The Hotel Africana Convention Centre in Kampala. (courtesy picture).
BMK Group of Companies is one of the top business empires in Uganda and symbolizes the fact that investment and business opportunities are abound in Uganda.
The story of late Bulaimu Muwanga Kibirige, popularly known by the BMK, is that of “from rags to riches” – a school dropout who, despite facing adversity, transformed into one of Uganda’s most successful business and investment moguls.
BMK was an illustrious indigenous Ugandan businessman who ran a very successful family business that grew by leaps and bounds, transforming into an exemplar of strategic domestic investment.
The BMK Group responded enthusiastically to Government’s call for increased domestic investment in the hotel and accommodation sector, becoming one of the key domestic investment licensees of Uganda Investment Authority.
For example, in 1996/97, in the run up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), BMK put up Hotel Africana & Convention Centre Kampala, making significant contribution to Uganda’s hotel and accommodation sector. The USD 6-million investment then created 215 direct jobs, and the number of workers has been going up. It also supported
Ten years later, BMK built the multi-purpose BMK House, an investment of USD 27 million dollars, creating 272 direct jobs. For the BMK House investment, Uganda Investment Authority offered BMK the Silver Award in the Investor of the Year Awards of 2016.
The BMK House, Hotel Africana Kampala and the Africana Convention Centre now form what is termed as the “Hotel Africana Complex” in the heart of Kampala.
In 2019, BMK set up the USD 3.4-million Hotel Africana in Moroto, Karamoja, directly employing 84 people. The Karamoja investment is especially uniquely significant in many respects: location in a hard-to-reach region but with huge tourism potential and investment opportunities in areas like mining, agriculture, etc.
The Moroto venture not only contributed to regional development but helped in opening up the Karamoja region for more investments. By the time of his demise (in September, 2021), BMK had plans of setting up high-end hotels in Pakwach and Arua, respectively, in northwestern Uganda.
In his investments, BMK did not put his eggs in one basket, but strategically diversified into other investments. For example, from general trading, BMK pivoted to sectors like hospitality, education (had shares in Greenhill Academy), real estate, manufacturing, construction, agriculture, forestry, heavy machinery, and automobiles and spare parts, amongst others.
BMK Group distinguished itself as one of the leading domestic investments in Uganda, defying the perception that ‘top investors are foreigners’.
In Uganda, the BMK Group employs over 1,000 Ugandans directly, with many more indirectly, in addition to contributions through taxation and value adds in supply chains of the Group.
The BMK Group has also grown into a regional giant, spreading investments into neighbouring countries. The BMK “brand” is prominently found in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Zambia, where many Ugandans also work as expatriates.
In Zambia, for example, he established a Hotel Africana concern, which is one of the top hotels in the southern Africa country.
It is worth noting that Uganda Investment Authority walked with BMK in his entrepreneurial and investment journey.
BMK seized business and investment opportunities, as well as support services, that obtain in Uganda, to make it big here in Uganda!
David Rupiny is UIA’s Media Relations Officer.