Amid job scarcity, entrepreneurship is rising. Most young people fresh from university and armed with creative minds are heading straight into starting their businesses. In Uganda the startup segment is fast-growing, with a number of successes that have grown into big enterprises.
Keneth Twesigye, a 26-year-old entrepreneur, has worked extremely hard to become one of Uganda’s most successful young entrepreneurs. He is the founder and chief executive of TechBuzz Hub, a UGX20 million (annual revenues) company that offers co-working office space, startup incubation, startup consultancy, sapacity building and training and ICT support. He also owns First Fortune Ltd, a technology consultancy firm.
The CEO magazine talked to Twesigye about his dream of running a multi-million business empire.
Who is Kenneth Twesigye for someone who doesn’t know you out there?
My name is Kenneth Twesigye. I am 26. I am a Startup Consultant and Computer Scientist from UTAMU University. Raised and Educated from Uganda, I am from a family of three and raised by a single mother Busingye Bonny Mirembe. I am an entrepreneur inspired by both need and want. I needed supplementary finances to support my education that drove me to farming at a tender age and then, wanted to create a business empire, a vision I started on in 2013.
I own two companies; First Fortune Ltd and TechBuzz Hub a creative spaces social enterprise for entrepreneurs, startups, innovators and editors but will love to talk about TechBuzz Hub Mainly.
What was your journey like to get where you are?
I journeyed a trail of challenges but manned by ability to learn and positivity towards them. I have been though failures in Agriculture, Retail, software and web service ventures before I settled on what I call success trail now. There was also, intangible challenges like Fear of failure and discouragement from my peers and friends.
Despite all, I was always proactive platforms to develop my skills and capacities like; Rotaract Youth Leadership Awards, Agile summer camp always involved into leadership. Also, Striding along, small business management experience gathered from failed businesses like farming and trade since I was 11 years counts a lot to my entrepreneurial journey.
Starting up a business in Uganda does not seem easy especially for the youth of your age due to financial constraints, what was your source of capital and how much did you start with?
I started with UGX1.5 million, burned it in building the team and registration that I eventually realized was not worth spending on. Later started promoting the cause on social media and eventually fell into funding applications opportunity called the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme from which I secured UGX15 million that we injected in renting a much bigger co-working space for the first 6 months.
How do you see the company changing in two years, and how do you see yourself creating that change?
TechBuzz Hub will at the time be called TechBuzz Hubs. Our focus revolves around driving entrepreneurship and social innovation beyond the Ugandan market. And therefore, we started with opening virtual bureaus already with a few institutions as a pilot run after which we shall be launching Physical spaces in different Institutions and Places. Our partner entrepreneurs, startups and innovators shall have built more companies. However, our goal is to support fifty (50) startups every year by 2020.
Give me one word that describes you the best.
What are your goals?
As earlier said: Supporting more than 50 startups every year is our major goal. Other goals include; Extending our reach to regional levels and multinational reach. Also, developing quality content reusable by entrepreneurs and startups on the continent is another standard we are grooming.
What are your three biggest accomplishments so far?
Startup Facility Programme, a six months Training and Mentoring for entrepreneurs and startups
Fortnyt Series Programme, an experiential learning program that runs after every fourteen (14) days that have trained and inspired over 300 youth.
One fortune Software, That facilitates Mentoring and Training of human resources especially onboarding recruits or specialized training.
What other successful businessmen and women do you look up to?
From local to international scene, my role models are Patrick Bitature, chairman of Simba Telecom; Tony Elumelu, chairman of Heirs Holdings, Nigeria; and Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire-America
What has been the biggest let down in your business so far?
The biggest setback has been the challenge of finding sustainability model of operation running a support oriented enterprise.
How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
Running across all the then existing hubs, the model that was running was very expensive yet not clearly supportive for my Ideas particularly. I did a personal research as an innovator and realized a huge gap to fill which was developing a locally fit enterprise.
How many people does your company employ?
It directly employs four.
What service(s) or product(s) do you offer?
TechBuzz Hub offers co-working office space, startup incubation, startup consultancy, capacity building and training, and ICT support.
To what do you attribute your success?
Passion to follow my dream and vision.
What is unique about your business, since we see a lot of other startups coming up in Uganda of recent?
TechBuzz Hub is a creative collaborative co-working space. Our cutting edge uniqueness lies on the ability to integrate technology into business at an early stage. We are so far most affordable co-working space solution providing more support oriented solutions to startups.
What are your responsibilities as the business owner?
I am a team Lead at TechBuzz Hub in charge of Strategy, Programs development and Overseeing initiative that focus on building capacity for startups.
What made you choose this type of business, because many people have phobia for such technology related businesses?
Technology is an enabler of business. And as a young and developing startup ecosystem, understanding hoe to take advantage of technology will attribute to success of the highly failing startups rated at 90% failure rate.
Have you ever turned down a client?
Tough Question! I have done so, so many times. With TechBuzz Hub’s business, we front Value and Brand maintenance
What are some of the challenges that you have faced in the business?
Businesses challenges are constant. What you probably have heard from the previous interviews with entrepreneur is probably same with us. However, the biggest challenge is, startups approaching the hub looking for funding. On doing due diligence, not much these startups have had in place they seek funding for.
Also there is a challenge of Human Resources. It takes a long time to train a graduate moreover to deliver as expected yet as a company and startups, you be spending a lot on them.
Others include; Poor mindset of entrepreneurs, Unfavorable taxation policies for startups, high cost of operation.
If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
Solve and seize local challenges or problems first. I say this because we can best solve problems that we have been through. Innovation is not heavenly sent, so the more you understand the problem, the better you can creatively and innovatively solve it.