I will quickly tell you something about making money because having money is crucial for success. Of course you can be successful even without money. You can sit in a corner and say, “I am successful.” It’s up to you.
My interest is in seeing you get rich and in my view, there are largely 4 ways of making serious money that you can have and say, “I am successful.”
1) First, you can own a successful business. This an easy way to make money. If you are employed and you think you are going to be very rich from employment, you are just joking; it will not work. However, running a business is taxing. You think about it all the time; you carry it in your head; you go to bed with worries. And of course we know that several businesses fail. Of the 500,000 businesses that are being registered or not registered formally, that are starting up in Uganda every year, almost 80% of them fail in the first year. That doesn’t stop them from starting up again the following year. Hence, business is one of the ways to become successful but it demands a lot of time, hard work, skill and a lot of other variables. Anything can go wrong or right in that business. You’ve got to horn your skill in it.
2) Another way of making money is through property. This is a classic vehicle of creating wealth worldwide. It has lasted since time immemorial. It has always been and shall always be. Many people talk about it but do nothing about it. But if you want to become wealthy, you have got to get into investing in land and buildings. But don’t go in and get out very quickly. Go in and stay for a long time. You must have the stamina to stay in there. The longer you stay the more your properties will generally appreciate and that’s where you will make your money.
At one time, the government was selling houses at 100 million shillings each in Nakasero and Kololo. It was largely colonial people and government officials who had been staying in these houses. All these people wanted was goodwill and the goodwill was at 100 million shillings. I didn’t have enough money so I started borrowing. I managed to buy 10 properties in Nakasero and 10 in Kololo. I started paying back the loan. And the whole town was talking, “Oh, Bitature is finished. He borrowed almost a billion shillings.” *True, I was getting worried; my wife was on my case. I was struggling with the interest. But eventually, I managed to finish paying back.* Today, any property on one acre in Nakasero is going for 1.5 million dollars plus. *Now who is laughing at who?*
Investing in properties is a magical way of making money; there is nothing like it. People think, “Bitature made a lot of money in telecoms.” I probably have made more money in property in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. As someone aiming for success, you’ve got to be able to see a chance and take it. I saw mine in properties and I grabbed it. *Once you’ve succeeded, even the banks that were making it hard to lend you money will begin begging you, “Sir, how much do you want to take?’’*
3) The third way of making money is through the stock market. It’s not yet fully developed in Uganda; it’s a new phenomenon in our region. We have only 8 Ugandan companies listed on the stock exchange. Some are cross-listed from Kenya. But this vehicle has made fortunes for people all over the world. Unfortunately, in the past some people have lost money through buying shares in some companies and so they are shy. But all said and done, don’t look short-term. Overall, the stock market always works. And don’t think you don’t have enough money to invest in the stock market; a million shillings is all it takes. Take your one million and invest it.
When you invest in shares, don’t be on a hurry to get out your money; just like properties, first stay in. I am a director at New Vision and I always advise my shareholders not to take so much in dividends but rather to leave the money and let it first grow. When we had just bought shares, some of them were insisting that since we had made a big profit we should share our dividends. I said let’s re-invest the profit and build the value of the shares. Those shares have moved from 300 shillings per share to over 1,300. That is more than 4 times. So the one who put in 1 million has made over 4 million in less than a year without doing anything. Some people think it’s like a lottery but it’s not. It’s just a smart way of making money. There is a lot of money to be made in stocks and the market is just opening up. So let’s get enlightened and start making money that way.
4) Everything about money is about numbers but the maths you need is the simple times table; one up to twelve. The rest – A’ level maths, university maths – is all useless when it comes to creating wealth. Just remember your basic maths; simple percentages and formulas. Of course reading also helps to nature the brain. I talk about social IQ. As for the academic IQ, it stops there. There are many educated people with 3 degrees but who have got nothing to present as security for themselves and their families. Go to Makerere and ask 60-year-old professors if they own houses. It is sad that some of them still have mortgages or haven’t even thought of owning houses at all. And for some who have taken a step to own houses, they’ve built or acquired residential houses, which doesn’t make them assets because they are not bringing in income. I think that is getting priorities wrong.
Work hard and invest, let us dream big and take risks.