You may wonder why someone in his right-thinking mind can resign from a well-paying job to start business deep in a forest. Well, Mr. Samuel Mugenyi whose preferred future was in Tourism woke up one morning and decided to resign from his former British American Tobacco (BAT) job.
Mugenyi started saving with National Social Security Funds (NSSF) in 1996 with just Shs.50.000 and by 2008 he was saving Ugx1M on a monthly basis.
Mugenyi who was 48 years old in 2015 could not withdraw his NSSF benefits even after he had resigned from his former employer, so he had to wait up to 2017 for him to be a qualified candidate for NSSF retirement benefits at 50 years.
After a period of thirty days in a process of following up on the benefits from NSSF, Mr. Samuel in December 2017 received Ugx 500M and he decided to invest in Tourism by erecting magnificent cottages deep inside Kibale National Park in Kamwenge District.
“I realized that all tourists that came to visit Kibale National Park did not have any accommodation near the reserve. After their visit, they would go to Fort portal and Kasese. That was my source of inspiration to venture into the Tourism business,” Mr. Samuel said
The African touch characterized by local wood, grass thatched houses, brittle voices from different bird species and thick forests welcomes you to the Kibale Guest Cottages.
The clientele is still foreign dominated and according to Mr. Samuel, a big number of tourists get to know of Kibale Guest Cottages via website and all the bookings are done online and this is done by his wife whereas for him, he is on the ground coordinating operation work.
Mr. Samuel has erected 12 cottages, 6 single and 6 double rooms and a night with breakfast at the cottages costs $USD85 and $USD150 for single and double respectively.The tourists’ suppliers are the biggest tour companies in town.
The tourism sector has two types of seasons that determine the influx of tourists and these are high and low seasons. High season starts in June up to mid-September and some few tourists come in around January while February to June is a low season when few tourists are expected.
One would think that all is good at the cottage, but that would be an unfair remark, Samuel says that the Tourism business is floating on a lake incase of anything it sinks. The most challenging issue is instability, the number of tourists is determined by the existing security status of a country. Apart from insurgency, disease outbreak is another pressing challenge facing the industry. Ebola and cholera have been the killer diseases in the region and this has unfortunately reduced the number of tourists hence affecting the country’s economy.
“Little has been said about Uganda, many people come to Uganda asking about the Amin killings, if Amin is still alive or dead. Uganda has been tainted with a poor image of the past and this is not good for both tourism and investment,” Samuel said.
Despite its challenges, Uganda has remained a pearl, it has the most unique species that are not found anywhere in this world like the habituated chimpanzee therefore activities like chimp tracking and birding still bring in more tourists.
Kibale guest cottages employs over 10 employees who are saving with NSSF and on a good month especially in the high season Mr. Samuel earns about $USD10,000 per month as returns from the investment and his plan is to make Kibale guest cottages an attractive destination for most of the tourists visiting Uganda.
According to Mugenyi ,20 years of saving with the NSSF has been the biggest achievement in his life because he has been to set up a multi-million cottage with a net return of $USD10,000 on a monthly basis, educated all his children in international schools and he is constructing a holiday home using the income from the cottage .
When asked if there is anything that NSSF could do to improve its services, Samuel first applauded the fund for its automated quick services especially in process of accessing people’s moneybut he urges the fund to invest more in improving financial literacy among its savers and non-savers.
To vote for Mr. Samuel Mugenyi in the NSSF Friends with Benefits competition, dial *254# or go to www.nssfug.org.