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Mukwano: Uganda’s lion in business goes to sleep; his legacy continues on in our homes and lives

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Mukwano Group’s products are said to touch over 90% of Uganda’s households everyday.

As you read this, you are probably sipping on a cup of Mukwano Tea or your breakfast omelette and or bread and if not your lunch snacks were made by any of the numerous Mukwano Group cooking oils and baking fat brands that include, Mukwano Vegetable Oil,  Roki, Sunseed, Mukwano Soyabean Cooking oil and Tamu Cooking Fat.

If you are not into fried stuff, you will probably later grab a bottle of Mukwano Group’s Aqua Sipi mineral water, all the while putting on clothes, recently washed with any of Mukwano’s bar soaps, such as Mukwano Star White, Chapa Nyota, Chapa Mukwano, Mama, Mukwano Bright Soap or Nomi, their detergent powder brand.

And if your home does not use any of Mukwano Group’s 150 Eagle Rock branded industrial and plastic domestic items that range from kitchen ware, garden furniture and multipurpose crates, at least your kitchenware is washed using their Supa and Shibe multipurpose cleaning products.

Better still your children used the famous MUkwano Jelly on their skin after this morning’s shower.

And if you are into farming, you could probably have used their Shamba or Mufigo animal feeds.

Such is the legacy left behind by Mzee Amirali Karmali, the founder of the Mukwano Group, that it is said that the Group touches about 90% of Ugandan households every day. The Group also has its tentacles and impact spread, outside Uganda, to include: Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, South Sudan, DR Congo, Rwanda, MAuritius, Thailand, Switzerlad and India. 

The businessman, died quietly on Wednesday evening in Fort portal, Kabarole District, according to family sources.

Persistent visionary and hardworking family

Said to have been born in the 1930s is the father to Alykhan Karmali, who now runs the family business empire that cuts across manufacturing, agriculture, logistics & supply chain, property development, banking.

The late Amirali Karmali himself, is a second generation Karmali; his father, a one Alimohamed Karmali, having landed on the East African coast around 1904 and made his way to Uganda and settled in Fort Portal in western Uganda.

Inside Acacia Mall, one of the group’s real estate developments

It is said that his good humannaturedness it was his good relations with locals that earned Alimohamed the nickname Mukwano, which means friendship in Luganda. 

Alimohamed would later start a small business which, in the 1960s, gave birth to the transport business that would be run by his son, Amirali Karmali, who later later shifted his base to Kampala.

One of the few Asians who stayed behind after Idi Amin Dada’s infamous expulsion of the Indians and the subsequent bloody rule, Mzee Karmali persevered the misrule that would follow Idi Amin’s overthrow.

It was not until, the late 1980s, after peace was restored that Mzee Amirali set up Mukwano Industries that has, according to the group website “through visionary diversification into manufacturing, agriculture, property development, logistics, supply-chain management and packaging as well as financial services” grown to become the multi-sectoral conglomerate that it is today that employs over 7,000 people.

A son to one of the Mukwano Group’s employees, eulogise the late Amirali Karmali on Twitter. The Group employs up to 7,000 people

The group is also among Uganda’s top 10 tax payers.

Some of the group’s subsidiaries, according to Wikipedia, include: •          AK Transporters Uganda Limited;a fully licensed and equipped logistics and transport company with over 200 light, medium and heavy transport trucks.

