The United Graduate College and Seminary International of Tennesse, US has awarded an honorary doctorate degree to Goodra Tumusiime Behakanira, for her exemplary performance and contribution to the business sector at Serena Hotel in Kampala on Saturday.Goodra Behakanira (R) after receiving her doctorate
His Excellency Prof. Clyde Rivers PhD the chief chancellor of the college awarded to Goodra and 16 others for an exemplary contribution to society, including the business sector that has inspired many people including young women into business and entrepreneurial sector and helped build the Ugandan economy bringing about global good.
Goodra, an orphan hailing from an impoverished home in Kabale District almost failed to go to school due to financial constraints at an early age. But later ended up a teacher, she was not content and so opted to join business.
Using savings from her previous job, she opened a general merchandise shop in Kabale in 1985. She later ventured into second hand clothes and made a kill of money. Goodra later expanded her business dealing with Rwandans, Congolese and Kenyans, increasing her capital investment in the process.
“With the political stability by the NRM government, in 1991, I was encouraged to expand. I opened a wholesale in Kikuubo in Kampala. And imported mattresses, beer and soda from Kisumu in Kenya. Six years later when local factories started making those products they became unprofitable. So I shut down the shop and ventured into textiles,” Goodra said.
With her husband, the late Joseph Behakaniira, they set up the multi-billion shillings Avemar Shopping Mall.
“What I had in mind was providing affordable shops for especially women to sell in. This venture paid off and also I managed to forge good working relations with government and the tax authority that guided me a lot on taxation processes,” Goodra explained.
After establishing numerous businesses and properties, they sought for other investment opportunities and ventured into security business. They registered Snow White Security Limited which employs 150 guards.
“We sold the land where Garden City sits and built J and M Airport Road Hotel. That construction work employed 500 people. Unfortunately my husband died five years after its opening. But I never gave up but continued with the business.” Goodra added remorsefully.
Although she was denied a license to establish St. Joseph International University in Entebbe she decided to start a shopping mall now called Joma Supermarket in Bwebajja on Entebbe Road. Targeting mainly travellers to and from the airport.
It is not all about business with Goodra, she is a philanthropist with a heart. “I am a very religious Catholic woman. I take pride in building catholic churches and Virgin Mary grottos all over the country, sponsoring seminarians (most of whom join priesthood) and nuns for further studies,” she revealed.
Goodra now runs The Behakanira Foundation which provides educational and scholastics assistance to less advantaged children to enable them earn an education that she never had herself.
Goodra Tumusiime Behakanira was honoured as the best woman entrepreneur of 2009 by the Uganda Women Entrepreneurs Association Limited (UWEAL) and was among those President Yoweri Museveni awarded the Nalubale Medal in 2014.
“I am very grateful that a university in the US could really recognise my efforts, I expected that higher institutions in Uganda would take note of my efforts first.”Goodra said.
The function was attended by Prof. Mondo Kagonyera Chancellor Makerere University, Sudhir Ruperelia, among others.