Njuki Moments

Monday, January 31, 2011

'how much would like to be paid, sir?'

You have been asked that question. May be. Depending on who is asking, answers differ. See, It’s a trick question. If you are at an interview they are just being nice, they don't really want to know! You don't believe me? Ask them now that you have the job. Okay, sometimes they really mean it. So give a reasonable answer.

I would have looked for the catch in the question if the phone had not rung that moment, and she calmly said into the receiver...'.I will call you back, I’m meeting the Consultant.'  That from my former boss too!
You don't seem to believe me, but I can show you the contract for that job. Right below where my signature lies is the actual word.. .’Consultant'. I didn't know what I had done, to be hired as a trainer/consultant but that eavesdropped conversation let me in on the fact that I was actually more important than I thought. It was only then,don't worry.

 Now, to the consultant's work. I thought I had 'escaped' teaching. I come from a family of teachers. But when I stood there in front of men and women fit to be my parents, they pitied me...and when I introduced myself and told them I had a degree, they pitied my parents. One participant actually confessed to it at close of the training. But I knew that if we don't share honestly what we know with others, it ends with us and it may never really sprout and bless as many people as it was meant to. So I shared my story. The farming business story.

This is what we all are. We have a dream job or career or business as we study or grow up and even sometimes arm twist our children to follow the same. But truth be told sometimes our dream jobs are not exactly that. We are still unhappy in them. But because of the attitude we picked up as we grew up, we keep from doing that which we may secretly desire or even be good at that which gives us happiness.

I met teachers and Veterinary Doctors and a few nurses who had come to attend that training, but they still introduced themselves 'professionally ' first before adding that the are also farmers, on the side(many said).
UNDP sponsors a project headquartered in Masaka and I had been asked to train farmers 'how do farming as a business'. We covered several districts, including the Island areas too. I am sure a lot of the participants did not come for the knowledge. I told you what they thought.
To make the doubting Thomases even happier, my co-trainer was David,and he is even younger than me by several years. We chatted, we interviewed and we trained. Then question time came, and this elderly lady stood up and asked a question.”Why would you ever leave a job to go into rearing chicken?"
I had been mistaken to think that all these people had actually come to learn, to share experience and plan to get better in agricultural business.
Looks like every one else had the same question because hands went down so fast I had one question to answer. And so I did.

"To start with", I said, "I am very glad doing what I do. May be that is why I am here with you. I will tell you why. This country has over 80% of its population dependent on agriculture. Most of them are subsistence farmers though, that is why they have to do other jobs to get by. You also know that this country has the best climate in the region and the most fertile soils you will ever find. Things grow without help. I mean we have local chickens 'rearing themselves' in our back yard. Just imagine what would happen if we put a little effort into farming that and actually did it as a business. This is what would happen. We would get a lot out of so little. Because we are blessed with climate and fertile soils, we would also be very competitive across the region."

I knew deep inside that what my trainees wanted to know is whether I made any money rearing chicken. I am sure you want to know too. So here we go. If I sold a chicken egg for Ushs 200 and my profit was Ushs 50. It would make a lot of sense if I sold more eggs. The mere fact that I make a profit off each egg also means I have the potential to make a lot of money. So, what if I sold 1000 eggs? That is how much I would be earning in profit, Ushs 50,000. How about if I sold a million eggs? So supposing I sold the million eggs in a month or in a week, is that profitable business? It could be tomatoes or greens or even beans. The formula is the same. That is why Cigarette companies make billions of shillings yet their product is cheaper than a button, and their market is even restricted. With farming, we are talking food and each passing day we have to eat. We can not opt out.

The lady was not done yet. "But do you make any money? Are you saying you can actually get rich out of farming?"  And I said yes. I was also making money out of training farmers.

What it means to be a developing country is that most, if not all resources are virgin. Untapped. Therefore it is much easier today to make successful business than, say one hundred years from now, and the reason we have over 80% of our population producing less than 30% of GDP is because most farmers are just that..farmers, not business people. Once they acquire business training and think the same way stock traders or car bond managers think, we have a rich class of people on our hands.Don't forget what Al Gore said, "the next billionaires will be food billionaires|". Think about it. Maize nowadays is not just on demand for  food alone,but for fuel too.

I did not know whether I had really answered her question, but one year later, when we had a review, an elderly lady still stood up during question time and said.
  'I will be very honest with you. I did not believe you then that you can actually survive off farming alone, and for a person who went to school, I did say a prayer for your parents. But then I went back and tried raising my local chicks with a bit of business sense. Now I vaccinate them, and I look for market before they are ready. Everyone in Sembabule knows the lady with nice chicken. I am not rich yet, but my grand children don’t lack fees any more. I would like to thank you. If I were not old, I guess I could be able to do better.'
I felt that my whole session was done. It is touching to know you made an impact however small in some one's life.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

wake me up when I am rich and famous..