  1. Gulf Stream Investments Limited; a bulk liquid-storage terminal within the port area of Mombasa, Kenya. The terminal can store close to 26,000 metric tonnes of vegetable oils, oil derivatives and related chemicals in dedicated tanks.
  2. Rwenzori Commodities Ltd; Started in January 1993, Rwenzori Commodities Ltd owns over 5,700 hectares of tea and four tea factories namely, Buzirasagama, Hiima, Munobwa and Kigumba with a capacity of 200,000 kgs of green leaf or 47,000 kgs made tea per day. The company also recently entered into a partnership with Portal Avocados, a new establishment that will be growing Hass Avocados in the vicinity of the group’s tea plantations in Fort Portal.
  3. Exim Bank (Uganda); a retail commercial bank jointly owned with Exim Bank (Tanzania). The bank in 2018, had assets in excess of UGX276 billion.
  4. Lira Maize Factory Limited; located in Lira, Lira District, Northern Uganda.
  5. Lira Oil Mill Limited; which produces in excess of 25,000 tons of oil annually, from sunflower and cottonseed, since 2007.
  6. Mukwano Agro Projects Limited; which consists of over 17,000 acres (27 sq mi) of maize, soybeans, sunflower, and simsim.
  7. Mukwano AK Plastics; which manufactures household and industrial plastic products.
  8. Mukwano Industries Limited; a manufacturer of edible oil, soaps, cleaning products, sanitary products, household and industrial plastic products, bottled water and energy drinks. 
  9. Nationwide Properties Limited; a real-estate development company that builds commercial and residential properties. Nationwide is a joint venture between the Mukwano Group and Property Services Limited, a real estate management firm in Uganda.
  10. Riley Packaging Limited; the largest producer of packaging materials in East Africa, a joint venture between Mukwano Group and Raps Limited, another Ugandan company. The factory, estimated at US$13 million, is located in Mukono on the Kampala-Jinja Highway.
  11. Royal Palms Housing Estate; A gated residential community, located at Butabika, 9 kilometres (5.6 mi), by road, southeast of the central business district of Kampala, on the shores of Lake Victoria.

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The CEO 100

Meet Paddy Muramiirah, the man spearheading Crown Beverages’ aggressive comeback

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Muramiirah has grown Pepsi's turnover in Uganda by 52% from UGX228.7bn in 2016 to UGX347.9 billion at the end of 2018. During his time, profit has grown by 222% from UGX9.1 billion to UGX29.3 billion. He has reduced the sales gap between Pepsi and Coca Cola from a historic high of UGX154.7 billion in 2016 to UGX78.8 billion

Engineers; Mechanical Engineers at that, rarely make it to the top leadership levels, unless of course it is an engineering firm.

For brands in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) categories such as soft drinks or alcohol where the flamboyance and exuberance of the brands is one and the same with that of the brand guardians, the top jobs have often been reserved for marketers and sales people and every once in a while, CEOs with a finance background.

Not that there is anything wrong with the Engineers, but somehow, since the marketers are already customer facing, it is easy to keep it that way. In fact one, can in Jesus’ speak say, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for an engineer to become a star-performing CEO of an FMCG brand.

Such was the mythical pessimism that greeted Crown Beverages’ Paddy Muramiirah, when he was appointed Chief Executive Officer in November 2016.

Muramiirah has grown Pepsi’s turnover in Uganda by 52% from UGX228.7bn in 2016 to UGX347.9 billion at the end of 2018.

But Amos Nzeyi, the Executive Chairman and one of the company’s shareholders, knew better. While announcing Muramiirah’s appointment then, he said, that he had emerged the best from a number of applicants because of his “his leadership, immense experience and knowledge” in the carbonated soft drinks industry as well as his “strong track record.”

“Mr. Muramiirah has demonstrated throughout his career the ability to work successfully, designing and leading strategies which resulted in impressive value creation. And given his credentials, I am certain he will make a significant contribution to the role and create the next chapter of CBL’s story of success; Mr. Nzeyi said.

Crown Beverages is 100% Ugandan owned. Its range of carbonated soft drinks includes: Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Mirinda Fruity, Mirinda Orange, Mirinda Pineapple, Mirinda Green Apple, 7UP, Evervess Tonic and Nivana Water in four variants namely; Tangerine, Strawberry, still and sparkling. The products are available in returnable glass bottles and plastic/PET bottles

Creating value and the next chapter of CBL’s story of success

Muramiirah, a Mechanical Engineer by training, joined CBL in 2005 as the head of operations and rose through the ranks. He has also overseen the company’s aggressive production expansion throughout the years.

At the time Muramiirah becme CEO, CBL was year in, year out, losing ground to their archrivals, Century Bottling Company Limited the bottlers of Coca Cola. For example between 2013 and 2016, while Crown Beverages’  Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) in sales turnover was 4%, Century Bottling was growing at an average 6%, thus widening the space and share of wallet gaps between the 2 cola archrivals who between them control an estimate 80% of the soda market in Uganda.

