Today we meet Frank Opolot a graduate of Soft ware engineering and an owner of an ICT company. He helps people solve soft ware problems with their computers.
What do you do in your business? I am running an ICT firm. I am doing everything related to ICT. I sell computers, accessories and have an internet café in Kireka but these are to help me run the business.
How did you start? As I was studying I used to buy gadgets one by one, a mouse, monitor, or CPU. I saved some money from my last job and I started selling phones and dealing in mobile money. It was not my thing but I needed to raise money to do bigger things. I saved enough money for rent and with the 2 computers I had bought earlier, I started my internet café. I decided to add a gadget to the shop every month.
Why did you choose this business? I love it, am so passionate about it.
Do cafes make that much money that you have two shops now?
Not really, the knowledge you have makes more money. A café is small so it only brings in day to day money and it is a contact point for my clients whose systems I maintain.
How much are your businesses worth today?
I am now operating on 21 million capital and I employ 4 people.
Tell us about taxes:- In Kampala city
- 250,000 KCCA license annually
- 118,000 SIGN POST
We don’t pay to URA because we are small
- In kireka a trading license and the sign post comes to about 200,000
As an importer, what is your experience? Lately government is insisting on first hand gadgets which are so expensive for most of our clients. But the taxes on computers are fair. We are charged according to the weight of the computer for example a 20 foot container of computer is taxed about 3 million shillings.
How do you get your gadgets to Uganda? We import from China and Dubai, but not everyone has to go abroad unless you need a very large consignment. We have associations through which we send representatives to purchase items for us.
What challenges did you face at the start? At the beginning the attitudes of the people around me were not supportive. Many people thought I could not make it on my own.
- Rent is very high especially in town
- The bills sometimes are hard to beat because we don’t always make money.
- The staff can be a problem; usually you are the only one with the vision. Many are simply working with you as a by-the-way so you have to be there in your business.
Present challenges? The ICT period is seasonal for example if you are near a university, when school closes, you struggle to survive.
Business tip from Frank’s if you want to go into a similar business.
- You need to run your business yourself to know when money comes in, or what clients want.
- Don’t set targets that are so hard to beat.
- Don’t expect so much money from the business or else you will lose interest if it takes long.
- Before you go into a business, commit to it so that even when the challenges come, you will be able to manage.
- Always have a business plan.