at English implies that with his Distinction 2, he definitely scored more than 89%, same with Mathematics. The Credit 3 in Science could very easily have translated to marks between 83% and 89%.

After analysing this, I looked around at the pass marks for most of the professional qualifications that we pursue and this is when I realised that even the much revered CPA exams that professional accountants sit to become chartered accountants have their pass mark as 50%. One of the parents that was so disappointed with their child has sat these exams on two occasions and failed to pass. What moral authority do they have to declare that their child is a failure? Are they trying to imply that they too are failures?

It is an established fact that the level of scrutiny, marking and grading for urban schools especially in Central Uganda is so stringent that pupils who would readily have earned Aggregate 4 are condemned to twice that.

Another issue disturbing parents too is the desire for their children to go to the traditional Giant schools. Most of these are religio-centered schools with over forty years of existence. They are ready to bribe even the gatemen to ensure that their children get slotted into those schools. This is sapping a lot of their energy and lowering the chances for legitimately qualified pupils to access those schools. Imagine a school having to cater for the following interest groups; The Founding Church, State House, Ministry of Education, Old Students, Cultural Affiliation …. the list goes on and on. After those interest groups have taken up more than 75% of the slots available, then the legitimately qualified candidates are considered. Huh!!!!

My son out of peer influence had chosen one of those traditional religio-centered schools and I chose to let him have his way. However, despite being told that he could still get there using other channels, I bailed out when I learnt that it has class streams with upto 100 students, the dormitory setting is no different from sardines in a can, there is no more effort put into extra curricula activities among other things.

I woke up upon this realisation and decided that I will not allow him to kill his sports talent as well as other life skills all in the name of having the privilege to join a top name school. I am glad we are in agreement on this (Mom, Dad and Son) and have already made a decision to take him to a school we regard as offering a holistic package of education under the local curriculum. You want to know the school?

Anyway, back to my point, YOUR CHILD IS NOT A FAILURE !!!!!!!

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