The confidence of a star-performing CEO

In 2013, while Century Bottling sold UGX302 billion worth of drinks, Crown Beverages sold UGX195.4 billion- a variance of UGX106.6 billion. Century made a UGX13 billion profit, while Crown made UGX15.4 billion. In 2014, the sales turnover gap widened to UGX115.1 billion, as Century sold UGX346.4 billion and Crown Beverages UGX231.3 billion. Both companies made UGX7.3bn in profit. 

(Left-Right): CBL CEO, PAddy Muramiirah, FInance State Minister, David Bahati and CBL CEO, Amos Nzeyi display the award

In 2015, Century sold UGX384.3bn while Crown turned over UGX240 billion- widening the market share gap by UGX144.3 billion. That year Crown made a trifle UGX 100 million in profit, while Century made a handsome UGX20.2 billion in net revenue- their highest in recent history, if not the highest ever!

In 2016, the year Muramiirah was appointed CEO, both companies slowed down in turnover- Century by .23% to UGX383.4 billion and Crown Beverages by 4.7% to UGX228.7- creating an even wider gap between the two companies’ sales turnover of UGX154.7 billion- the highest ever in the companies’ history in Uganda.

Crown however made a profit of UGX9.11 billion and Century UGX2.5bn.

Under Paddy Muramiirah, profit has grown by 222% from UGX9.1 billion to UGX29.3 billion.

Within the first few weeks on the job, Muramiirah oversaw the company’s biggest shakeup, letting go of several senior managers and went on to shock naysayers, by making a 28% come back in 2017 sales turnover to UGX291.8 billion while Coca Cola’s only grew 3% from UGX383.4 billion to UGX394.5- reducing the gap between the 2 companies from UGX154.7bn to UGX 102.7bn- the lowest in 5 years.

Profit also grew by 69% from UGX9.1bn to UGX15.4 billion. Coca Cola on the other hand had profits turn to losses- from a profit of UGX2.5bn in 2016 to a loss of UGX800 million.

2018 saw yet another good year for Crown Beverages- a 19% growth in turnover, from UGX291.8 billion in 2017 to UGX347.9 billion. Century on the other hand grew by 8% from UGX394.5bn to UGX426.7bn and as a result the gap between the 2 rivals further shrunk, this time to UGX78.8bn- a historic low in over 5 years.

Crown Beverages also had, their most profitable year to date- UGX29.3 billion in profit, up 90.3% from the previous year.

The smile of a champion

Thanks to this great performance, in June, 2019, the company won the PepsiCo Europe and Sub-Saharan African (ESSA) Bottler of the Year 2018 award. The company was also named the 1st Runner Up for the global PepsiCo Bottler of the Year award, beating over 200 other PepsiCo bottlers from all over the world.   

Speaking at the ceremony to mark the milestones, Mr. Amos Nzeyi, the Chairman CBL commended the company’s customers, staff, shareholders, partners and the government for their contribution to the success.  

“The journey has just started,” Mr. Nzeyi notified whoever cared to listen.

About Crown Beverages

Crown Beverages’ is a franchisee bottler for PepsiCo Inc. in Uganda that bottles a range of carbonated soft drinks that include: Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Mirinda Fruity, Mirinda Orange, Mirinda Pineapple, Mirinda Green Apple, 7UP and Evervess Tonic. The products are available in returnable glass bottles and plastic/PET bottles.

They also bottle Nivana water in four variants namely; Tangerine, Strawberry, Still and Sparkling.

The company is 100% Ugandan owned; by Amos Nzeyi, Chris Kayoboke and Prof Maggie Kigozi, who in 1997 bought a 51% stake from South Africa’s International Pepsi-Cola Bottler Investments and in  2001, acquired the remaining 49%.

The shareholders have since invested over $200 million (Ugx740 billion) in the business to date, creating the company into one of Uganda’s top 20 taxpayers. According to Muramiirah in a recent media interview, the company has between 2013 and 2018 paid a total of UGX284 billion in taxes.

