Almost every business idea works in Uganda. There’s really no special secret about running a business in this country. You don’t need to spend time looking for the best business idea. You don’t need to read a million business books or attend some motivational talk. When it comes to business in Uganda, there is just one secret; “just start, and be consistent for at least two years.”

The two years part is the scariest. Because that is the time of trials. That is your time in the desert, in the wild. That is when people will make fun of you. That is when you will show up at alumni meetups and people will be feeling better than you. Everyone will be dropping some big name. I work with UNRA, I work with NTV. And you will have nothing but a ka-shop in Ntinda. It is in these two years that you learn the value of every single coin. You learn aspects of business compliance. You learn the tricks of the game. You get to know where to source things from. You become an expert in your field. Those two years are always hell.

I have this friend of mine. A few years back, he took a bold move to start a side hustle. He saw an opportunity in making car keys and dealing in other car accessories. He started. He had never cut a key in his life. All he had was a vision. So he reached out to a friend who was in the business and go some basic lessons of the trade. The abacus of cutting keys of the sort. He got some money and invested in his first machine. Then he begun looking for business. He started within his circle of friends. “Hey, do you have a copy of your key?” Then he would make you one. Every day he would be on YouTube, on car forums, just improving himself. Of recent, he even completed a top dollar course that certifies him as a key expert. And you know he went from doing just Toyotas to all kinds of car models. He is so good at the game that he only needs to take one look at your key and then make you a key.

So today when you check out Kepler KEYS you may wonder, what’s the secret to this business? No big secret. It is that consistency, showing up every single day to get better at what you do, having those weeks when no customer is calling. Give this man some more years and he will have pivoted to something even bigger in this field.
When I always meet him, I tell him; “educated people we overthink things, we have Akatengo.” That’s why ignorance is bliss.
When an educated person wants to start a business, they are thinking of all the obstacles. “I need a logo, I need a website, I need KCCA approvals, I need to register with URSB, what about NEMA, oh there is also URA.”
If you contrast that with a man from Kikuubo. If he wants to start a factory. He will ask someone; “so what equipment do I need?” They will give him a list and he proceeds to ship. He simply learns along the way. He will only learn about NEMA when they come to close the factory. That is when he will complete that process. When UNBS comes to close him down, that too is the point he learns that lesson. When his machines blow out, that’s when he remembers that he needed a breaker in his electrical panel. This man just starts, and will be consistent at it.
So until you are ready to face those two years of awakening in a business, don’t fool yourself looking for business tips, there is no business tip. All other tips you learn on the job during those two years.
By Ian Ortega