14 October 2012

Uganda: Executive Style - Two Decades of Steady Growth


Kiboko Group of Companies, a local company with interests in manufacturing and distribution in pharmaceuticals, consumer durables and engineering projects among others, last month commemorated 20 years of existence. Sanjeev Gupta, the CEO, spoke to Julius Businge about their progress:

How do you describe the two decades?

The company started with two people in 1992. However, as time went on, the company grew. We have opened other companies bringing the number to three. This year we celebrate 20 years of our being here.

It has been a good business in Uganda and our cerebrations coincide with the 50 years of Uganda's independence. We are really happy with our customers, the people and the government of Uganda for the support.

How much have you so far invested in Uganda?

We have invested a lot of money and we expect to do more. We expect to raise a gross turnover of Shs 100 billion by the end of this year. Our work force has grown to over 800 people in Uganda up from just two in 1992, and over 1,000 across the East African region. We are pround about our employment strategy where we have recruited 85% of our workers from Uganda and the balance from outside. This has worked very well; we have over 40 distributors across the country.

How has the economic situation such as high inflation and high exchange rate affected you?

Last year was really tough. If I remember very well in July, 2011 the Shilling dropped to as low as 2,900 per dollar and we were greatly affected because we import goods. But we managed the situation very closely with our distributors, the management, and our customers kept us going. We cut costs and spent on serious ventures only. We only grew by 40% down from the expected over 50%. We think the growth would have been a little higher if the economy was doing well.

What have been the key challenges to your business?

Apart from the volatile economic conditions, counterfeiting has been another big problem. Once you have groups of people importing and distributing fake products similar to those you are dealing in moreover at a cheaper price, they will automatically affect your revenue. But we are trying to maintain the brand of our products and to sensitise the public on the right products. Of course some of the measures are beyond our hands but we are praying hard for the counterfeit law to take effect.

Otherwise competition is also there but it's healthy. You cannot be a monopoly in business and serve the people well. But like I told you we are keeping in touch with our customers, distributors, staff and everyone involved in our business. We continuously conduct trainings; inform our customers of new developments in our group so they can trust us. We ensure we extend the best possible services to all groups of customers like government, organizations, corporate customers, wholesale traders among others.

What strides are you making to enter the EAC market?

We are currently operating in Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, and Uganda. Rwanda and Burundi are small markets but we are trying to see how best we can serve them. We are opening branches, looking for partners in those countries, putting aside capital to ensure we penetrate these markets. That said, Uganda remains our main focus for business with close to 80% of our operations being in Uganda and the balance distributed among the other markets.

What is the group's plan for the next few years?

We have planned to keep growing at a faster speed other factors remaining constant. We want to be the market leader in this business through empowering our management team, increasing the number of products and at least maintain over 50% growth per year.

In your view, what are the qualities of a good Chief Executive Officer?

To me leadership is very important. You have to be progressive and positive looking. Don't be biased on any matters. Keep personal interests out of business, support your juniors, listen to them and above all monitor what they are doing.

Your last word....

I urge our customers to stay with us, support our team as we continue to serve them. We will be looking forward to celebrating the next 20 years.

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