8 October 2009

Uganda: Scaling Business Heights With Passion, Self Drive

Ms Amina Hersi Moghe, the winner of the 2008 Woman Investor of the year Award is a remarkable woman. To begin with, she has just completed the construction of one of the two multi-million construction projects that will change not only the landscape of Kampala's Central Business District but also the lifestyle of its people.

The Oasis Mall along Yusuf Lule road that is the home of Nakumatt supermarket; with a host of banks and other retail outlets. It was opened two months ago. The second project, Laburnam Courts on Nakasero road is a high-end luxury and fully serviced accommodation facility consisting of over 120 three, two and one bedroom apartments.

Ms Moghe also runs Kingstone Enterprises Limited, one of the largest distributors of cement and other hardware materials in Kampala.

Born 46 years ago in Bungoma in Western Kenya, Ms Moghe went to school in the small town where her mother Ms Sarah Hersi Ali is still a prominent businesswoman. Her parents moved to Bungoma from Nakuru, the provincial headquarters of Kenya's extensive Rift Valley province in 1958.

"My mother is a very strong willed person and a superb businesswoman and I have taken much after her," Ms Moghe says.

Though born in Kenya, she does not see herself as a foreigner. Her birth place of Bungoma is actually closer to Kampala than it is to Nairobi and the family has been involved in cross-border trade with Uganda since the days of Idi Amin.

"I have been living permanently in Uganda for the last 10 years and I feel more at home here now," she quips.

Indeed it was her family (mother) that suggested that she moves to Uganda following a tragedy that saw her lose two daughters aged 7 and 8 years in a road accident in 1998. The family felt that the trauma of the loss would have been difficult to overcome because of constant reminders from sympathisers who meant no harm.

This marked the turning point in Ms Moghe's life.

"I found it easier to settle down in Uganda and my family had a link that could take care of their business interests on the ground,' she says

A typical day for her begins at 6am in the morning and ends at 6pm.

"I wake up to do the paperwork and make all the crucial decisions and after a light breakfast arrive at work between 7.30 and 8am," she explains.

Her office is mobile depending on the project she is undertaking.

But what really motivates this single mother of three? After the deathof her father, Ms Moghe and her sister were hurried into accounting school by their mother with the sole purpose of indicting them early into business.

"In my teenage life my sister and I were mostly helping our mother in her various businesses and we therefore did not see much of it," she says.

However, she does not regret this early introduction into the business world. Without a doubt her mother is her mentor and she also remembers the sound advice of her Uncle Mr Adam Hersi Ali, a Financial Secretary at treasury in Kenya's Ministry of Finance.

"I can describe myself as self-motivated with a passion for what I do" she says with a good dose of confidence.

Ms Moghe rubbishes talk that her businesses are a front for well connected local politicians emphasising that all her business partners are aware of her record.

"People are free to talk and you can't stop them," she says.

Asked about her management style, she emphasises that she believes in teamwork, role differentiation and accountability.

"I cannot achieve anything on my own so I have to depend on other people and this is equally true for those that I depend on.

However, each person has their responsibility and they report to me because it's my responsibility to ensure that things run smoothly. I also believe in empowering people to perform their duties. " Ms Moghe says.

So what does the 2008 Woman Investor of the year Award mean to her? "It was a pleasant surprise and I'm grateful for the recognition. The award has really inspired me to do more in the coming years," she says.

Ms Moghe hopes that the award will be an inspiration for women entrepreneurs to take up the challenge of contributing positively to the growth of the nation. Her advice to women entrepreneurs is to be at the top of their business at all times, spending time to understand and nurture the business.

She counsels on cutting costs and reinvesting profits in order to strengthen the business. "Enjoy it, love it and it will never be a burden". She adds that local women have the potential of contributing as much as men to business and investment.

"The trend is that most big investors come from abroad but I believe that the locals have a lot of potential and should in fact contribute more because they have a bigger stake in the growth and development of the country," she says.

She commends the Uganda Investment Authority and the Government for creating a favourable environment for investments. "Uganda has the fastest systems in the region for processing investor requirements and this makes it an attractive destination for investments," she concludes.

Apart from business her other passion is being with her children.

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