There are some Ugandans who under look some cattle products. They are all interested in products like beef, diary, skin—not horns.
But listening to the story of Eng Charles Wilson Ggala, you will realize where silent gold lies.
He is the managing director of Horn Production Uganda, a company based in Kalerwe-a Kampala suburb, which mainly deals in Ankole cattle horn products as their manufacturing resource.
Because the Ankole cattle horn is durable; the company specializes in adding value to it and in turn carve it to any solid design including buttons, jewellery and other accessories.
The 53-year-old has made a fortune in this business and he wants now to join politics to keep on inspiring Ugandans. Below is his story:
BECOMING A BUSINESSMAN
I was inspired by my father who left formal employment and started doing business in the mid 70s, and in a few years he had 3 cars [Subaru and 2 Lorries]. I was surprised at how he could get lots of money in such a short time. My late grandfather also used to deal in Coffee….
“After campus, I went to Uganda export promotion board by then called (chamber of commerce) to see what was being exported and to which countries etc. Fortunately, I had a neighbour who was dealing in cow horns but exporting only the tips; I and a colleague decided to try that as well. We went to the chamber of commerce and luckily we got two companies from Taiwan that wanted horn tips, we agreed with them to do business and that was mid-1994,” Eng. Ggala revealed.
We teamed up and ventured into exporting horn tips using our friend’s company. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough capital; we got money to do our first export from a moneylender but failed to accumulate the products within the time frame given to us so we lost all the dollars to the money lender and business collapsed.
I later went to Italy and Germany and that’s where I got inspired again to venture into horns but this time I had to add value to them here in Uganda. By 2010 we were doing well (producing Jewelry, buttons etc), and supplying in different countries including China— Chinese later came to Uganda and became our unbeatable competitors.
They began buying horns in kilos yet for us we were buying them in pairs whereby a piece ranged from UGX2,000 – 4000 depending on the size. A horn weighs about 2kilos, and a kilo was UGX8,000 by then, and as we speak a kilo is UGX18,000, a pair of mature horns go up to 6kilos. The business declined due to higher prices of horns but later stabilized.
The company is well established with 35 employees. However, COVID-19 has sabotaged most of the businesses worldwide; we have not been working as well. I also do rice-seeds farming as my side business in Kayabwe near river Katonga.
I stay in Nakasozi–Budo-Busiro East. Recently residents from Sub Counties of Nsangi, Mende and Wakiso Town requested me to join politics and I represent them in parliament. They want me to contest against the incumbent-Medard Segona. I accepted their request and recently I picked nomination forms for People power endorsement.
And when I portrayed my aspiration to the community and to some of my close friends, they were excited and requested me to present the people of Busiro East. I have been also politically active following everything.
The main turning point has been something to do with corruption; I have been so touched by the way people steal money and squander the national resources—it needs fixing.
Poor services in this area is another problem—roads are all not tarmacked for the last 17 years, and I ask myself who is responsible for all these. So I decided to join politics to speak for my people. Someone has to coordinate the services from that higher level to the local administration—we are all aware that most of our local administrators are not that educated, skilled, and exposed , they don’t know what to do, so this is where you come in to advise and contribute ideas to solve the scarcity. I have learnt that the leadership to solve community issues is missing here and that’s my main target.
I have other ideas for the community, like putting up a development fund. I discovered that our local youth groups and women groups do not require big capital; they are forced to stake their chairs, TV, etc to get a loan. Some youth just want UGX500,000 to boost their bricklaying businesses. And if there is that kind of fund, it will help the community.
No bank can give you a loan of UGX500, 000, maybe a friend so if this fund is in place it will surely help one group after the other. I also believe in cheaper healthy services, we have got so many private clinics around but people pay a lot of money to earn the services.
But do we have drugs in our government facilities; do we have professional health workers to work on patients?
We haven’t even had an ambulance for 10years; it is very expensive to hire an ambulance from here to Mulago Referral hospital, a peasant cannot afford that. So these are some of the things I am looking at.