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The CEO 100

Orient Bank’s Julius Kakeeto to head Post Bank

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(R-L): Julius Kakeeto, MD of Orient Bank Limited together with Alhaj Kaddunabbi Ibrahim Lubega, CEO Insurance Regulatory Authority, Herbert Mukoza, General Manager IAA and Arjun Mallik, MD Prudential East Africa on July 24, officially unveil Medilife, a new medical and life insurance cover for Orient Bank customers. Kakeeto has spearheaded a number of innovation at Orient Bank, that have contributed to the bank’s stable growth and return to profitability.  

Julius Kakeeto, formerly Orient Bank Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, is set to head the troubled Post Bank, CEO East Africa Magazine has learnt.

Kakeeto is to replace troubled Managing Director, Steven Mukweli who is facing corruption charges at the Anti-Corruption Court. Mukweli along with 7 other senior officials at the government owned Post Bank were charged with abuse of office, causing financial loss and conspiracy to defraud their employer.

The officers are: Safina Wabuna, the Executive Director for Information and Communication Technology (ICT), David Mwesige, the Head of Information Technology, Augustine Kisitu, the Head of Business Technology and Emmanuel Mwaka, the Finance Manager. Also charged are: Alex Kayaayo (Executive Director for Credit and Business Growth), Fred Samuel Wasike (Head of Business Growth) and Gilbert Nuwamanya (Sales Manager).

CEO East Africa Magazine, understands that Kakeeto has already sent in this resignation at Orient Bank and a farewell message to staff and is serving his notice period.

A highly placed source at Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, under whose docket Post Bank falls, also confirmed to CEO East Africa Magazine that indeed Kakeeto is crossing over to Post Bank.

“Off the record, I can confirm that his name has been submitted to Bank of Uganda for approval,” said the source.

Section 54 of the Financial Institutions Act (2004) requires all bank board directors to undergo a fit and proper test, carried out by the Central Bank.

Who is Julius Kakeeto?

Little is known about the largely press-shy Kakeeto, but according to research done by this publication, he wields more than 19 years in banking.

Kakeeto turned around Orient Bank from a UGX13.3 billion loss in 2014, bring about 4 years of straight profits

The Alliance Manchester Business School (MBA, Finance) and Strathmore University (ACCA) alumni started his banking career at the Citi Group in London in September 2001 and rose to the VP Global Markets position in London before returning home as Finance Director at Equity Bank in September 2009, a role he did till May 2011 when he moved on to become Director of Business Development at Orient Bank. Betweeen October 2013 and July 2014, he briefly served as the Executive Director before being appointed substantive Managing Director in July 2014- a role he has served for 5 years and 2 months.

(L-R): Prof. Waswa Balunywa, Makerere University Business School Principal together with Mr. Julius Kakeeto, Orient Bank’s Managing Director at the launch of the 3rd annual Orient Business Academy aimed at equipping small Ugandan business owners with skills to enable them grow their businesses and ensure sustainability.

During his 5 years at the helm of Orient Bank, deposits grew by over 59% from the UGX388.1 billion he inherited to UGX618 billion by close of December 2018- a compounded annual growth rate of 10%. Lending grew by 147.5% over the 5 years from UGX135 billion in 2014 to UGX334.1 billion at end of 2018- an annual growth rate of 201%. Total bank asset book also grew by about 56% from UGX480.8 billion to UGX750 billion at end of 2019.

As a result he managed to turnaround the UGX13.3 billion losses he inherited in 2014, making a profit of UGX1.5 billion in 2015, UGX5.8 billion in 2016, UGX4.8 billion in 2017, closing 2018 with a UGX5.6 billion profit.

Little is known about his package at Post Bank but at Orient Bank, his monthly salary was a reported UGX44,580,000.

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Speke Resort and Commonwealth Resort Munyonyo staff recognised for excellent customer care

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Tom Byahunga the Restaurant Manager at Commonwealth Resort Munyonyo and Speke Resort Munyonyo and colleague Jovia a house-keeping room attendant, at the hotel. Their story of exceptional customer care has caught the attention of tourism sector players

For Tom Byahunga the Restaurant Manager at Commonwealth Resort Munyonyo and Speke Resort Munyonyo and his colleague Jovia a house-keeping room attendant, Wednesday August 21, 2018 was a normal day like others.

Little did they know that great service, offered to customers as part of their normal routine, would give them a day in the sun.

