- Juggling school and work, Singiza says, have not been easy. He also says he wishes he got more support, but many times people are quick to critique rather than support small business.
- Entrepreneur. Exposed to the business world by his family at an early age, 23-year-old Simon Singiza started a hostel business on Facebook while at university in Mauritius, writes Charlotte Ninsiima.
Simon Singiza is an enthusiast and ambitious young man willing to do anything to get him on a Forbes list before he clocks 30. The 23-year-old law graduate is soon finalising his Business Administration degree course.
Born in Kashenyi village in Bushenyi District, he went to Aga Khan Primary School, Kisubi Seminary, Vienna College and proceeded to Wolver Hampton University in Mauritius. He is currently at Victoria University.
“Growing up, I was passionate about debate in high school and got exposed to the business world quite early by my family. Therefore, I decided to do law first and didn’t think business skills were vital then. Later on, I didn’t see myself keep up with the law career for long,” he says.
Singiza’s family owns Voyager Hotel which introduced him to the business world early in life. He says he made his first Shs1 million from growing cabbage on two acres of land at 18 years.
“As time went by, interests changed and farming didn’t work for me out quite well. Nevertheless, I learnt something from it as I joined university. I had the urge to earn a few bucks rather than depend on my parents,” Singiza says.
While at university in Mauritius, Singiza says many international students were finding it hard getting decent accommodation.
“They were too expensive, too small, not quite to their taste, which was the same challenge I had. I took up the initiative to travel around.”
“After I got decent accommodation for myself and my friends, everybody kept recommending me and that’s how I birthed the Hostel Guide which started as a Facebook account. I had a database of several hostels. The students could see pictures, know more about the hostel and book. That earned me a commission of about 10 per cent on each hostel booked.”
Since they signed six months to two years contract, Singiza got some good money.
“That’s when I made my first $2,000 which was quite exciting. I have people who still coordinate the page even when I am not there.”
Balancing books and business
Singiza says he had a challenge of balancing books and business which almost affected his grades.
“My father, Marcellino Bwesigye, says do 80 per cent books and 20 per cent others. With time I slowed down on the business.”
And now towards the completion of his Business Administration course, Singiza has decided to revisit his original idea.
He currently helps small hotels to scale up their visibility and publicity online. He says he is creating a website that will help link students and hostel owners.
Singiza says he recently submitted a proposal to Start-up Africa and was successful. He is among the people who will earn $5,000 at the end of a 12-week training that starts this month in Nigeria.
Also in 2017, he participated in the Visa Free Africa competitions where he emerged successful.
“We were supposed to give our thoughts as to why Africa should open its borders to the rest of fellow Africans with the bid to promote business and free trade. I pitched my ideas and was nominated the best,” he says with a smile.
Juggling school and work, Singiza says, have not been easy. He also says he wishes he got more support, but many times people are quick to critique rather than support small business.
“If the Ugandan community was passionate about their own, it would be quite a big boost,” he says.
Singiza hopes to impact people’s lives as much as possible because people are remembered by the lives they impacted as opposed to how much money they made.
“I keep in my mind dad’s advice; ‘you make money as you solve people’s problems.’ I hope to solve many people’s problems while having fun.”
He advises the unemployed youth to look out for opportunities within every problem because one never knows where the breakthrough will come from.
Born in Kashenyi village in Bushenyi District, Simon Singiza went to Aga Khan Primary School, Kisubi Seminary, Vienna College and proceeded to Wolver Hampton University in Mauritius. He is currently at Victoria University and is soon finalising his Business Administration degree course.