Tag Archives: kampala

HOW TO – Start a Home Business

The signs of a struggling economy are allover us. Everywhere you turn, businesses are closing and the new ones that open can hardly last six months. The spending power of Ugandans has greatly reduced thereby affecting many an entrepreneur.

When you take a walk through most of the shopping centres and office buildings in Kampala today, you’re likely to find many closed shops and business premises. The spiralling rent charges under a climate of reduced business are leading many to abandon city operations or if not business altogether.

Despite these grim signs, we Ugandans are known for our entrepreneurial spirit. We always want to have something on the side. Recently, while having lunch with a friend that had just been registered by the Architects body, the first thing he told me was, “I want to register my own Architectural firm now.”

I however want to share with you the idea of doing business from your home. This is a concept many are not aware about or feel inclined not to embrace due to various perceptions. However, if you really want to continue being an entrepreneur under these tough economic times, you need to seriously consider starting a Home Business.

As I understand it, a home business is one that you operate from the confines of your residence. It involves producing your products or offering your services from the confines of your residence only going out to either prospect for customers, deliver a service or make deliveries in the case of products. As someone that has dabbled in home business for eight years now, I can say that it’s worth the inconvenience.

Some of the benefits of a home business include;

  • Lower Business Start-up costs: By operating from your residence, there are a number of shared costs that you can share with the pre-existing dispensation. Electricity, Rent, Water can all be initially utilised from the home bills.

  • Ease of working: For those that are trying to earn an extra buck outside their official jobs, working from home during the evenings and weekends can help them grow their dreams in business.

  • Flexibility: Home business saves you the daily routine morning and evening traffic jams that you mandatorily go through in order to head to a remote work place. This implies that you can start work at convenient times without a hussle. Working mothers would appreciate this more than the men because they usually have to divide their attention between work and the children.

  • Business Validation: By operating from home and avoiding certain overheads, you are able to get time to not only understand the business better but also verify its potential for success. I covered more on this in this article.

How do you go about starting a Home Business?

Passion: First and foremost, identify where your passion lies. Due to the kind of inconvenience a home business is likely to have on your personal life and space, it had better be something you are so passionate about and do not mind doing any time of the day. Short of that, you might back off before maturity due to flimsy reasons not worth noting here.

Skills: Now that you know what you want to do, ensure that you have the requisite skills to see it through. These skills could be acquired by you or hired. I do all my home business with my family. We do not hire external labour at all. However, there might be cases where you need to hire external skills sets. Ensure that you plan well on how to embrace external people in your residence.

Minimum Viable Product/Service: Assess the opportunity you want to pursue and establish what is required at a bare minimum for you to offer a service or product on the market. Even when the product/service is not what you eventually envisage it to be, focus more on getting into the market and letting the market shape your eventual decisions on the product or service. I do package products for supply to supermarkets. Initially we started by packing only 100 gram products, however, due to customers’ demands, we now added packs of 250 and 500 grams.

Market Access: Getting to the market is another crucial consideration while working from home. You need to study your target market and establish the most convenient and cost effective modes of accessing them. Supermarkets are one good avenue for products. I also know of a young man who sells second hand clothes from home. He reaches out to most of his clients on phone and through hawking visits to recreation centres in the evening hours as well as over the weekends. This guarantees him regular sales.

Working Space: Remember you’re operating from your home. For some, you might be having an empty room somewhere that you can put to use. In other cases, this free space is not there and you just have to create the space. I begun the home business while renting a house, so, space was an issue. What I opted for was to have a portion of the sitting room turn into a production area for a limited time and upon completion, it reverted to its original setting. If you came home while we were producing our products, you would think it was a 24 hour factory.


My then 5 year old son helping with the product display at a tradeshow

Cooperation: For the married or if you’re sharing a residence, you need to win the cooperation of your family members. Do not force some of these activities upon them as they are likely to get very negative about the entire project, eventually working against you to its detriment.

Do I hear you asking, what kind of business you can do from home?

In a series of articles titled Business You can start with less than 100,000/=, I covered a number of possible business opportunities. Reading through will give you a good idea of what to try out.

However, Snacks, Mushroom growing, Decoration, Online Work like Transcription, Software Development among others are some of the easy to start home businesses.

Off you go. Get started and feel free to share your experiences.

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

Follow @wirejames on Twitter

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KCCA, Stop the Sugar Coated Incompetence

A visit to the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) Website led me to read about the Directorate of Physical Planning and I saw these opening lines, “To plan the development of the functional urban design, infrastructure and administer land management of Kampala city. To ensure that the development in the city is organized and does not exert stress on the existing functioning infrastructures, the planning takes care of the overall planning of Kampala city.”

I was led to review this online information after the heart breaking loss of lives and property in the collapse of the Kyaseka Towers, an under construction Six Storeyed building as reported in the media. I also took time off to pass by the site and it wasn’t a good scene at all.

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 13.27.47What I read on the website was in total contrast with the exchange I had earlier on Twitter with the same institution.