Growing up,I wanted to be rich and famous,travel the world,live in a palace of a house...the works.When I graduated,the dream lived on,but now I had to take stock and choose the route to live the dream(like there was a route then). Sadly, I didn't see many routes.

When I got my first job,the dream was still alive,but how to move towards it,not many encouraging paths. I mean how do you travel the world on my salary then! Madness just. By the first month,I had already calculated how much I would earn in a lifetime,ceteris paribus.....If I keep the job till retirement and  if prices kept the same(he he he..funny that one).
Sadly,my lifetime(forecast) earnings would not even buy me a decent house at market rates then, yet the dream tagged along...remember,the works,travel the world,drive a cool car.

Then I stumbled upon Kiyosaki.Yes.Robert Kiyosaki of the Rich Dad Poor Dad fame. I must have re-read that book  about five times.That book spoke to me. I have met people who have blessed the person who pointed them in the direction of the book.I have also met people who said that was the best selling rubbish they ever came across(of course not read).Totally useless ,they say.
 By the time I put down the book,I had a new problem. So how does one work on starting a business?

My problem was made more interesting because I was working for a not-for-profit-organization then. During the last quarter of the year,we always struggled to spend our allocated budget.We always underspent. I don't know why.Some say, a few of us were incompetent. But shift the slide and my real life did not have the same challenges. Those would be lovely challenges.Imagine struggling to spend on a personal budget.Too much money too little time! On the contrary, I never did have enough money...and the book said business would be the same..a lot to spend on and not enough money.
How do I marry these two? Congratulate me, I had a second problem.

Over and over again,I thought and thought.
 My answer was not far off.
On a random Monday night,sometime in April 2005, I woke up. Not rich  and  famous,not even to lights, cameras and music,but to painful grunts. I was in hospital. I had just had an accident and I had blacked out for about three hours ,they told me. A few moments later,my worst fears were confirmed. I had a broken arm,a broken leg and a concussed head.

This is the point at which you say,I am sorry and shed a tear or two.
I always knew we were  close friends.

That episode above started my four months thought process.I was hospitalized that long,well,till I was able to walk with  just a limp.During which time my self confidence suffered a real blow,what with being helped to do just anything.

During that time,I was idle and I read a lot.Yes I have that addiction. Every time I would get a call from work,my  thoughts would race  in my head,and I would always think;
'These guys are firing me!'
 I mean ,I caused an accident.Was most likely over-speeding.Was my insurance renewed?
One time, I even received a voluminous envelope marked 'Private and Confidential'.I prayed from my hospital bed for this not to be my termination letter. God works. It wasn't. It was just a staff survey questionnaire. HR stuff. You should have seen my relief. The reality is, while you are at your weakest point,you tend to expect the worst to happen. You just feel it.
However,one thought that never left my mind,and which troubled me greatly was ; what happens  if at my next review the doctor looks  at me straight in the eye and tells me 'I am sorry son ,you will never be able to walk again'.  I had no answer........and what if I could never use my left hand again? Would I get back my job? That answer I had...and so I hoped and prayed.

This  was a full year before I ever went into business.But the need was felt and my first business was birthed. 
I set my self a modest target. If  only I  were able to earn just a quarter of my salary from my business,I was  ready to roll.
I left before I reached the target,but I was determined to succeed on that route.

Sometimes you will be lucky along the road of entrepreneurship,sometimes not so lucky. In my second year of self employment(I was still the only employee of my business),I actually woke up rich and famous.Well ,sort of.  I won a business plan competition. There were lights,music,cocktails and gladly business training too from  Enterprise Uganda.

I wish you win too,sometime,but I will also tell you ..... It may never happen. So don't go into business to win money.Rather to create your own,by supplying a good or service that only you or just a few of you can give. You get competitive that way.
I will warn you though,there will be no barriers. In a week you may come from a one industry player  to having attracted competition in thousands,from as far away as China,and you haven't even left Luwum street. So you need to keep innovating and upping your game,and you learn as you go. You must have heard of globalization,right? With globalization,the opportunities are immense, but so are the challenges.You now compete with the whole world as if it were next door.

On a lighter note. I was able to walk again, and my hand healed.But the motivation stayed.Call it what you want,negative motivation,but it got me off.

Looking back,I can only marvel. I have gone places I never knew existed and I have grown too.My prayer for every entrepreneur,is to go into your passion and push yourself to the limit.

