Siblings who personal a bit of Kampala Metropolis

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By ANDREW BAGALA

At Najjanankumbi, on the Kampala-Entebbe Highway, there’s an imposing piece of structure. The unmissable constructing, known as Freedom Metropolis, homes a resort, kids’s play space, retailers and an assortment of different companies.

Trade gamers say Mr John Ssebalamu, the proprietor of the constructing, spent an estimated $30m (about Shs111b) to erect it.
Mr Ssebalamu, born in Kasanje, Kalungu District, is a cog in a household of first technology billionaires who personal a big a part of Kampala Metropolis.

Mr Ssebalamu and his brothers – Paul Lubega, John Bosco Muwonge, and Haruna Ssegawa – owe quite a bit to their sister, Ms Christine Nabukeera, herself a property mogul in Kampala.

Within the early 1980s, sources near the household say the brothers labored carefully collectively operating companies in Masaka.
Mr Ssebalamu, the youngest of the lot, says they struggled collectively carrying banana clusters and low luggage on their bicycles from the villages to the market within the peri-urban areas of Masaka.

Change in enterprise
Their sister, Ms Nabukeera, had already migrated to Kampala and noticed no hope for her brothers trekking each day to promote perishable commodities within the city areas. She helped them begin an attire store in Masaka Township.
“We might come to Kampala to purchase attire in bulk and return to Masaka the place we bought it in our retail store,” Mr Ssebalamu says.

They needed to complement their incomes by promoting a few of their attire in flea markets. “We suffered within the flea markets, particularly throughout wet seasons,” Mr Ssebalamu says.

Commercial

Given the character of flea markets, they moved round main cities within the sub-region in the hunt for shoppers, thus getting commerce publicity and connections.

Mr Lubega had earlier married his spouse Gertrude, and Mr Muwonge later additionally married Gertrude’s sister, Resty.
Mr Ssebalamu later married the sister of his brothers’ wives, Ruth. That makes three brothers married to a few sisters. It was on the advice of his elder brother that Mr Ssebalamu married Ruth, he says.

“It’s my brother John Bosco Muwonge who bought for me a spouse, who’s his spouse’s sister. It began as a joke but it surely has labored for us and we’re pleased about it,” Mr Ssebalamu says.

“At present, in case you are to inform our youth that you’re selecting for them a partner, they won’t enable it, however it’s good follow. You need to enable dad and mom to get for you spouses,” Mr Ssebalamu says.

Mr Ssebalamu says even after Mr Muwonge bought him a spouse, he helped him all through whereas forging an impartial life.
It was by means of these connections that they selected to maneuver to Kampala and continued with buying and selling in attire close to Buganda Bus Park (now Qualicel). They began importing garments from the Center East and their companies grew with time.

Mr Ssebalamu discovered a niche within the metropolis centre. Dozens of enterprise individuals had been used to working in a one-old customary large store that was poorly lit and congested.

Within the early 1990s, he purchased a construction generally often known as Mini Worth on Ben Kiwanuka Road and erected the primary arcade in Kampala Metropolis. His brothers and sisters adopted swimsuit.

On the time, there have been a number of previous properties that had been being bought cheaply, however Ugandans didn’t take curiosity in investing in them. The members of the family purchased previous properties and constructed arcades.

At present, Mr Ssebalamu owns Freedom Metropolis, Capital Home, Naiga Chambers and a number of other different properties.
He additionally established a garment manufacturing unit in Uganda, but it surely failed as a result of burden of taxes and low incentives. He described failure of the garment manufacturing unit as authorities neglect of indigenous traders.

Amongst his speedy relations, Mr Ssebalamu is taken into account to be probably the most approachable and tolerant to his tenants.
Whereas attending Mr Ssebalamu’s marriage ceremony anniversary, Mr Godfrey Kirumira, the chairman of Kwagalana Group, an affiliation that includes Kampala property moguls, stated he has by no means heard Mr Ssebalamu’s tenants complaining about him.

His elder brother, Mr Muwonge, is taken into account to be one of many main landlords within the metropolis centre, with properties dotted throughout Kisenyi space, Kafumbe-Mukasa Highway to Outdated Kampala and the Central Enterprise District.

Within the metropolis centre, he owns Premier Centre on Nabugabo Highway, Superior Complicated on Ben Kiwanuka Road, Kati Kati Plaza, Premium Centre Constructing, Enhance Arcade, business buildings for Buganda Bus Park and a dozen others.

Mr Ssebalamu has typically been concerned in wrangles with occupants of the land he needs to develop.

He was as soon as concerned in a foul incident between the Muslim trustworthy at Kalintunsi space in Kampala the place he purchased land from a few of their leaders. The group that didn’t need him to purchase the land tried to make use of violence towards him. However in by some means, he wins the land fights.
His most up-to-date investments are in Kisenyi, the place he has purchased the most important chunk of land on which Nabagereka Major Faculty sat and repurposed it for different business actions.
Two main taxi and bus parks in Kisenyi are owned by Mr Muwonge, and he has upgraded the as soon as marshy areas to a brand new buying and selling centre.
He’s now providing retailers to tenants for 3 months with out paying hire to draw enterprise in Kisenyi.
Mr John Kabanda, the chairman of Kampala New Technology Merchants Affiliation (KNGTA), says Mr Muwonge established one of many greatest purchasing malls in Kisenyi known as Gwanda and he has reduce hire along with three months of free hire for brand spanking new tenants.

