Tuesday, July 13, 2010


It was reported this week that kings and traditional leaders have formed a company. This company is supposed to help the kings engage in business, raise funds and promote development in their kingdoms.

The directors of the company will be the kings and chiefs of Uganda – except the Kabaka as he was not present at the company’s inception.

This company the “Forum for Kings and Cultural leaders” has great potential as a force for transformation not only in the cultural leaders’ lives but also in their subjects as they propose to, through it, participate in projects like immunization, food security and document their respective cultures.

Of course this will be no ordinary company and the political dynamics aside, it will be interesting to see how they leverage their assets under their control and respective influences to make it work.

I like the idea because if executed properly it has the potential to liberate the leaders from the crutch of state hand outs and secondly, will bring them down to earth as they grapple with the challenges of managing a business in Uganda.

Some of these leaders have access to large tracts of land by virtue of colonial inheritance and they will have more than a passing interest in what’s going on with the Land Amendment Bill 2007.

The bill being debated in parliament currently seeks to seal a loophole that was living tenants vulnerable to eviction by their landlords. The current amendment will regularize the relationship between the landlord and tenant, unlocking these assets will be an added challenge.

Political, cultural or religious leaders of any description are rarely good businessmen, so the cultural leaders will be well advised to get professional managers to help them unlock the wealth under them and leverage their positions for profit.

The Queen of England at last count annually earns about 110 million pounds or about 346 billion shillings from the crown estate, which has been in her family since 1066. In addition she has other investments that pull a few more billion shillings annually. She does not manage her portfolio personally.

The Aga Khan’s wealth, generated from judicious investments around the world, uses the monies generated thus to fund his health, education and other social projects. Again he is not directly involved either in generating the wealth or managing his charities.

And these cultural leaders unlike us mere mortals do not have the luxury or option of “eating” all their money before they die. They need to make very prudent long term investments that will carry for generations to come. Much easier said than done. It is hard enough to generate wealth in one generation without working through the dynamics of creating wealth to last generations and a system that will keep growing this wealth.

Coincidentally this was the Global Entrepreneurship week, organized in Uganda by Enterprise Uganda.

Enterprise Uganda has set itself the task of creating Uganda’s next generation of entrepreneurs and in their training modules they are quick to stress that money is not everything. Other qualities like vision. Creativity, integrity and perseverance will hold you in better stead over the long run than all the money in the world.

The cultural leaders will be well advised to take a few lessons from Enterprise Uganda in order that their project can take off and stay off the ground for generations to come.

You have to envy these gentlemen. Uganda’s poverty is not for lack of money but for the inability to aggregate our small monies into meaningful sums. And our inability to do that is for lack of leadership in every sphere of our lives.

Of course we are relying on myth but assuming the legends are true their collective wealth – if unlocked could make the company a serious player in corporate Uganda.

I am excited about this new company and wish the kings and traditional leaders the best. But then like every progressive move in Uganda maybe I shouldn’t hold my breath.

Published November 2009, New Vision

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