By 2006,we did not have as many or as big supermarkets as we have today. Interestingly,when we went to pitch to supply their new branches with goods,(on credit of course)supplier numbers were evenly comparable to employment seekers. What tugged at my heart was seeing elder men and women,probably in their retirement years building a a young business, with a weekly order value  of about 30,000 shillings,and deep inside I thanked God I started early. At least I had time to make mistakes,correct them and get back on,but at fifty five or sixty,the odds are not  quite the same. What do I say? Start early. Now is the earliest you have,so you have time to perfect your art,even a hobby,while you have the energy to run around chasing payments and seeking credit to fly higher.

Had I not had the accident,would I be 'me' now?   
I don't know.
Do I wish you the same?
God forbid!
But I do earnestly hope my circumstances propel you on.

You will never regret your decision .Like they say,there is always room at the top. Aim high. and like Nelson Mandela said : 

"Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate,
but that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won't feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.
It is not just in some; it is in everyone.

And, as we let our own light shine,
we consciously give other people permission
to do the same.As we are liberated from our fear,
our presence automatically liberates others."

Saturday, January 15, 2011

So I am taken,so what?

Me when I was growing up,my mummy did not tell me a lot about girls.She probably wanted to avoid stoking  my interest so soon. Even when I considered myself grown (some say I still behave like a baby),our talk did not shift in that direction,well because I was grown. I am curious,but the type who wants to pick experience by observing from the sidelines. I did the same with swimming,and look where I am. Still at the shallow end.

 I can say I have picked up alot of experience from the sidelines.Alot of it not mine.But I love the saying that learn  people's mistakes,you  may not live long enough to commit your own.
That said,someone please tell me why this girl behaves that way. It has been 4 years,almost and I don't understand why a girl would take offence over such a thing as this! Any help coming?

During my time on the sidelines,I made friends,boys and girls alike. Friendship with boys is easy,you talk about football,girls and you drink beer.Lots of it. Friendship with the girls is more delicate,you never quite know what you cannot say or can say. During this time,I didn't date from the fold. So they must have assumed I was happy that way.

Now,here is where I need your help in translating girl behaviour. I will illustrate.
Iam lazing in my hotel room,having travelled too far to be here. I am sharing a cottage with my friend. Other people I know were expected later. The phone rings and I ignore it.Who would be looking for me from the hotel phone in  Bagamoyo? It wont stop ringing,so my friend answers it,rather rudely to the tune:
"How may I help you?" he bellows,
"Oh,it is you. Anti I was just concerned. I thought I was the first here,then I see Emma's name at reception check in.I asked who he is sharing the cottage with and they refuse to tell me......", a female voice goes on
Mbu since she knew I had not travelled with madam,she got curious.This from someone who I have not talked to for more than five minutes in the past five years combined. This girl can talk.Even when she should be embarassed,she will still be talking be on top of her voice.
 I dismissed her banter considering her reputation.

 I was broke anyway,and apart from the conference to distract me and enjoying the ocean,I had blown all my trip's money in Zanzibar.Komba dicotheque,if you want to know.But Iam sure you don't. Maybe another time.

This incident was brought to the fore when during another trip something came up.
The first time my 'girl-friends' met my girl friend,two things happened.They loved her and then demonised me.
Mbu  you don't know those guys.Nga they can be BAD.  They just use you and dump you,trust us.We have known especialy that guy for five years.What do you know?' motor-mouth and the gang told my angel. 

During this second trip somehow we got talking about me.She jumps in and call us all to attention.
"Stop right there.There is someting I want to confirm.Emma,I hear you said mbu before you were hitched,most girls ignored you,but now that you are taken they throw themselves at you. How can you ?"
Okay I will own up. I did say something like that after a particular incident,which Iam sure you also don't want to know about,right? Okay,if you insist. Another time.Promise.
But at that time,I could not explain especially to this woman that it was none of her business and since one or two of the gang  members which had expressed my praise in 'glowing' terms to my angel were in attendance and were quite eagerly waiting for my response,it could onlyturn into more bruised egos.

Iam just saying,why the sudden interest by someone whose lack of interest was greatly appreciated before and would be very welcome even now?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Emma's musings on prostitution and global business.

So Dr. Nsaba stopped an International Sex workers' meet! Huh!
The spokesperson of the Uganda Sex Workers' Association says that  the symposium was not meant to discuss or even practice sex techniques(and we are known for those  across rivers and hills) but rather discuss occupational health issues,like occupational safety,rights and let us face it, global business strategies for  the 21st Century(it goes without saying)!
Picture this;
The Sexworkers start levying 18% VAT on sales which they retain and at the end of business year they trek to URA's Commissioner Genaral's office to remit their VAT and maybe claim some tax refund for deductible services...and let's say they have a few billions to declare.How would it be? Would the Minister of Finance together with URA call the Police or would they shake their hands and praise their contribution to national development?
Caution to the ladies(of the night) you need something else to be relevant..have what others want.Conduct profitable business. Then you will even be categorised as either mid-sized or large (he he he)tax payers! You will have the attention of the President in minutes.