That day, a customer that had not only been a beneficiary of their great service but also had noticed the hotel’s general great service to customers, penned nearly a full page article in The New Vision, Uganda’s leading daily, attracting the attention of the whole tourism sector to their acts of hard work, dedication and professionalism.

This writer was none, other than Dr Opiyo Oloya, a Ugandan born Ugandan-born educator, author, broadcaster, music-lover and journalist, who currently resides in Canada where he is the Superintendent of Schools, York Catholic District School Board.

Writing in The New Vision, Dr. Opio observed:

“Just a scant three weeks ago, at Speke Resort Munyonyo I witnessed staff handle deftly (skilfully) with panache (elegance) a small incident involving a guest. It was morning and many guests were streaming to and from the dining room for breakfast. At the reception, I overheard a guest complaining there had been some misunderstanding in the dining room. After breakfast, she had asked for a finger of sweet banana to take for the road, but the request was not fulfilled. She was clearly unhappy about it, and mentioned it more than once. One of the attending staff immediately went to the dining room to find out what happened.

In the meantime, the shuttle pulled up to the front of the hotel to take the lady to wherever she was going. She reluctantly went into the vehicle, still muttering about the banana. As the shuttle pulled away, the staff who had gone to the dining room rushed back carrying a small bundle — several fingers of banana neatly packaged. The shuttle was already picking up speed and, if this had been the old days, the staff member would have let the matter rest there.

But this was not the old days and so the staff member chased at top speed after the shuttle. He stopped the vehicle and when the door opened, profusely apologised to the lady and handed her the bundle of bananas.

I was too far to see the expression on the face of the guest, but I could only imagine she was grateful she got her banana. Importantly, whatever harsh opinion she was beginning to form about Speke Resort Munyonyo dissolved away in the face of the amends made by the quick action of the staff.

Later the same day, when I met the Assistant General Manager of Speke Resorts, Akhilesh Malik, I told him about the incident. I let him know that it may have been a small thing, but for the guest it was a big thing.

I let him know that staff response to this incident and throughout my stay have been extremely impressive, sensitive and alert to the needs of guests.

The staff were invariably courteous and made every guest feel as if the entire hotel’s resources were mobilised just for their individual personal comfort. And. I added, it may explain why Speke Resort continues to pull in guests when some big hotels in Kampala have become deserted skeletal ghosts of past glories.

Indeed, I let Malik know I was extremely happy with my own stay at the hotel. From Jovia, the maid who cleaned my room daily and who took care of my valuables to waiters like Tom who ensured there was local Maziwa Lala (yogurt) for breakfast.”  

Dr Opio Oloya’s testimony has caught the attention of many a player, including Lilly Ajarova, Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) Chief Executive Office who took to her twitter account to extol the duo as “tourism heroes of the day”.

Speke Resort’s Tom Byahunga (Restaurant Manager) & Jovia, house-keeping room attendant were mentioned in this impassioned article by Dr Opiyo Oloya in The New Vision for their for their exceptional customer care. To all the Toms & Jovias out there, I salute you all,” she wrote.

The duo were also recognised by the Hotel’s Manager, Akhilesh Malik with a token of appreciation.

Commonwealth Resort Munyonyo and Speke Resort Munyonyo are some of Uganda’s most awarded hotels.

Commonwealth Resort Munyonyo and Speke Resort Munyonyo won the coveted 2018 World Luxury Hotel Awards country and regional categories respectively.  Speke Resort Munyonyo was also recognized as the best Service and Luxury Business Hotel – in the 4th edition of the Ekkula Pearl of Africa Tourism Awards, while Dr. Sudhir, the hotel’s proprietor was recognised as a Lifetime Tourism Achiever.

While attending the Africa Now Conference 2019 Africa’s 8th richest person- billionaire Strive Masiyiwa, was visibly impressed by the expansive Speke Resort Munyonyo and the adjoining Commonwealth Resort and said the place should be “the official African Conference Centre.”

“Why don’t we declare this venue; this site, the official African Conference Centre. I go all over Africa to conferences and in big hotels and we go to the basements and we come to this amazing venue…thank you very much for organizing it. I will come every year if you want,” added an elated Masiyiwa, before a smiling President Yoweri Museveni and several other guests.

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