The joy in self-employment

Jack Musaali is a leadership coach. Photo | Isaac Kasamani.

What you need to know:

  • Work. Jack Musaali worked in the corporate field right after his graduation from Makerere University until he decided to start his own company writes Esther Tusiime Byoona.

When he graduated from Makerere University in 2000 with a Bachelor of Urban Planning, Jack Musaali worked at Kampala City Council (KCC) for two years.

“I worked on the first Northern Bypass project, Kawempe and central divisions,”  the urban planner says.

Musaali,45, left KCC because he had ambitions of planning the city but his views were still developing and he got frustrated. He joined an MTN dealership where he sold airtime vouchers and phones. He says it shocked some people.

“It was paying better than my previous job, I had more freedom and I felt a sense of fulfilment since I could see the results of the effort I was putting in,” he says.

Musaali says he used to buy airtime from MTN shops and distribute it as well as persuading people to buy sub-dealerships and put airtime vouchers in their shops.

“I meet people who tell me I helped them through that airtime venture in their shops and it helped to stabilise their income. This gave me a sense of fulfilment in my work,” Musaali notes.

In 2003, Jack got a six-month fellowship programme in America.

“As an intern at the Government Affairs department, I worked with Family Research Council (FRC) in Washington DC, four days a week. One day, was for physical class and the other for fieldwork. I had papers to write, which were graded,” Musaali remembers.

FRC is a Christian lobby group and non-governmental organisation that aimed to guide and influence policies and laws that were being signed. His work entailed research, writing papers, making calls to constituencies, and attending meetings with the GA team to present different papers and research.

“I worked with the team on the Partial-Birth Abortion Bill, which was later signed into law by President George Bush. This was my most exciting experience.”

Job offers

Upon return from the US, Musaali looked for a job in vain. Then a friend advised him to write to Jubilee Insurance’s managing director but he was frustrated. His friend wrote an email on Musaali’s behalf.

“He told me the managing director had replied the email and wanted to get in touch with me,”Musaali recalls.

The managing director was so impressed with him and told him to return to his office.

At  Jubilee Insurance, Musaali did filing and customer service work. He worked on a project where he did a report for the board. It was not before long that Barclays Bank called him for an interview as customer service manager. He aced the interview and the salary was better.

He used helped people with opening bank accounts and such other services for two years. In 2005, he was promoted to higher premium banking.

“That experience shaped and helped me to interact with people who looked like they were out of range, and I was the one that had the solution,” he says.

In 2007, Barclays merged with Nile Bank which changed his role changed from customer service to operations where he did loan processing. Musaali says the role from 2008 to 2009 was different.

“It was tough for me to work in that environment, because I wanted to interact with people and I would only deal with paperwork and applications,”Musaali explains.

Change roles

In 2011, he received three different job offers on the same day. One of them was from Watoto Church as operations manager.

“I was stuck about what to do, and I consulted my boss. I told her my dilemma and she advised me to pray about it,” he remarks.

Musaali prayed at the Sheraton gardens after which he took the Watoto Church offer.

“My choice shocked many but I stood my ground.”

He resigned from Barclays Bank where he had been for more than five years and joined Watoto Church in December 2011. He says the culture at his new workplace was so different than what he was accustomed to and it changed his work view.

“In the corporate world, you send eight emails before you get what you want. At Watoto you meet someone physically and it gets done right away,” he says.

He was at Watoto for seven years and felt that what he was doing was connecting him to his purpose. The father of three explains that he enjoyed his work at Watoto and one of his highlights was organising an event when the church was celebrating 30 years of existence.

Musaali saw the impact of leaders while at Watoto and recognised how influential leaders could be.

“I saw leaders who were able to hand over power to prepare the future leaders to become more successful than them, and it was extraordinary to be in the room and it made me want to be part of training leaders,” he says.

Leadership  journey

In 2004, Musaali with his wife Miriam partnered with some friends to train people in leadership. For Musaali, it was a part time stint. With friends such as Ethan Mussolini, they formed Success Africa Company to handle training.

“Ethan would get deals with companies and we would go and train corporate organisations,” he says.

These, he says, stirred him to join the training field. In 2018, Musaali travelled to the US for coach certification where he met renowned leadership coach, John Maxwell. When he returned home, he resigned from Watoto Church at the end of 2018 to concentrate on training others.

“In 2019, I started to coach people and what I believe is God has given each of us unlimited potential. The opportunity we have is to discover and fulfill that potential,”he says.

At the beginning of 2019, with his wife, they held the first series of  ‘Becoming a Woman of Influence’ seminar which was more successful than he expected.

“The women that attended the seminar told me it changed their lives. It boost their confidence,” he says, adding that the work he has done throughout his career has prepared him for leadership coaching.


Asked about his views on self-employment, Musaali says it is a great way to take one’s ideas and turn them into something valuable that allows one to serve the community.

“I would only challenge the romanticised view on ‘be your own boss’, and ‘working on your terms’. Most people who say things like this are looking for an escape from what they feel are stifling rules and structures,” he notes.

Musaali says he enjoys the fact that he can do the same thing for  people he has the privilege to serve.

“I can share with them timeless principles that make life  better,”he says.

Although he is still a work in progress, Musaali shares principles, ideas and practices that inspire others to live better lives.

“My joy is to help others see and fulfill their potential and, to enable them grow to serve and transform their world,” Musaali explains.

The head of J&M Musaali Ltd says, in preparation for retirement, we need to develop our skills, our relationships and our character.

“Skills allow us to be able to add value to the world and also to receive the income which would enable us to live off the result of our personal income and investments,” he says adding that relationships are critical because this is who we will be with when we are older.

Quick notes

Jack Musaali, 46, likes being able to select people he works with because in other workplaces, one does not have that option.

“There is the possibility of earning more income than if you were only relying on your salary,” he says.

Musaali’s biggest flower is that he can choose to work in the area he feels most fulfills his purpose for living.


Musaali advises those in formal employment to maximise the places they are in and learn.

“Get every benefit your employer provides, attend every training, work in every role they will let you work in and do your very best,” he says.


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