Most statistics in Uganda show that either most of the indigenous local businesses will fail within the first 2 years of their existence or will only grow within the limits of local business market and remain at a certain limited level only able to meet the local demands.
This however is not the case with Threeways Shipping Services [Group] Ltd, one of the largest indigenous freight forwarding and Logistics Company in Uganda. Founded in United Kingdom 1991 and incorporated in Uganda in 1996 that is now 17 years ago, Threeways has made all the above statistical facts nearly untrue.
Starting from a clearing house with only 4 members of staff and a small office, Threeways has since expanded into a large group under a holding company, BRO GROUP. This group which now employs over 700 members of staff also includes a heavy Transport Company, Transtrac Ltd, a light distribution company, Threeways Distribution and a media house and radio station, Touch FM. Threeways Shipping Services [Group] Ltd has operations and fully fledged offices in Uganda, four in number, with Kampala as its Group headquarters, and also in Kenya, Tanzania with Hellmann Worldwide Logistics as their Global Network Partners.
One thing though stands out on this Group unlike most indigenous businesses. Whereas many are known to be directly synonymous with their original owners and directors, this group has a setup only similar to high end multinational organizations.
“This group made a choice almost 5 years ago to reform its working structures both organizational and Hierarchical. We now operate with autonomous management and Board structures”, says Oscar R. Baitwa Esq. MBA, the Group’s Chairman and Director. This he says is one of the key fundamentals required to safeguard the business and guarantee continuity and free growth and diversification.
Oscar further affirms that because of this structure, the ability of the different management teams to make decisions and run the group efficiently is further emphasized leaving a lot of critical day-to-day decision making in the hands of competent teams, carefully selected by the Board and senior management.
According to the Group’s Human Resource Manager, the group prides in a very high skill set of employees with very high self drive and motivation. “We have staff with specialised training and skills in the respective critical positions such as corporate planning, Human resource, Engineering, Logistics management, Finance and Audit among others. Most of these possess Masters of Science and Arts in their respective fields.”
This coupled with a very elaborate corporate structure and well defined hierarchy can guarantee that for the Group, no size or challenge forthcoming is too big. The Group’s corporate planning team re-affirms this and also confirms that the structure in itself is a self healing and self adjusting for effective succession planning.
The result of this reform is possibly what has led to Threeways and the entire Group claim a decent position among its peers in the Logistics industry. And since the results are undeniable, the Group has now embarked on a regional expansion drive without any fears.
“We have now gone regional in the Eastern and Southern African market and in a really big way. Our expansion drive and proven track record is going to see us build our own Sub-Saharan Logistics network and a state-of-the-art hub at the Namanve industrial park to serve as a centre for the Great Lakes Region. Of course this will come with the support of our partners such as Banks and loyal clientele and other regional partners who have shown such confidence in our abilities and potential” says Oscar.
“Whereas many still look at Uganda as being landlocked we feel privileged as Uganda that we’re a focal point in the region because we’re land linked”, he adds with great conviction and optimism
He is very confident that based on how structured and organized the group is now, the founders and shareholders have now far more confidence that their existing board and key personnel can take the organization even much further without so much need of intervention from the core founders.
This, Oscar says, delights him so much because he is now sure more than ever that their hard built reputation and endless efforts are finally showing an organization destined for greater international heights.
“From our current strong ability to meet even the most stringent requirements of the Oil and Gas industry in Uganda as the leading logistics provider, our unmatched quality of service, our current healthy investment portfolio to our very high customer retention capacity, it is clear our customers are only going to have better in the coming years” adds Oscar.
In a nutshell, just imagining an indigenous and Ugandan founded company setting up a global logistics network may have been a dream 5 years ago. Today it is an evident work-in-progress that has been witnessed by all and sundry.
A growth trend of this nature with such good dreams only then disproves the notion presented in the national statistics and gives such hope to many of the indigenous companies that all can achieve this, despite the many challenges presented by the globalization trends and the many other challenges to business.