Tuesday February 25 2014

Three things that won’t make you rich

A woman begs for money from passengers in a taxi in Kampala.

A woman begs for money from passengers in a taxi in Kampala. Some beggars will dress, speak and adopt a posture that is designed to attract pity. Photo by Abubaker Lubowa 

By James Abola

There is a man that stands near the Tropical Bank office in Kampala; morning and evening begging for money. He has even managed to teach me a few Luganda words thanks to his standard begging phrase, “Mukwano nsaba onyambe opeyo ekyokulya” meaning, “dear friend, I request you to give me some money so that I can buy something to eat.”

While the man is more direct with his begging, there are many employees and business owners who are not any different. The beggar will dress, speak and adopt a posture that is designed to attract pity. Similar to the beggar, there are people who think they should be employed because of the pity they evoke; they will narrate heart wrenching ordeals they have gone through and difficult circumstances they live in so that an employer can take pity on them.

The pity card is also played over and over by petty traders. Recently, a man wanted to sell to me a framed art piece at Shs2, 454 ($100). Now before you begin thinking that this was the kind of piece that will earn my great grandchildren millions of dollars in a future art auction allow me to describe to you the item. It consisted of a quote in white font printed on a coloured background and framed.

If I am very generous the printing could have cost Shs4,902 ($2) and the frame another Shs9,816 ($4) and for his salesmanship and profit, the dear man wanted me to pay a premium of Shs230,676 ($94) and his pricing was not because the piece was worth that much but rather he was banking on pressing the pity button to release the money.

Pity is one of the character traits that cannot make a person rich. Pity aside, other people wrongly think they can get rich by demanding the money from others. This lot think that all it takes to get rich is to grab a person who has money in his pocket and turn him upside down until all the money has fallen off the pocket. In this category are friends and relatives who think they are entitled to enjoy the wealth of another person solely because of their relationship.

Others in this group are the thieves who are nicely called embezzlers and the outright robber who will demand for another person’s money with menace.

Demand technique
You cannot become rich using the ‘demand’ technique because victims will become more careful as they avoid getting robbed. But even if you succeed with the robbery, you must lose this money one day if there is truly a God.

Hard work
The third thing that will not get you rich is merely being hard working. There is a place called the railway goods shed in Kampala; it is the centre of hardware trade for the whole of Uganda.

Now a gang of four men may take six hours to off-load bags of cement from 1½ 20-tonne Fuso trucks. The strong men are off-loading 600 bags in all or let us say 150 bags per person. If they negotiate a really good price, they will be paid Shs100 per bag meaning each person walks away with Shs15,000 per day.

The reality of life is that whenever you find a group of hard working people you will find one or two lazy but smart fellows lurking around. So is the case with the off-loading and loading business.

There is usually a boss who gets the deals and then brings the labourers to work. At the end of the day the boss takes away Shs5,000 from each person and earns Shs20,000 in total for simply sitting in the shade and attending to facebook while the hard workers are sweating away.

You can be a hardworking teacher, a striking student demanding something from the government or a grovelling begging politician but the three traits will not help you get rich. The editor will not allow me more space to stretch this article further to look at what will actually get you rich if you have not figured it out yet so let us meet on this page two weeks from now.

The writer is passionate about spreading financial literacy and is the Team Leader of Akamai Global a business and finance consulting firm.

Email: james.abola@akamaiglobal.co.uk