Scenario2. Spiritual and moral.Say it is campaign time and all Presidential and Mayoral or even Parliamentary candidates are short of campaign cash and this humongous donation is presented ,with issues to be tabled once elected.I doubt you would have trouble capturing the  attention of leaders.You could even demand for infrastructure. Or just  start tithing and contribute generously to church projects.Prayer helps.

Or maybe you obtain World  Bank funding and on a given day in one of our dailies there is that title: Invitation  to Tender:
The Uganda Sex workers Association has recieved funding from the World Bank to the tune of 128 billion shillings..to...... Bids are invited from suitably qualified candidates without prejudice or conflict of interest to carry out a baseline survey on whatever it is....
 Some one tell me you would look the otherway if you are in the consulting business.

Lesson .Don't be poor.You will be seen in the worst light ever. So go ahead and claim those funds government has.After all you say  the Global Fund had some percentage of yours.

Or maybe you occupy offices in swanky places like Nakasero or Kololo and you advertise for jobs for your Association. A CPA here,a Legal advisor there and maybe a Medical Doctor there...Very highly competitive jobs,with high pay. Someone tell me you won't go for the interviews.Someone please.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

njuki moments: Season II: Is that her ....Emma?

njuki moments: Season II: Is that her ....Emma?

Season II: Is that her ....Emma?

Previously on ..Is that her Emma?

Hot, lip-licking chick going for Emma.We later find out she is Lynette.
 Flash Flash.

Green eyed gal giving Emma the Look(that must be Dorah)

Dude Deo, eyes swollen and wet, saliva flowing (evident  palm tracks on cheek)

our ka jingle plays.....,gets loud,louder.....then fades ,fades....

Presently. Two guys are seen at a table with a platter with something that seems sweet. One Guinness,One Bell Lager and a Smirnoff Ice Black.
 You know I don't work  for a hard -drinks company, I just support them...and since these events happened that way,I have to mention the beer I was drinking! Yes.The Bell was mine.
The beauty with being Catholic.We are allowed a drink anytime,  in public,wherever, and its not a sin! Yippee!

The House rules,guys.This again is a Men Only post.Okay? So I won't be responsible for what your girlfriend does to you if she finds out you read such stuff! I will deny you.

Its been several days since my main man got slapped. By a one- day- old gal-friend at that! Such balls!...okay I meant guts! So we are seated at a platter when he receives this call.

       "Where are you?"
  (this question makes telephone companies rich.If it went out of fashion,or by any luck got outlawed, profits would drop. I tell you)
"I am  just leaving home."
"Are you sure Deo?"
"Yes Dorah. Did you want to come by............?"
"Nga I see your car packed out here....?"
Phone clicks off and previous caller confidenttly struts to our table,invades our pork and hence the Smirnoff Ice on table. 

Some time back:
As boys ,we watch each others' back. We are brothers. You there...not like that!  

Like I was saying..... brothers cover each others' back.So when Dorah asked me what happened at the Kasiki I kept to my part which gladly ends with me in my bed. If she wanted x-rated stuff,she had to ask someone else.
Deo had also been briefing me  earlier,some one had sold him out.
"Ggwe man. Do you know Dorah found out?"
"Found out......?"
"Yes  man.She even knows I was slapped by that ka Lynette.Whoever told her!"
"How many people know?"
"Ate how many? You, me,and Lynette."
"Do the math, man.Someone told some one.Are you sure they don't know each other?How did she react when she found out?"
"That girl is full of surprises.She just told me that she knows my type,mbu that whatever I do doesn't surprise her at all..can you imagine?!"
Now Dorah,seated calmly and drink ordered,explains to me an interesting concept.I swear at the end of this lecture.I demand that God starts making chicks with user manuals.They are just so ever changing.You need a write out from manufacturer to understand them.

You think you  are wise?!
'You guys think you are smart,but you just don't know! For me I know this guy, he cheats,he lies he is a drunk,but I choose to stay with him.You see not many girls can stand that kind of guy. Nga we have gone through alot together!! Those bu-girls will come and go.Do you think she was the first? When she called me that  morning I hear to boast I just told her she won't manage and  I am not afraid of her.'

This is some lucky dude, I think. She is that understanding!

 It comes as a shocker brethren, when five months later I find Dorah pregnant ,and its not Deo's! Her explanation? Even patient women sometimes can't take   the shit no more.
"Tell your friend he can come for my kwanjula if he wants. Its next week- end."