I have learnt in Life that there is no perfect human being or a perfect curve to success. After being given computer science at Makerere University years after polio had been kicked out of Uganda, I had it in my mind that I could become the best computer scientist [read Hacker] in Uganda, I started teaching myself code and in the process landed on “Sams Teach Yourself C++ in 21 Days”, It was never that easy as the tittle suggested because I went close to 100 days before I could write some meaningful code besides the usual “HELLO WORLD”. First forward to months after graduation, Having spent millions paying tuition, I expected to get a job that would pay me money equivalent/greater than the tuition figures that we were paying, that’s when reality started kicking in, Jobs were nowhere to be seen and I became comfortable with any job that would pay me something that I could use to put food in my stomach.
The message that was told to us on our graduation day started popping up [Go out and be Job creators, not Job seekers], With Zero capital, the message seemed to be mocking me instead but I decided not to give up. “You can get almost every answer to anything you ask on the internet” that’s what one of my lectures used to say. To save on the limited money I had with me, I walked from Natete to Makerere [to access free internet rather than pay in a cafe] and on getting access to CIT Labs, I asked ‘Jajja’ Google “How do I get rich without capital?”, The various articles that Google provided gave me some hope, I read articles of ‘How to be a millionaire in 100 days’ and I even started talking to my own self about the things I would do after becoming a millionaire in 100 days. I recall it’s during this period that I read stories of how Katumwa [of Katumwa Sports Center] became rich from selling stockings in ‘Owino’.
With all ideas being gotten from the world wide web of how to become rich in 100 days, the midfielders in my stomach weren’t interested and started complaining that besides saliva, I hadn’t given them something to eat for a long time [stomach rumblings]. I slowly walked to Wandegeya in search for Kikomando [beans and chapati]. I noticed some wise Ugandans had taken advantage of the OBAMA wave [Yes we can higi haga] and created OBAMA CHAPATI TAKEAWAY [they were spiced fine I must admit], they packed chapatis in paper bags customized with the ‘‘OBAMA SMART TAKEAWAY’’ trademark on them and they were making abnormal sales as compared to other chapati sellers. A few minutes after finishing my Kikomando, I got a call from my sister so I had to head to town. In town, I bumped into lads with a mobile craven van selling chapatis in paper bags with ‘’GADDAFI QUALITY CHAPATI’’ inscribed on them, they were also making unusual sales based on the lines of customers I saw.
Obama and Gaddafi Chapati paper bags
This is when the “Become a millionaire in 100 days” tried making sense, like the prior articles had suggested, once you see a ripe business venture, take it up. This was it, I could see myself making money from abnormal sales too, I called upon my buddy Kakeeto and together we ventured into business, we got a simple loan and bought all the things required to make chapatis. Since he already had a customer base, we hired our local Kikomando lad IVAN [told him to channel his clients] and our trademark ‘MUSEVENI DELICIOUS CHAPATI’ kicked off at exactly 6pm in the simple room with outside sitting space that we had rented. 8pm and IVAN had already baked 100 chapatis with no single sale. All his usual customers seemed to repel him like they had seen the Bachwezi playing hide and seek. “Maybe we should reduce on the price, these people are used to UGX 500 chapatis” Kakeeto tried to console me. We reduced the price from UGX1, 000 to UGX 500 and by 9pm, we still had zero sales.
At around 10pm, a Kato Lubwama look alike came to the stand. We saw IVAN getting him 3 chapatis and before we could thank him for the support, another young man came through and IVAN gave him 5 chapatis, we started smiling because it all looked like our good luck had opened up. With me being the accountant, I asked IVAN for the money and that’s when it hit us harder. “abo ba lejjula bange mba’wola ne bansasula eda”[those are my regular customers, I always give them on credit and they pay later], I immediately told IVAN to stop baking and we close the business till the next day, we each got 3 chapatis[supper] and headed home. The next day we tried hawking but the results remained constant. The only option left was to remove the ‘’MUSEVENI DELICIOUS CHAPATI’’ signs and make sales like other regular chapatti lads [which seemed to work for our old stock], we sold a few chapatis but couldn’t manage paying IVAN’s salary and rent so business had to be closed.
The “Become a millionaire in 100 days” turned into “100 ways to run from your creditors” when the time for paying back the soft loan reached. We varnished from the grid just like how the Bachwezi disappeared in tongues. IVAN called and informed us that someone had done a ‘UPDF-KONY’ like skit on us [they captured our saucepans, Jerrycans, charcoal stove and plates] and we could only get them back if we cleared our simple loan.
From that day, I learnt a few things;
- To become an entrepreneur, capital is needed and if you don’t have it, it can be gotten from being employed [job seeker] for some time.
- Don’t believe all the stories fed to you by overnight billionaires/millionaires of how they became rich by starting with UGX 50 capital.
- Business brands [read names] MATTER.
- You might copy someone’s idea but you might not have the necessary skills required to drive it forward.
- When you get a loan from someone, PAY UP.
Until then, the Kakeeto series continue @andsjeff