Patrick Bitature started his business empire with a single company, Simba Telecom,
then a retail chain dealership, in MTN air-time. ‘I was vending airtime,’ he says.
From there he expanded into broadcasting, , followed by Electronics. He also has
interests in insurance, banking, hotels and resorts. Today, his businesses have
subsidiaries in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Nigeria. He owns the following
businesses either wholly or partly: Simba Telecom Uganda, Simba Telecom Kenya, Simba
Telecom Tanzanaia, Simba Telecom Nigeria, Simba Electronics Limited, National
Insurance Corporation, Global Trust Bank Uganda, Electromaxx Limited Uganda, the
operators of Tororo Power station, a 20MW thermal power plant that uses renewable
bio-diesel to generate Electricity. New Vision Group Uganda, Protea Hotel Kololo
Uganda estimated at Shs 15bn, Simba Tours and Travels Uganda, Simba Distributors
Ltd, Simba Properties Ltd Uganda, Simba Electronics, Simba Forex Bureau Limited,
Blitz Video, Ice Cream Ltd and Dembe FM. While talking to business enthusiasts at
the 360° Network Ask the Entrepreneur forum the other week, the business mogul
talked about investment and how to start a business and develop into an empire. “I
always like to share the little that I know with anybody who is serious about
something they are doing. I went to business school, I read books but most
importantly I learn from people -people like Sudhir who have built business
empires.” There is a lot you can learn from his talk if you are looking at starting
and running a successful business.
Raising Capital to start a business
Bitature: There are several ways of getting capital: you can inherit it, marry into
it (but the mother-in-law will always spot you!), you can gamble – I wouldn’t count
on that! Other people steal (I wouldn’t advise this though!) So there are only two
ways to get this capital. One you have to earn it. Get a job work for it. Even if
they pay you little! Secondly, you can borrow –get a loan from a bank. When you earn
you have to save, what you save can help you borrow. The bank will look at how you
run your account before they can give you the loan. If you are not sure and have no
focus on what you want to invest in, then don’t borrow!
Why Ugandan businesses fail
Bitature: The spirit of entrepreneurship is there in Uganda but so many businesses
die with in the first five years. It is a shame! It is like when you rear so many
chicken but many of them die before they are productive! The reasons why businesses
fail include the following:
Bitature: We don’t have a culture to honour commitments especially to loans! You
get money from the bank and you don’t want to pay it back because of school fees or
your wife is sick or something happened. When you don’t clear your loan, the bank
will come and repossess your property.
Lack practical skills
Bitature: We lack the practical skills because we over emphasize academic education.
When you come out of the university, you know nothing about business. There are so
many people in Kikubo, they are not educated, walk around in shorts but they are
astute businessmen and have made lots of money.
Secrets to successful business
Bitature: All rich businessmen have discipline. You have to persevere. Every one of
us has made losses at one time or another but we cut our losses and move on. You
have to tenacious and hardworking. Lay a good structure: It is better to be a small
fish in a big pond. Do not rush into partnerships.
How do you manage to be successful and humble at the same time?
Bitature: Humility – when you are ambitious, you have to have somebody that pushes
you to be number one. For me, the credit goes to my mother. My mother passed on, now
I have my wife took. She always reminds me to keep my feet on the ground. It helps
when you have someone to bring you back down: people forget and they think they are
Advice to young entrepreneurs
Bitature: Any business you do should make you 25%. Make sure you make 1% percent a