Focus on what you are good at

What’s the first thing that comes to mind at the mention of the title General Manager? For most it would probably be a big balding man with his best days behind him. However this is not always the case as Education times’ Collins Mwai caught up Belinda Bwiza, the General Manager at Sawa Citi Ltd, a cash and carry (a new wholesale and retail outlet) in Kigali.
Belinda Bwiza, General Manager, Sawa Citi Ltd. The New Times/ Collins Mwai.
Belinda Bwiza, General Manager, Sawa Citi Ltd. The New Times/ Collins Mwai.

What’s the first thing that comes to mind at the mention of the title General Manager? For most it would probably be a big balding man with his best days behind him. However this is not always the case as Education times’ Collins Mwai caught up Belinda Bwiza, the General Manager at Sawa Citi Ltd, a cash and carry (a new wholesale and retail outlet) in Kigali.

As general manager what responsibilities take up your day at the office?

Amongst many duties, I run all business operations. It entails dealing with suppliers; sourcing suppliers for new products and once the products are stocked, following movement of products from their placement on shelves to the hand over to clients.

Another aspect of my responsibilities is inventory management; making sure our warehouse, our logistics are efficient, cost effective and making sure we don’t keep items in the inventory for too long.

I also look out for opportunities of growth and expansion; these are both sales growth and growth through partnering.

It seems you’ve got your hands full, what academic qualifications are on your resume?

I hold a Bachelor Degree in Finance, Masters in Business Administration and a CMA, (certified management Accountant.)

For this office one requires more than just academic qualifications, what else is required?

In this role one needs to have passion for business, it is not always easy as you are dealing with many stakeholders from suppliers to banks and all this can be overwhelming.

One needs to have an entrepreneurial mind and self driven to see new opportunities and handle existing ones.

Any emerging trends that deserve any attention?


There is a new regulation that requires all retail businesses to submit all their transactions in real time to Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA), something we all have to adhere to. The moment you make a transaction, it is transmitted to RRA for them to reconcile taxes.

This kind of enterprise is an emerging trend by itself; the strategy is wholesaling to retail outlets, like supermarkets and also do retail at wholesale prices.

Other than payday, what makes the job worth it?


I get to work with established business people who have been at it for long.  I also value the chance to work with people, especially employees, being able to work with them and pass on my skills is very gratifying.

Considering that you have worked abroad, are the roles and responsibilities universal?

The general concept of management doesn’t change. What changes is implementing the theoretical part, at times you need to adapt to various societies.

What traits would bring down a holder of your office?


Not being adaptable because things are ever changing.  Not having an open mind and being stuck to your ways doesn’t work. You need to change and adapt every day.

What challenges should one brace for in this line of work?


The job requires dedication, you cannot have regular working hours, and you can get called up any time as it is a continuous seven-day-a-week business. Usually when people come to you they want their issues addressed immediately, everyone comes with urgency, you have to learn to organise yourself and your schedule.

When climbing the career ladder what is more important, experience or further studies?


Both are fundamental but one needs to be smart on how they go about it. Personally I went for my bachelors which basically involved a lot of theory without practical experience. I worked for two years before going for a master’s degree which gave me a sense of how an organisation works. There is so much that happens that is not taught in class. I would recommend people to go to school to get some basic skills then get some real job experience and then go for further training.

Any last words for those who envy this position?


It is very important to focus and know where your strengths lie. If you’re good at something, say Human Resource or accounting, you need to focus on that and build to become an expert. Focus on what you are good at and brand yourself, it allows people to take you on as an expert.

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