Automating information brings in Macheta’s money

Workers flip through computer records stacks of files in court. PHOTOs by Faiswal Kasirye

What you need to know:

Hard copy softened. Josephat Macheta automates hard copy documents into easily searchable and reportable digital files online. Coseke, which helps institutions cut operational costs, made an annual turnover of between Shs360 million and Shs25 billion in 2013.

He is known as the man with a golden touch. This is because everything Mr Josephat Macheta touches seems to flourish. After his experience, particularly in Kenya, he didn’t expect it to be easy here. It took him about three years to get his first business in Nairobi.

By the time he left the neighbouring country to establish the document management company here, he had propelled it into the number one position irrespective of the stiff competition.

Nearly seven-years down the road, the country manager of COSEKE, Mr Macheta, has turned COSEKE into one of the fastest growing company in Uganda, according to a survey commissioned by Daily Monitor and the KPMG, an audit firm. It took no more than three months to secure his first deal with the government. Although it came as a surprise, his earlier experience while establishing the Kenyan firm came in handy.

His biggest customers are government ministries, departments and agencies. Others are financial institutions such as commercial banks and insurance companies, private firms and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Small and Medium Enterprises can also be treated to tailor made services.

Lands and Registry department, Uganda Bureau of Statistics, Uganda Registration Service Bureau and Kampala Capital City Authority are some of the institutions that can testify about the quality of services rendered by COSEKE.

Earning trust is challenging. “We still need to demonstrate, especially to our main clients, the ministries, department and agencies that we can be trusted. The Top 100 mid-size award we have scooped will go a long way in bridging that gap.”

Over the years, Mr Macheta has learnt that relationships matter in business. “Building relationships is the most important thing in business. Coupled with paying attention to customer needs and specialising in an area you can deliver on best; sky is the limit.
According to Mr Macheta, as a company there are now more experienced. And with Kodak partnership the firm appeal and experience goes beyond the local and regional borders.

Advice to SMEs
Working as a team is a must. An entrepreneur cannot solely make it on his own without the good will of the people he/she is working or relating with. It is important that SMEs begin to think of venturing across all the regional countries. It is not enough to lay your eggs in one basket.

Industry outlook and what others say
Coseke is the industry leader in document management. Among its objectives is to ensure that paper transactions are eliminated in offices. The industry according to the market leader is virgin with so much potential to exploit.

Meanwhile, the Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU), the private sector apex body is full of praise for Mr Macheta. According to the PSFU executive director, Mr Gideon Badagawa, COSEKE should maintain the momentum and other firms should emulate the feat.

Achievements thus far
Being the winner of the Top 100 mid-size companies is no mean accomplishment. “The award is a testimony that we can deliver on our promises given that we have everything it takes to come clean on what we promise—undertake any global assignment in line with our professional competence, let alone the huge nature of the projects, among them computerisation of all land titles in Uganda,” Mr Macheta said.

Birth of COSEKE
Coseke was first registered as a company in Uganda in 2004 although it started operating three-years later—2007. Mr Macheta said unlike many companies, Coseke’s initial capital was based on goodwill in terms of credit.

This means once a project is undertaken, a financier would be approached for financing and upon completion of the project, the bank gets its cut plus the interests and the company is paid for its professional services.

Sometimes such an arrangement could entail a percentage of up-front payment. But whichever way agreed upon, the document management solution company will have its cut. Through this method, it builds it base to become the fastest growing company in Uganda and the region as well.

Employment provided:
In an interview with recently, Mr Macheta said: “We are 16 permanent y employees, and depending on the nature of the project we are undertaking, the firm could employ between 200 to 500 casual workers annually.”

Future plans
Going forward, the document management solutions company with offices across the region, particularly in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda will be looking at expanding to South Sudan, Ghana and South Africa.

The ICT firm is looking at getting a warehouse that will keep records/store information for organizations at a fee. Taking on projects that would otherwise be done by foreigners is what Mr Macheta intends to do. “We hope to see that most contracts given to foreign firms are handed over to us because we have the capacity to do them,” Mr Macheta said.

Being the winner of the prestigious Top 100 mid-size companies in Uganda simply means COSEKE’s annual turnover ranges between Shs360 million to Shs25 billion. This is an indication of a well-run, profitable and reliable company. Participation in the Top 100 mid-size survey is voluntary for all companies that are willing to provide financial ratios based on three-years of audited accounts.

The survey excludes listed companies on the stock exchange, banks and insurance companies. More than 200 firms participated in this year’s survey. The Top 100 survey in Uganda has been conducted since 2009 as an initiative of KPMG and Monitor Publications Limited in partnership with sponsors such as Stanbic Bank Uganda and Insurance Company of East Africa Group.