Kampala is the capital city of Uganda, a country found in East Africa. Like any city in the world, it has hordes of poor as well as rich folks. However this short story will illustrate to you how John (not real names), a father of four kids needed more miracles than fate to return his kids to school and also managed to survive a new government law on forestation.
John had migrated to the city in the mid-1980s when life in Kampala was affordable to many a person. Throughout the years that followed, John made a living selling charcoal stoves. The raw material for these stoves was the rusting rails in Namuwongo, and a southern suburb in the city and 5 miles from his workstation. the fuel was wood from cut-down forests
John enjoyed his work and was able to raise a happy family. He could meet his tribesmates in the evenings at a local bar where they could discuss home issues.
Because his business was so flourishing, John didn’t think about saving for the bad times. As fate would strike an unprepared lion, the government banned all charcoal stoves in a project titled “Save our Forests”.
John was caught unawares and ill-prepared. His kids had reached high-school level and he needed more funds to maintain them in school. After too much thought, John found an easier way to make money; that is conning people.
In Kampala, smartness is associated with well-being and affluency.
So John devised a plan to buy nice veteran hoodies , shirts, suits just to pretend that he is an investor. He could go daily to the Post Office carrying a nice briefcase.
One Tuesday morning, a Briton who was working for a prominent Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) met John at the Post Office. Because he was smart, humorous and interesting, John exchanged contacts with this expatriate after convincing him that he was an investor who was undone by a bad financial deal and that he needed a small funding to kick-start his business.
John and James the expatriate (not real names) would meet at the Golf Course in the evenings. This new-found friendship was to be the source of John’s wealth because this Englishman recommended John to do most local business for the his NGO like insurance services, printing services, cleaning services, procurement services etc.
He formed a company John & Partners LLC after being advised by a local friend and it’s in this company name that John was able to get most of the contracts.
Through a mixture of ingenuity, hard work and luck, John was able to build a company that not only grew but employed most of the former artisans who used to work with him as cleaners and messengers. He indirectly saved most of his tribesmates from unemployment.
When the NGO closed business in the mid 2000 and James the expatriate returned to London, John’s company was able to venture into insurance services given the amount of capital it had accumulated.
Today, John’s company is one of the fastest growing insurance companies in Kampala. He sent all his children to study from universities in Europe and America and they are the ones managing the company.
The story is a remarkable turn-around for an immigrant artisan who conned an expatriate into believing him as an investor and then cultivating a friendship that saved John from looming poverty.
write by Gerda