Saturday November 4 2017

The dream was to be his own boss

Guidance. Okila believes that youth just need a

Guidance. Okila believes that youth just need a little bit of guidance to turn their innovations into income generating ventures. Photo by Edgar R Batte 

By EDGAR R. BATTE

Eddie Douglas Okila has a dream to build a media and communications platform that will be used within and beyond Africa.
He is the chief executive officer of House of Talent located north east of Kampala on Mawanda Road.
In 1997 Okila started on journey to build House of Talent realising the dream in 2004.
Since then, House of Talent has had both good and bad times but has been involved in notable productions such as the XXL Television show that was aired on NTV.
“XXL realised more than Shs10m of sponsorship per week. This was possible by linking content to high profile individuals with a huge following in the target viewer demographic,” Okila says, adding innovation, taking on challenges and captivating content, addressing issues that directly touched viewers was the energy that powered the XXL show.
House of Talent, he says, was started with the desire to add value, be relevant and be a source of encouragement to youth people, particularly those that are seeking to get jobs through the traditional route of job seeking.
“I have always loved creating things from scratch and developing them. I guess it is safe to say I wanted to do more than my forefathers did for our generation. So, I had set that target and I prepared mentally to walk the long journey,” the 36-year-old says with a glow as if to suggest “I have arrived”.
Okila, then 23, had initially had challenges with a number of people doubting his capacity to do their work.
“Besides people not believing in me, I have worked with dishonest people, some of them friends who are only about quick returns and survival,” he says, adding, “I will never forget one particular incident when one staff member connived with the landlady’s son, broke into the office and robbed 10 computers. We had just imported the computers. This was a major setback. I would realise this much later.”
However, this did not break him putting focus on growing the company’s sales through low cost marketing, getting the right human resources and providing key leadership.
However, Okila says carrying on the business needed informed decision backed by research which he commissioned and found out that 84 per cent of the young Ugandan entrepreneurs reported employing other people, highlighting the employment creation potential of youth businesses.
“This part motivated me to work harder,” he says, adding he was now focused on television production, even though he understood that most television in Uganda and East Africa put less confidence in local production thus denying them broadcast space.
“I was determined and I made sure that I concentrate on quality. That is how I won over the market and gained trust from serious stations such as NTV,” he says.
However, television productions, he says, are marked by piracy which makes them quite unaffordable to some TV stations thus resorting to pirated content.
Television stations buy series and movies from video libraries or just download and broadcast them without copyright.

This is a problem and UCC [Uganda Communication Commission] has not done much to solve. Perhaps if this stop we shall find a market for our content,” he says.
Okila has grown House of Talent into a multifaceted investment company with complete intent to branch into new avenues as it grows.

Part of his wish list is to open a free to air commercial television broadcasting house powered by the current growth of the digital space.

FIVE THINGS ABOUT OKILA

1 Career goals
Okila has always been deliberate in pursuing what he wants to be and with high levels of confidence. In this journey money has not been his driving factor but focus on getting a company that has the potential to give him more and share it through employing youth.

2 Inspiration
Many people get derailed but Okila has always focused on getting the job done and doing it well. This has helped him to be appreciated by others as well as building immeasurable relationships with a number of people.

3 Always ask questions
Asking questions make a difference in Okila’s life. This, he says, gives him an opportunity to get a variety of divergent views as well as understanding how other people work through challenges. He also listens.

4 Putting God first
God is part of Okila’s life and in everything he does he has always ensured that He is at the nearest point. “God takes care of many things in life that you have no control over. Above all, be gentle and humble,” he says.

5 Acting by example
“I walk a very simple journey of speak what you do and practice what you speak and what must be done to get there. I struggle as any other Ugandan but I am a visionary. I see what it shall be like and wake up to what is that needs to be done to get there.” This has driven him into being innovative and enterprising.

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