Businessmen Controlling Millions in Uganda Reveal Why They Ditched Kenya

Screengrabs of telecommunications booster established in Uganda by Bidii Sitewise(Left) and Bidii Sitewise CEO Amos Njuguna Ndung’u(Right)

For 11 years now, Kenyan-born businessman Amos Njuguna Ndung’u has been running his construction business in Uganda alongside his two Kenyan partners.

Ndung’u, Antony Kaberia and Joseph Juma established their construction company, Bidii Sitewise, in Kampala after determining that it would be more profitable and easier compared to Kenya.

In an interview with Chams Media's Daring Abroad, Ndung'u revealed that he originally went to Uganda to pursue his university education.

After graduating with a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science, however, he stated that he was forced to venture into the world of entrepreneurship after several failed attempts at securing a job.

Bidii Sitewise
A collage image of a construction site (Left) and steel fabrication project(Right)
Bidii Sitewise

He started small businesses including printing before he found his way into the construction industry, beginning the venture with the establishment of telecommunication services for clients across Uganda.

"I came to study Computer Science after I finished my form four exams. However, I did not get a job after my studies because the computer science field was quite new and there were very few employers. So I decided to venture into business. 

“We all met here in Uganda and decided to venture into construction works in 2012. Our first entrance into the construction industry was the telecommunication services and it was at a time when 3G network was coming into the market so there was a big need for fibre laying services," he stated. 

Why It Is Better to Start a Business in Uganda

Ndung’u called on Kenyans to expand and invest in Uganda stating that the conditions for operating a business in the country were better.

According to him, the clientele in Uganda was more receptive and the tax body was flexible, especially for startup businesses. 

“The government does not have any strict measures that are hindering us, and the tax body is not very strict so when you have an arrangement with them and you are able to pay your liabilities, you will not encounter any issues," he stated. 

Additionally, he revealed that Uganda had adequate fertile land presenting many unexplored opportunities for farming and construction. 

Ndung'u added that there were many Kenyans who imported fruits and other foodstuffs from Uganda to sell in Kenya and made good money from the business. 

“I can tell people to come and venture into the construction industry here because it is not exploited enough. Also, there is land. If you want to do farming, you can still come and start your business here. 

"If you want to do real estate like selling houses, you can still do well here because the market is unexplored. Other businesses that are doing well are grains, foodstuff, and clothing. I see a lot of people coming here to get pineapples and watermelons to sell them in Kenya," he explained. 

The businessman noted that many Kenyan businesses especially startups failed because of frustrations by the government adding that there ought to be room for them to make mistakes as they grew. 

“Kenya can become a better place for business if the tax body in Kenya can improve and stop harassing businessmen, especially startups because when you are a startup, you are bound to make mistakes and learn from them," added Ndung'u. 

Challenges of Running a Business in Uganda

The CEO, however, disclosed that some of the challenges that businesses faced in Uganda included an inexperienced workforce and difficulty penetrating the market as foreigners. He stated that his company had to train their employees to get the results they needed.

"The workforce in Uganda is quite different and not that well experienced so there is a challenge of getting experienced workers. We have to do a lot of in-house training to get people who are going to work on what we want and deliver," he noted. 

An aerial view of Kampala in Uganda.
An aerial view of Kampala in Uganda.
Destination Uganda
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