After a day packed with activities, we found ourselves at Protea Hotel Kampala, a 5-star hotel located in the upmarket suburb of Kololo. This hotel is owned by Mr. Patrick Bitature, a close friend of Drake University, and we were here to hear him speak of entrepreneurship.
Patrick Bitature is a Ugandan businessman, entrepreneur, and industrialist. He is one of the wealthiest people in Uganda, having a net worth in excess of $50 million. In 2012 Forbes magazine named Mr. Bitature one of five Ugandan multi-millionaires you should know. Bitature is the founder and chairman of Simba Telecom, East Africa’s largest mobile phone retailer. He has expanded his businesses into broadcasting, electronics, insurance, banking, hotels, and resorts. He chairs the Uganda Investment Authority and Umeme, an energy distribution firm.
Drake University’s relationship with Mr. Bitature has been through his facilitation of an “Entrepreneurship in Uganda” talk for Drake’s sustainable development seminar since the initiation of the program 8 years ago.
Mr. Bitature gave a speech titled “How to Start a Successful Business.” He began by stressing the importance of seizing opportunities while you’re young and not being afraid to take risk. A theme of his talk was the idea that 20 is the new 30; there needs to be an effective way to form a connection between the youth and everyone else.
Mr. Bitature commended us for taking the bold step of traveling to Africa. He believes that migration is the key to success, and the most successful people have become successful because they have been able to leave their comfort zone. I think we could all agree that coming to Uganda has placed us in some uncomfortable situations; however they are situations we are learning much from.
Mr. Bitature’s presentation was mostly business-oriented. He talked about what it takes to become successful: motivation, application, the ability to say no, persistence, differentiation, the ability to take risk, and knowledge of how to SELL. He was very inspiring to listen to and even managed to work humor into his talk. He put a lot of emphasis on making profit. Hearing of his failures as well as his successes was interesting, especially since it is easy to assume that a man who has achieved so much hasn’t faced much rejection. Mr. Bitature has stayed very loyal to Uganda, donating enormous amounts of money every year to help his country and its development. His partnership with Drake University is something we treasure, so being able to meet with him was a great opportunity and allowed us to become acquainted with the man making our travel abroad experience possible.
After the presentation we were welcomed to dinner at the hotel. I think all of us agreed the dessert selection was the highlight of the day. ;)
Students – How did you feel after hearing Mr. Bitature speak? Do you think entrepreneurship is the key to moving Uganda toward sustainability? Which of the 3 tiers of sustainability is most easily achieved through entrepreneurship?