Entrepreneurs in Africa
How Patrick Bitature broke the Backbone of Poverty through Entrepreneurship
I have been studying successful people for a long time. Today, I will be telling the story of a very very successful man from Uganda.
He is the Founder and chairman of Simba Group of Companies, a conglomerate with investment in Telecom’s, mining, real-estate and energy. He was named the second richest man in Uganda by Forbes and He is also the co-owner of Protea Hotels, a 5-star hotel located in Kampala.
His name is Patrick Bitature. He was born on May 10, 1960, as the first born to a middle-class family.
Early Life and Education
Patrick Bitature’s father was murdered when he was 13 years old. This sad loss happened during the inglorious reign of Idi Amin. Patrick quickly became the bread winner of the family and had to take care of the family.
Patrick didn’t neglect his education. He acquired his O’level education in Namasagali college in Kamuli district. In fact, Patrick and his siblings were mentored by Father Damies Grimes.
He later acquired his A-level education in Nyakasura school in Fort Portal and went on to study Accountancy in the London School of Accountancy. He later joined the institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators.
The Turning Point
The turning point in Patrick’s life came one night when they were about having dinner and the whole family were seated on a mat. It was their first time to have tea without sugar.
His mother told the family that they just have to get used to the no-sugar situation. The youngest brother started to cry about the loss of his father.
After sometime, his mother joined and was begging God to just take their lives. They were six children in the family.
It was then that Patrick took his destiny into his hands and went to Kenya that same night to look for sugar.
The next day, he returned with a 15kg suitcase full of sugar. The whole family were happy when they saw him. As his mother ran to hug him, he knew he was no longer a boy. He had become a man.
After the neighbours heard that he travelled to Kenya to get sugar, they almost begged to buy some. So he had to sell half of the sugar and got four times the amount he used in buying it.
The same week, he was on a bus to Kenya to buy more sugar and that was how the sugar business started. He would travel by bus to Kenya to buy bags of sugar and sell them in Uganda
From selling sugar, he started selling ladies dresses and shirts, then mobile phones and airtime, then shoes, then he moved into night club business.
In 1998, Patrick and his wife started a company name Simba Telecom Limited.
This company is presently the largest seller of MTN airtime in Uganda after they became a franchisee of MTN Uganda. This same company that was birthed from the sale of selling sugar to neighbours now has more than 1,700 employees with a turnover of about $100m yearly.
Simba Group of Companies now has subsidiaries in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. Some of the companies include; Electromaxx Limited, Kampala Protea Hotel, Simba Telecoms Limited, Simba Mining Limited, Tororo Solar Power Station, Simba Diary Farm.
Patrick is also known as a philanthropist. He has a charity organization called Patrick and Carol Bitature Foundation, focusing on life-saving health care initiatives and education.
Also, there is the Patrick Bitature Entrepreneurship Competition which was initiated by the Makere University Business School Entrepreneurship Club to nurture young talent through competition.
He was invited by Makere University Business School (MUBS) to speak to the 2015 graduating class. Here is an excerpt of his speech to the graduating students after he had finished telling them his story;
“Do you know what it is to live without a door lock on the front of your house or not to have a bathroom door that actually closed? That is the loss of dignity. I had to restore our dignity and family self esteem.
Do you really know the importance of jobs to society? After 6 years in senior school, and 3 years at Uni, if you then spend the next 3 years looking for a job, knocking at so many doors and walking till the soles of your shoes are gone. With your now tattered CV in your hand. Your self esteem will no doubt diminish.
I encourage many of you to go out there and start up a business that creates jobs. We need young people who will find a creative idea or a solution to a problem, grab the opportunity, take the risk, by setting up a businesses that will provide jobs and profit for tomorrow.
Get a job if that’s the best option open to you, for not everyone can start a business. Take the job and work as hard as you can. Learn everything these companies can teach you-and build a network of contacts and friends, then leave whilst you still have the energy!”
He then went on to say;
“If you dream of creating something great, do not let a 9-to-5 job – even a high- paying one – dull you into a complacent, comfortable life. Let that high-paying job propel you towards building a business for yourself instead.”
He is married to Carol Bitature and together they with four children.
Key Lessons from Patrick Bitature’s Story.
1. No matter your situation, success is your duty and responsibility.
2. You were born poor does not mean you must die poor. You have the right to turn the wheel.
Are you turning your wheel as often as possible?
© 2016, Arise Arizechi. All rights reserved.
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