As if that wasn’t enough, the media has released all sorts of press messages from KCCA consistently putting blame on either the owner or the contracted engineer of the structure. Some of the stories that turned out into the media are;

In all this, the message from White Hall (KCCA Headquarters) is clear, “It’s not us. We are clean good guys and blame free. The problem is with the building owner.” This impression is insinuated in statements from some of the institution’s staff like;

For KCCA to give you a permit, your engineer must be registered with an institute of professional engineers because some people pretend to be engineers yet they don’t have skills. We advised Mr Kyeseka to first get our approval but he couldn’t understand,” Engineer Kitaka Andrew, Director Engineering at KCCA.

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 14.02.38This building was not yet complete. As you can see, there were still poles going up meaning that it was still going up. However he [Moses Kyaseka] built for a certain period even before we came into existence as KCCA and then the building stopped for some time. And he was resuming but in a clandestine manner not in an open manner. We had summoned them to come to KCCA to resubmit their plans. And actually even recently as recent as last week, our engineers came to this building, they inspected it quickly and we were supposed to start doing the structural integrity assessment of the building. Unfortunately it collapsed before an assessment was done,” Engineer Kitaka Andrew, Director Engineering at KCCA.

We urge all developers to always observe building regulations in place.” Ms. Jennifer Musisi, Executive Director at KCCA.

I have always and will continue being a vocal, unrepentant supporter of this institution but being the objective type, when nonsense is done, I should never be expected to tolerate it and I won’t. The collapse of poorly constructed structures isn’t a new story in Kampala but what amazes me is to see that the officials supposed to work on turning around the status-quo retreating to pathetic excuses.

It is well known that successful corporate professionals are those who are skillful enough to steer clear of blame when something goes wrong and yet position themselves to get all the accolades when all is right. KCCA staff seem to have perfected that art and as long as you can ensure that you are in the good books of a superior, even such public embarrassments like this one need not faze you at all.

While the average government employee would claim that they are poorly paid to be able to carry out their duties effectively, the KCCA staff are wise enough to realise that such an excuse can’t count and hence the response they made in a tweet that “like Police KCCA can’t be present on all sites 24/7 developers public & professionals all have a role to curb this.” So, they prefer to give the impression that they are over whelmed.

Overwhelmed? My foot. You have the audacity to organise a very efficient Carnivore costing Millions of Dollars and still can’t plan for the lives of the people you are maintaining the city for? By concentrating on cosmetic activities, KCCA is appealing to lower level instincts of humanity and the time has come for them to start addressing issues that will touch the marrow of Kampala’s dwellers.

How can a developer defy the mighty KCCA and they keep quiet? Yet the same KCCA is on record for being super efficient when it comes to chasing, whipping and confiscating property from hundreds if not thousands of street hawkers? One developer? Really? If it grunts like a pig, then it must be a pig. All the hallmarks of conveniently bribed officials at the White Hall are visible in this blame throwing statement issued by the Director of Engineering. He’s essentially condoning the “Hear no Evil, See no Evil” attitude of his staff.

How could the developer have reached the stage of even letting tenants into the structure without the knowledge of KCCA? Are there no staff of the institution that ply that route daily to and from work? It is this ‘leave work at work’ or ‘it’s not my duty’ attitude that needs to be changed. Remember, a junior secretary in that institution earns more than a doctor yet they are all government workers. With such serious perks, I would expect staff who eat and breathe KCCA everywhere they go.

I still have some unanswered questions for KCCA;

  • I know you’re overwhelmed by the size of the city, can you at least show us one inspection report per year for that structure ever since the authority was set up?

  • You claim the contractor defied your directives, isn’t there an ordinance at KCCA that clearly stipulates the consequences of defiance?

  • It is claimed that you had requested that he first gets his plan approved including complying with the need for a professional engineer. How did he get to build a whooping Six storeys without your knowledge?

  • You claim he built in a road reserve. Is this the time to make such information public? Can you please publish all structures built in the road reserves and the corresponding action to be taken against them? Does it mean if he hadn’t infringed on the road reserve you would be ok with a poor structure?

For once I side with my fellow Lumumbist the Lord Mayor Elect who is quoted as saying, “Many city buildings don’t meet the standards and this problem is particularly caused by the Directorate of Engineering at KCCA, who don’t take time to study the plans presented to them. These are the things I have always been complaining about and now that my office is still locked, I can’t do anything to rectify such problems.

To be honest, Madam Jennifer Musisi, as the ED of KCCA, the buck starts and stops with you. You need to carry out an internal investigation and find out your staff who are conveniently colluding with illicit developers in the city. Uproot them even if they are your favourites. We need a city that is going to be structured around proper planning. Genuine developers complain of their plans taking for ever to be approved ( I have a doctor friend who is in this quagmire and has been waiting for over two years) yet quacks go about their business unhindered. With the level of IT deployments you are making as an institution, can’t you have a simple monitoring tool that can give your Engineering team reminders on which areas to follow up when and how? Some of these things to get done only require people who are willing to appreciate that they are paid above average salaries and hence must go the extra mile to produce results.

Get out of that shell guys at White House because we can’t stand tolerating such gross levels of incompetence being massaged by a well oiled Public Relations machinery.

If this isn’t hallucination, then what is it?

Rest In Peace to those who died in this tragedy including that University Student who had celebrated his birthday the night before.

@wirejames on Twitter.