The desire to become his own boss saw Everest Kayondo turn to different business options in the quest to make a living.
Who is Kayondo?
Professionally, Kayondo is a teacher-turned entrepreneur/businessman. In between the two careers, he added on another qualification in accountancy. He is also a family man with grown up children who are all professionals in different fields.
Genesis of his businesses
Kayondo ventured into business about three decades ago with initial capital of Shs30, 000 which he saved from transport refunds, teaching and book allowances that would be provided to students in higher education of learning by the then government.
Unlike his friends who invested their money in music systems, cassettes, and huge mattresses (bedding), he acquired a small stall in Masaka market where he sold merchandise ranging from toothpaste, shoe polish to plastic cups, among other manufactured products.
“My intention then was to supplement on the meager salary I was getting as a teacher at Masaka Senior Secondary School,” Kayondo said.
“Before our salary was significantly increased in 1984, survival meant that a teacher would either moonlight—teaching in more than one school, or take both morning and afternoon teaching sessions to raise some more money,” he said.
Between 1986 and 1987, he graduated from a stall to a lock-up shop. In 1990, he moved to a spacious premises in Masaka Town before making his way to Kampala City in 1995. “I was dealing in ladies’ items such as cosmetics, necklaces and several other beauty items,” he said in an interview last week.
The birth of Ever Based Tours & Travel Ltd
Seven years ago, Ever Based Tours and Travel Ltd was born. Kayondo’s tour and travel company deals in ticketing, visa advice, hotel booking, shipping and international medical booking, among others. Kayondo singles it out as one of the most successful enterprises he has managed. This, he says, is because the tour and travel company was not only built from earnings made from the previous businesses but it was also established out of a prudent decision that Kayondo gained over two decades of doing business.
Niche over others
“The advantage that we have over many other similar firms (tour and travels) is that we can directly do ticketing for both local and international flights, Kayondo says, adding: “We have been certified (and accredited) with the International Air Transport Association [IATA], meaning that we can directly issue tickets for any destination and deal directly with the airline companies as others have to go through agents and firms to have the tickets.”
With at least 10 tickets costing about $800 (about Shs2million) sold per day and an average total income of Shs800million per month, Mr Kayondo believes that the sky can only be the limit.
Journey to diversification
Due to cut-throat competition, especially from the Asian businessmen, whose imports were cheaper compared to the ones traded by Ugandans, Kayondo expanded his horizons into other business ventures such as farming and tour and travel.
The perils of starting business late
As a business person, Kayondo has realised that it is still difficult to market Uganda to other parts of the world. According to Kayondo, this is worsened by the fact that Uganda has no airline of its own.
“Lack of a national carrier has put us in such a disadvantaged position in terms of making it easy for us attract the kind of numbers we want compared to countries like Kenya and Ethiopia who have their own national airlines.”
New attitude required
There is also need for government to change its attitude towards local business people. Local businessmen and women should be allowed to own the markets instead of them being handed to foreign hands, he says.
Advice to young entrepreneurs:
According to Kayondo, those who are still in school, particularly in secondary school, should not underestimate the importance of accounts. He says: “In addition to other compulsory subjects, I would advise that no student should drop accounts because it will come in handy when he/she ventures in business later in life.” He continues: “It is important for any entrepreneur to understand how to compute profits and losses, assess investment risks and measure returns.”
A word for the elderly
He also thinks it is not wise for one to venture into business at an old age. He advises that those who start business at retirement age (60 and above) are better off investing in shares and bonds rather than managing companies of their own. “Start business when you are still young. You should not wait till you are 60 because the physical demands of a young business will take a toll on you,” Kayondo said.
Tips to youth
Kayondo warns young entrepreneurs to beware of dishonesty, saying that has no place in business. He also implores hard work and persistence, arguing that there is no short cut to success as many young people erroneously believe. “Respect in business goes hand in hand with integrity and ethical conduct. And all that is earned—you must ensure you have them,” said Kayondo.
Employment and achievements
The tour and travel company employs about 10 people directly. Kayondo employs another 50 people indirectly across his businesses which include; farming, shops in addition to tour and travel.
“One of my biggest achievements is the number of people I employ. I wish I could employ more,” Kayondo said.
In addition to being the managing director of Ever Based Tours & Travel Ltd, Kayondo is also the chairman of Kampala City Traders Association (Kacita) and former board member of Private Sector Foundation (PSFU). Kayondo is not only a leader but also a businessman.
Coupled with fantastic climate all through the year and the natural hospitality of our people means that there is so much that industry players can benefit from.
At the helm of Kacita leadership
About three years ago, Kayondo one of the founder members of Kacita was elected its hairman.
“The business community expect us to perform and it is our duty not to let them down,” he said.
However, that role requires a bit of sacrifice in terms of surrendering many hours to manage traders’ issues.
“ We do not get paid for the work and time we put in to attend to the association issues, but the situation demands that we do what we do for the good of all us —God and our country,” he said.
Although the struggle to advocate for improved policies and working environment is still ongoing, Kayondo is credited for his amiable personality and possessing good negotiation skills.