Tuesday, April 01, 2008
‘Chengi’ slows Uganda entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurs in Uganda blame limited capital for little growth, or expansion of their businesses. Some whine because of witches. But are those the fundamental obstacles of business advancement?

A few minutes before writing this piece, I was in Wandegeya on my way to town, and need for airtime arose. I went to an airtime stand, and order for 5,000 top up. A man in his late 40’s handed back my 20,000 note because he had no ‘chengi’ (change).

I moved to a next stand that was managed by an Asian, and I flashed my 20,000. The attendant took the note, handed me the airtime, and asked me to wait as he sought me ‘chengi’ from the business neighbours. Within two minutes, I was done and I walked away.

In comparing the earlier seller and the second one, I noticed that the earlier seller didn’t need money though he had an airtime stand. The second seller needed the money though he has not ‘chengi.

In doing a random survey, if both sellers have ten customers loaded big notes within 15 minutes, the earlier seller would have nothing. The second seller would have benefited from customers. Dominance of business mentality of the second seller is what entrepreneurs in Uganda should apply for their businesses realise advancement.

Sometime back, Bank of Uganda ordered the banks not to chase people who seek for change from banks. Today, some banks sell ‘chengi’, even in the Taxi Parks ‘chengi’ vending booms, but 10% off the money need change is quite high.

It will take a long while for Uganda business men and women to notice how much they lose by chase a customer because of ‘chengi.


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