Cashing in on Uganda's oil boom

Trisa Kabaganda Trisa Kabaganda started with a restaurant and a boutique

Trisa Kabaganda knows that, as the Ugandan proverb goes, it is only the early risers who succeed in filling their baskets with white ants.

And when oil was discovered in the Hoima district of Western Uganda, she was an early riser.

She realised that people working in the oil industry would soon need local services and accommodation, and decided to grab the opportunity that was knocking at her door.

She started with a restaurant and a boutique, but has gone on to open the Trisek Hotel in Hoima Town, the district's capital, in August this year.

Lately she has also been filling her baskets with villas, 14 of them so far.

They surround the hotel - which overlooks the beautiful Hoima hills - and are all named after wild animals found in the nearby Murchison Falls national park.

Ms Kabaganda told the BBC's African Dream series that she charges from $40 (£25) to $60 a night for accommodation in the hotel, which has 10 rooms, and $100 a night per villa.

A road to riches

"Before the oil industry, I had not thought about a hotel but I was thinking of putting up apartments," she said.

For the last couple of months most of her guests have been people working on the road that leads to the oil well.

She admits that she has been making lots of money and says she wants to use it to buy more land and to open other branches of her hotel.

"I would want it to become bigger and bigger to make sure that my parents are proud of me and my people in Hoima are proud of me," Ms Kabaganda told the BBC's Joshua Mmali.

At the moment, her partners in the business are her two children, aged 20 and 22.

"I don't think it's a bad idea to put children in business. I've been doing my businesses with my children and, right now, I'm proud because they're all doing petroleum engineering," she said.

"I'm really targeting for the oil industry because I've put my children to the oil industry as well," she added.

According to The Economist, Uganda expects to earn $2bn a year from oil by 2015.

Earlier this week the Ugandan parliament was told that nearly 80 companies have applied for oil exploration rights.

Courage

Trisa Kabaganda

  • Started with a restaurant and a boutique
  • Opened Trisek Hotel in August 2011
  • Built 14 villas around the hotel
  • Accommodation prices: $40-$60 a night at the hotel; $100 a night per villa
  • Runs the business with her two children, aged 20 and 22

Ms Kabaganda told the BBC that one of her biggest challenges came when thieves targeted a container full of goods she had ordered to start her business.

"That set me back and then I had to spend like two months without opening but I managed to get along, and the things which they had stolen, I replaced them," she said.

According to her, a big problem at the moment is the scarcity of water and electricity in the area. It costs her nearly $130 a day to run a generator.

And what would be her advice to other women planning to start a business?

"They should have courage. And if you have courage you will slowly succeed because, as I started, I didn't know that I would finish but here I am. I've finished my project."

African Dream is broadcast on the BBC Network Africa programme every Monday morning.

Every week, one successful business man or woman will explain how they started off and what others could learn from them.

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