#OutToLunch Here is how to be a successful Ugandan businessman
By Denis Jjuuko
Wake up every day with the media on your mind and do anything possible to appear in the media being promoted as the biggest thing ever to happen to Uganda since independence. Don’t necessarily say exactly what you do. Businessman is enough. Just dress the part and drive a nice car.
Ensure that your children, wife and even siblings live large, sometimes larger than even yourself. Their friends can throw a party at your hotel or house any time. Holidays in the most exotic of places are a must. Kids should go to school at St Andrew’s Turi or St Andrew’s in Grahamstown after which they can join some university in Europe or north America. When they return, start them some businesses and get them condos in Kololo so the parties can continue. For cars, throw in a BMW X6 or Merc with BlueTec fuel systems.
Introduce them to your friends’ children so that they marry “right.” Then join the motivational speaking circuit and give ted-talks on how to raise entrepreneurial children. Appear at Yiiya Ssente shows and castigate everyone for not being smart in their works.
Refer to the 1970s and 1980s and how life was hard. How Amin’s soldiers ransacked your mother’s stall in Wandegeya and left the family so poor that you ate one cup of porridge a week that didn’t even have sugar. Mention how you had to grow up fast so you could look after your siblings including those who were older than you.
Invoke God’s name and how lucky you have been to be where you are but also mention that it is because of integrity and honesty that you have made it in life. Speak all the good English in the world.
When you visit the bank, spend a few minutes asking the teller how much they make and whether they wouldn’t fancy a job abroad that pays five times what they earn. Once they have your ear after a few more visits, ask them to give you the money so you can process their passports and visas. Keep on asking for more money until you realize that they can’t give anymore and then abandon that branch and bank. To insulate yourself, pose for photos with some military generals!
Hold meetings only in 5-star hotels and fancy restaurants. Arrive there with a driver-cum-personal-assistant who after parking your sleek European or American brand car comes to the restaurant where you are seated and after your next victims have taken their seats to deliver your designer leather bag that has your iPad and note book embossed with the initials of your name. Order for sushi or dishes with exotic names or the most expensive stuff but ensure your bill is paid by the guys you are about to defraud.
When it comes to flying, only business class makes sense and ensure everyone gets to know about it by frequently walking from business class to economy (in planes where it is possible) to talk to someone there for a few minutes. Talk as big and loud as possible. Thrown in quotations from Warren Buffet or Jeff Bezos or Barack Obama. Mention your last meeting at State House. Have an idea about the war in Ukraine and its impact on food prices. Know a thing or two about the Kenyan elections or the depreciation of the shillings against the dollar. Take a photo with anyone with a big name you can ever meet. Create a huge following on social media.
Arrive at public fundraisers late. You are the guest of honor after all. Recall how you didn’t want to attend but your wife reminded you of how lucky you are and you felt so guilty. Mention a colossal sum of money as your family’s contribution. And as you leave, grant permission to everyone who wants a selfie.
When payment time comes after a few months of hide and seek, invite a few members of the fundraising committee to your office and inform them that the figure you mentioned was simply to spur others to contribute more. It was part of fundraising tricks used the world over, you are even surprised they didn’t know it. Swing in the chair in your wood paneled office and intercom your secretary to give these guys just 10% of what you had promised and what the newspapers had reported.
Next step is the bank or lenders with tonnes of money. Inform them about your projects, show them all your newspaper clippings. It could be a fancy hotel or soccer stadium. Make sure they are foreign. Once the money is in, cut off contact and when they go to court, use a loophole in the law that they lent you money illegally as they were not legally registered in Uganda. When you are cornered, quickly issue a statement calling them fake people who want to spoil your reputation and good name, which you swear to dying protecting.
The writer is a communication and visibility consultant. firstname.lastname@example.org