They said he couldn’t do it. They said he had no business experience, that he was from a poor background. It was as though, those closest to businessman and self-made millionaire, Uganda’s Amos Wekesa expected him to fail. His big break came when he was chosen by the Salvation Army to be educated. His education and opportunities also led to the discovery of his passion for being a tour guide.
Amos’s passion for tourism and wildlife fired him to set up Great Lakes Safaris one of Uganda’s first local tourism companies that was to go on to become one of the largest in the country.
It wasn’t plain sailing, but with the help of the internet and a series of great PR opportunities which came out of customers brilliant experiences, Amos has been able to create a successful brand.
He says that Uganda has everything it needs to be successful. The country has tremendous opportunities, unparalleled beauty, amazing wildlife and captivating forests and attractions that cannot be matched by any where in the world. When he talks about the natural environment around him, he exudes passion and it is easy to see that business ideas like these are fuelled by love and not simply by the desire to create a commercial success.
Not only did Amos build his brand by offering a great product with a high quality service offering, he took advantage of the opportunities offered by the internet to build his position using, FaceBook, Twitter and Instagram, supplemented by Search Engine Optimisation and an understanding of how people went about trying to locate services like his. Media articles came next although he talks enthusiastically about the Washington Post article which first opened the door for him.
According to Amos , tourism brought in $1.4billion dollars into Uganda without a great deal of investment. He feels the scope for development is boundless and finds it heart rending that people think that there are better opportunities for them outside the country when he sees so much at home. Where he started, other locals now follow in the belief that if he has been able to be successful, so can they.
But what is more, is that he has now become an advocate for investment in Uganda. He believes that no one can sell the country like a Ugandan who has a vested interest in the country, and in his role as an advocate talks to anyone who will listen, particularly the young people in schools, colleges and universities.
Image credit: Adapted from sarahemcc, Sempaya Hot Springs, CC BY