As the Inspire Africa Business reality show draws closer to its final launch on March 31 in Kigali, The Business Times’ Dias Nyesiga talked to Nelson Tugume, 28, the CEO Inspire Africa, and last year’s young Achievers Award winner, who was once a taxi conductor in Uganda, about the show and his secret to success. Below are the excerpts.
Business Times: We have been hearing about you, can you tell us about yourself?
Nelson Tugume: I’m Nelson Tugume, CEO Inspire Africa, chairman of Uganda Motor Vehicle Importers Association and overall achiever at the 2011 Young Achievers’ Awards. Besides, I’m a God-fearing man and a loving husband.
This humble background seems to tell a story; how did you manage to go through all these given the fact many have gone through that life and never managed to reach such dazzling heights?
My story means nothing, if you simply think, oh he was lucky or he is so smart. My story can be motivation and the fuel to help you create your very own story, your very own legacy. Today, I challenge each of you to ask; what can I do for my country? Your life is a gift from God, what you do with your life is your gift back to God, your family and all humanity. I’ve always had a different mindset…I believe in using opportunities presented to me other than luck. It is with this belief, my determination and hard work that I’ve managed to come this far.
What kind of businesses do you deal in and what is your annual turnover?
I’m into real estate, motor vehicles import and human capital development. It (turnover) varies but it should be) an average of US$ 17.5m
What is this (Inspire Africa) business reality show? Can you elaborate more about it?
The reality television show is one of activities of Inspire Africa, where 24 contestants from four East African countries are engaged in several daunting business tasks to compete for a grand prize of US$50,000 worth of business start-up capital. It is showing on television stations in the region and the grand launch is scheduled to take place on 31st March in Kigali, Rwanda.
So why did you particularly choose Rwanda for this show?
Rwanda is a very organised country, with a forward moving president. I believe the young populace here has a lot to offer, and someone needs to tap into it. So I chose Rwanda.
What is Inspire Africa and how did the idea of a reality show come about?
Inspire Africa is a human capital started by a group of young and enterprising Ugandans, 12 months ago after they were all shocked by the news that Uganda had the highest business mortality rate across the world……..and the aim was to create and empower a fresh generation of African entrepreneurs with practical entrepreneurial experience, while extending to them; sufficient financial head start, practical business exposure, and developmental mentorship.
Human capital development is still not understood in Africa especially in East Africa, which has made another fiddly area to venture in. What is your trick at Inspire Africa to see this achieved?
At Inspire Africa, we believe that successful entrepreneurship holds the best answer to the unemployment crisis of today.
We therefore see a movement of young, able minded and business oriented people transforming the African economy through a progressive and innovative entrepreneurial approach.
As an experienced and successful businessman, what normally limits the youth to have the gusto to start up businesses?
The fear to start and the mind set.
What motivates you to do all these things?
The determination to use all the available natural resources we have and make Africa a better place as opposed to the “Dark Continent” it is referred to. We’re blessed by God with all these resources at our disposal. There’s no reason for us to suffer poverty, unemployment and their associated evils.
Mmmmh, like many people would have asked, was it luck or even any person from your humble background as a taxi conductor can raise up to own these multi million projects at your age?
Certain aspects of your life story, like mine, you may have no control over. Many of us as Africans are born into poverty, are orphaned at a young age, and are forced to do manual labour. What is important to remember is that it is up to each and every one of us, how our story ends. First, do not attach yourself to your story.
It is just a story and we can all learn to tell the story differently. This is important if you are to move beyond the pain, the day to day struggles and the uncertainty to be able to create the life you dream of and deserve.