“He has promised us to not enhance hire for 5 years. The retailers of the identical measurement that we’ve been renting at Shs3m, Shs4m and Shs7m within the Central Enterprise District, he has introduced it all the way down to Shs300,000, Shs800,000 and Shs1m respectively,” Mr Kabanda stated.

On Kafumbe-Mukasa Highway, he constructed a constructing close to Usafi Market in Kalitunsi space. Throughout the highway, he purchased a part of the land owned by a Muslim faction and constructed an arcade. Just a few metres away, he purchased a 1.2 acre piece of land on which the military veterans below Kampala Veterans’ Improvement Affiliation Restricted (KAVEDA) had a market and established business buildings.

He additionally owns Namayiba Bus terminal and the buildings that sandwich it.

However he has been concerned in operating battles together with his tenants as they protest will increase in hire. At one in all his arcades close to Arua Park on Ben Kiwanuka Road, a increase in hire resulted in a protest which led to a capturing that left one useless.

However Mr Kabanda stated Mr Muwonge has drastically improved his relationship with tenants.

“We talked to him about hire arrears in the course of the lockdown for the tenants in his buildings within the Central Enterprise District (and) he has promised to barter,” Mr Kabanda stated.

Their sister, Ms Nabukeera, is without doubt one of the few girls within the metropolis centre with purchasing arcades in Kampala.
Ms Nabukeera owns Kisekka Auto Centre Plaza, Victor Plaza in Kikuubo Enterprise Hub, Nana Arcade in Nabugabo, amongst others.

Like her brother Muwonge, she is hard on hire paid by her shoppers and would usually increase it when the Uganda shillings slid towards the {dollars}.

Her tenants at Kisekka Market needed to shut their retailers protesting enhance of hire final 12 months. Ms Nabukeera’s response was that she had loans to pay.

Ms Nabukeera’s brother, Mr Lubega and Mr Ssegawa, too have closely invested in property within the metropolis centre.
Mr Lubega, who’s probably the most reserved of all, has a number of buildings in Kisenyi and Kafumbe-Mukasa Highway.

Mr Ssegawa, like his brothers, began by placing up a business construction in Kikuubo, a metropolis enterprise hub then purchased properties and land exterior the Central Enterprise District, particularly in Kisenyi.

Mr Ssegawa additionally educated his kids, together with Mr Hamis Kiggundu and Mr Haruna Ssentongo, into investing in property enterprise.

Mr Kiggundu, in his 30s, now owns Ham Enterprise that has developed business buildings round Nakivubo stadium.

The properties
John Ssebalamu
Mr Ssebalamu, the youngest of the lot, owns Freedom Metropolis, Capital Home, Naiga Chambers and a number of other different properties.

John Bosco Muwonge
He owns Premier Centre on Nabugabo Highway, Superior Complicated on Ben Kiwanuka Road, Kati Kati Plaza, Premium Heart Constructing, Enhance Arcade, business buildings for Buganda Bus Park and a dozen others.

Christine Nabukeera
Ms Nabukeera owns Kisekka Auto Heart Plaza, Victor Plaza in Kikuubo Enterprise Hub, Nana Arcade in Nabugabo, amongst others

Background
Having one another’s again
Regardless of the successes and growth, a few of the members of the family have challenges, as an illustration paying again financial institution loans.
Final 12 months, a Metropolis Financial institution tried to public sale Nabukeera’s constructing over alleged failure to repay a mortgage.

Given the household community, these relations and their associates bail out one another financially and typically promote buildings to their members to offset money owed and monetary misery.

The members of the family proceed to work collectively. On January 7, 2018, when Mr Ssebalamu and his spouse had been celebrating his marriage anniversary at Saint Mary’s Cathedral at Rubaga in Kampala Metropolis, his brothers, Mr Lubega and Mr Muwonge had been by his facet, alongside their wives.

Ms Ruth Ssebalamu says in contrast to different males, who get wealth after which abandon the ladies they struggled with within the first place, her husband has been distinctive.

“He has been with me all through. I thank him and his brothers for loving us,” she says.
Masaka Bishop Emeritus John Baptist Kaggwa stated the unit of their households has been key to their success.
“When the husband goes to Dubai [United Arab Emirates], the spouse stays within the enterprise and does every little thing with transparency. They checked out marriage otherwise. Their marriage is about friendship,” Bishop Kaggwa stated.
“Are you able to imagine Ssebalamu began engaged on a bicycle and within the alleys of Masaka City? However they now personal buildings on Entebbe Highway. Thanks for being a household of the individuals,” he stated.

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