UK Convention’s Flashback: Message to Ugandans in the UK by Lord Verjee Rumi, a highly successful entrepreneur

 UK Convention’s Flashback: Message to Ugandans in the UK by Lord Verjee Rumi, a highly successful entrepreneur

Willy Mutenza, you are doing an amazing job in promoting Uganda in the United Kingdom. I am a proud Ugandan. I was born in Uganda. My family spent 4 generations in Uganda. An interesting fact that came out of our discussion was that we talk about the Ugandan Asians and their successes in the UK, but we must now talk about the Ugandan African Diaspora. And I think it is a huge opportunity for the people of the United Kingdom to promote, mentor and help the Ugandan African Diaspora.

I believe there are 160,000 Ugandan Africans in the UK and just like the Ugandan Asians, the Ugandan African Diaspora can be a huge resource for this country. So I think this conference (the Ugandan Convention 2014) is a wonderful opportunity to promote investment in Uganda itself, and also investment in the Uganda African Diaspora in the United Kingdom.

Our roots in Uganda and our success in Uganda helped me to be successful in this country. I was fortunate to start Domino’s pizza and it is true that we now employ 20,000 people in the United Kingdom, and we are very proud of that.

This country has been very generous to Ugandan Asians and we have been very successful here. But with success comes responsibility, and it is important to give back to your society.

We are very lucky as a family. We have set up a Foundation. Two years ago, I was able to visit Uganda with President Bill Clinton and look at supporting projects. In Uganda, as a family we are very keen to support projects in the country of our birth, in the country where we spent so many years. In Uganda, we support a project called ‘Building Tomorrow’, which is building schools in rural areas. These are probably schools that would not get built if it wasn’t for our work and the work of the Clinton Foundation, and the work of George Straw who is the Ambassador and social entrepreneur in Uganda.

You will only succeed if you give back to your community, and if you prosper in your community. I think businesses, banks, and the whole community will start to recognise more and more the people who actually give back to their communities, and not just looking after themselves. And I see change in the business schools I visit around the world, and the huge amount of people who want to become social entrepreneurs. I think we are just at the meeting point of social entrepreneurship and business entrepreneurship. I think those two are going to meet and create much better communities for all.

I think Africa is a huge frontier that has really been neglected over the last decades and it is just opening up now. I see huge opportunities in Uganda. And conferences like this are a springboard for that investment. I think people don’t know about the opportunities and I would highly encourage people, investors, entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs to go and visit Uganda and see the tremendous opportunity that is there. I think it is the new frontier and that people who start at the beginning and go in early will reap the big rewards.

We as a family have a big vision in East Africa. My dream is to build a new city in Africa. I think one of the problems that we’ve had over the last generation, starting with President Idi Amin’s expulsion of the Asians and the Black African expulsion, is the huge brain drain that occurred in Uganda. The best people left the country. We need programs and we need to make sure that now we attract the best brains to the country. That is going to be my way, of real estate facility, education opportunity. That is the opportunity today. We need people who say ‘No, we are not going to America, we are not going to Britain, we are going to go back to our country and we are going to invest in our country’.

I think there is vast opportunity for programs like that to bring the brains back to Uganda.

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