Local vs. foreign investment, frustrations of doing business part 4

There is a mentality that foreign investors are better than local ones in my African countries. With rampant corruption, most officers prefer to work

There is a mentality that foreign investors are better than local ones in my African countries. With rampant corruption, most officers prefer to work with ‘foreign’ companies for several reasons. They get the opportunity to travel abroad (to the offices of foreign companies) to ‘confirm’ a few things. This has a lot of benefits to them including travel allowances and kickbacks. For example, several local companies offer excellent translation services. However, what happens is that Ugandans prefer to go for foreign companies who in most cases outsource the services to the local firms at very low cost which is exploitative.

Who is accountable for the costs of the resulting losses to the economy? Where did the value for money auditors go?

The officers in charge never suffer the cost of delaying decisions. The cost of blocking projects and innovations is about ¾ of the total revenue of the company. You see business is about timing, it’s not so much about good solutions and products. It is about timing. If you don’t act now, you risk losing billions.

When people fail to adopt new projects and innovations and keeping people with innovative ideas waiting, telling people to write proposals as a delaying tactic, you are killing business.

What if you just give a person say two to five minutes. If it’s interesting, you may consider investing more time. The five minutes you give to the person could change your business by a big margin or else competitor may take over that opportunity. Businesses succeed as a result of good ideas.

It does not matter whether you are making profits. You lose something whenever you deny listening to great ideas. For government employees, this cost is covered by the taxpayer and that is the most frustrating part. No wonder H.E. President Museveni also gets frustrated. The president has been talking about officers who block opportunities — Bujagali project would have taken two years, but will now take more years. By the time it is complete, lots of opportunities would have been missed in terms of powering businesses.

That is the cost of delayed decision making. Finland decided long ago that since they were behind other countries, they cut all red tape. They had no time to waste in referendum and consultations. Get the information you need, take the decision and when there is a mistake, review and make good

Are you there? As a CEO or senior executive, you need to make it easy for people to access your office. These days it is even much easy with social media. Pass on your twitter account to people. Have your official mobile phone readily accessible. Reach out to people. You are a public servant or chief executive officer and your primary business is stakeholder management.

It is unfortunate that for most CEOs in Uganda when you ask them questions on twitter, they don’t answer. However, people like Richard Branson, when you ask them something on twitter, he answers as long as it concerns his business or if it makes sense. You should not think of a position as bigger than everything.

You must know that if you open a twitter account, you do it for a purpose – to interact and it is not to show how bigger you are.

There is always a person with a bigger car or house or luxury. So, be humble and serve.

Technology makes it so open, that an office becomes a virtual office. Listen to everyone, and get sense out of what they say. You can pick out what you want and ignore the rest. Take an example of one of the top local banks. They put up the contact number of the MD on all their ATM cards. Even when you go to the ATM, the MD’s number is there to contact him at any time. This has created confidence in the customers and other partners alike. And indeed, their profits have increased over time. They changed their way of doing business. When you get into the bank, you know you are in a bank. These are small things but very important.

Listen to everyone and make a difference. Don’t frustrate people. Sometimes just listening to what one has to say is what matters. May God bless my country.

Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa, 2020. All rights reserved.

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