In Summary

Many people have no idea how they should invest their money. The easy way is to invest in a boda boda. However, many will not the risks involved yet if they sought for another investment vehicle such the stock exchange they would have better yields, writes Susan Khainza.

In Uganda we do not see the point of buying shares, Treasury Bills or Bonds.
Yet on a daily basis we work between 10 and 15 hours for shareholders to earn a salary that we believe is less than our worth. We invest in boda bodas and farming expecting higher returns than the stock market or bonds.
We don’t stop to ask, if investing in shares is not worth our money, why are most of our employers investing in them and not cattle or boda bodas.
We never care to study or understand the risks of these businesses until when our fingers are burnt. Uganda desperately seeks ‘investors’, offering terms not beneficial to us.
However, we fail to realise that we have the greatest potential to capture our place as the best investors for our country.
It is not that we do not have adequate savings or financial capability; it is because we do not know how to tap into our inner potential. As we scream about high interest rates and berate banks for their greed, why not benefit from the high interest rates by lending?

Should we invest in shares?
When you invest in shares you become a part owner in a company and thus you will gain from dividend income and possible price appreciation.
Voting rights give you the opportunity to participate in major decisions of the company such as making decisions on how a company invests or which person should be on the board. You also have the power to decide on which firm should audit (since you are a shareholder) your company.
Dividends and future price appreciation depend on the company’s financial performance.
Therefore, it gives you an opportunity of a dependable income on an annual basis.
Consider not only price appreciation but the opportunity to earn from compound interest by reinvesting dividends.
Stanbic share price is approximately four times its Initial Public Offer price, but with reinvestment of dividends, return on investment is roughly six times.
Long-term investment in shares doesn’t require active management and transaction fees are much lower than real estate.
Buying Treasury Bills or Bonds is lending to government or a company issuing the bond. The borrower pays back with interest.
The minimum investment in T-bills and bonds is Shs100,000 and you are assured of an interest on the principal that depends on the credit-worthiness of the borrower. We seek higher returns by re-investing that interest.

How do these investments compare with other avenues?
Investing in soft commodities such as grains or livestock is usually weather-dependent and highly volatile, but faces a fairly stable demand.
Farmers may know the costs of keeping cattle or buying seeds, but may only know the selling price at the time of sale. In periods of economic growth, strong demand pushes up their prices.
Farmers face storage and maintenance costs, disease, theft, perishability, unfriendly weather patterns, and it requires active management.

Real estate
Building a home to live in, rental properties or buying land to sell in future requires huge investments commonly involving borrowing, so it is heavily affected by high interest rates.
It is illiquid and has no immediate returns. If it does, it relay takes time and you might never recover the principle investment in a life time. Rental properties require active management, face risks of vacancy, have maintenance costs and depreciate in value.
Both commodities and real estate offer the psychological advantage that they are tangible; we can see, touch, count and show them off. But we have no guarantee on how we can earn from them.