MTN Uganda at 18:  what a journey it has been!

There are few companies that make instant impact in an economy like MTN Uganda

Since the official launch in Uganda on October 21st 1998, MTN has been undisputed market leader, top innovator and a company of firsts. As the top tax payer for several years in a row, MTN has been at the center of Uganda’s economic growth and transformation. At SummitBusiness magazine and Summit Consulting Ltd, we have seen it all, wrote about it and partaken in it.

MTN’s launch in Uganda itself was a game changer. As a village boy then, my Uncle had just returned from Russia the previous year. He had seen people carrying mobile gadgets, and admired them a lot. He told us that when he landed at Entebbe; he rushed to Kampala to look for one, in vain. He was advised to visit the then ‘King’ of telecom, Celtel. To his dismay, he was told to apply and wait. It took another two months to get a phone.  And it worked only while in Kampala! It was too huge and bulky like a call box, and damn expensive. High inefficiency, awful customer service and long service lead time characterized Celtel’s telecom services.  No wonder it exits in a different form and only after abandoning the house with (ghosts?) that once defined it.

All these changed that October 1998.

The ladies and gents at the MTN sales offices redefined customer care. The aggressive marketing, consistent design and shop layout made it attractive to shoppers. And the winner was making mobile phones affordable for all. No applications to buy a phone. No application for mobile lines. No gloomy faces. It was quality business. A new office layout here. Changed phone displays in shops there. More new services at the shop (today there is no phone repair. Tomorrow you find repair services). New districts covered. New products launched. New partnerships created. New technologies launched. MTN has been moving. It is everywhere you go.

So, when mobile money happened, MTN took the innovators risk and brought it home at the soonest.  SummitBusiness wrote a special report on the new innovation, tapping the unbanked. MTN went on to empower so many entrepreneurs, touching millions of lives in the process. Importantly, with mobile money, MTN increased financial deepening and tapped into the unbaked. The net money transfer to the villages has been increasing implying MTN enables redistribution of resources and growth of the villages in Uganda.

The MTN SMEs Business training

MTN has been a force behind so many entrepreneurs business growth across the country. The MTN SMEs Business training, an annual event since 2008, has been an essential and critical investment that has opened so many people’s minds. MTN has been training so many entrepreneurs across the country in essential skills like innovation (to avoid a copy and paste business approaches which do not last); record keeping (ensuring institutional memory and sustainability); business planning and execution, working capital and cash flow management and using the internet to grow business, among others. In the picture, is MTN’s Mazen, the then MTN CEO in Mbale after training of so many entrepreneurs in the Eastern region.

Here are few testimonials of some beneficiaries (from Northern Uganda who attended the training in Gulu, in December 2013) of the MTN Business training aimed at empowering entrepreneurs to grow:

Olweny Alfred- Nile Safari Millers

I gained knowledge and skills that will help me improve my business and I recommend this training to all my 2000 clients within the northern region. I thank MTN for thinking about us customers. This is the best training I have attended. My business will never be the same!

Okello Scovia- Doctor’s Café Gulu Clinic

This MTN training has key information that would build a better foundation for business. It has helped me change a lot about how I do my business. Please extend it to Board members in our companies because they are the people to drive the business initiatives. If the advice is followed, business success will come. Thanks to MTN and our trainers from Summit for the work well done. You guys are knowledgeable and practical.

Ogwal Patrick

I learnt a lot from the training, especially the topic on working capital management. Lack of cash flow management skills is the main cause of business failures. I recommend the MTN business training to all small and large scale business persons. This is one of the best corporate social responsibility initiatives from MTN I have enjoyed. Sponsoring such high quality training for us here in Gulu is a dream come true. Thank you MTN. Apoyo Matek, MTN! And thanks to our trainers from Summit Consulting.

Lutara Wilson, SWICO

I found the internal control system beneficial during the training and it will help me to control my business. Please extend this training to other districts. I look forward to attending the training when offered next year. Thanks MTN for supporting small businesses.

Charles (Gulu)

The facilitators were well informed and subjects covered are very critical to today’s business growth. I recommend this training to business owners, media houses and civil servants. I’ve been MTN customer for a long period, and this is the best gift I have enjoyed. The training has opened my eyes.

Opiro Jacob (Gulu Central High School)

The resources and knowledge learnt are beneficial the on-going improvement of my business. I recommend this training to all business persons. Thanks MTN for the knowledgeable facilitators from Summit Consulting. Look forward to next year’s training.

Paul Musoke- Abacus pharmacy (A) Ltd

Thank you MTN and our trainers (Summit Consulting). As a marketer, the training helped me network, consult and get as much contacts as possible. I also learnt a lot about using the Internet to grow business. When you sit in the room and listen to great exchanges, you realize you do not know a lot. I highly recommend it to my company and other stakeholders in business. Please come back again.

Oola Victor- Black winner investments Limited

The basic of internal controls has equipped me with skills on how to control assets of the organization against theft and fraud. I cannot wait for yet another opportunity. Thank you MTN for the training.

Oweka Denis- St. Mary’s hospital Lacor

The trainers from Summit Consulting are best. I liked the training on techniques of internal control and do recommend that it is extended to banking institutions and local government. Thank you MTN for giving back to your customers.


And that was not all. MTN has been so passionate about empowering Ugandan SMEs that the top leadership often attended the sessions and gave words of wisdom to the budding entrepreneurs. Here is Mazen’s three keys to success at work to entrepreneurs

MTN’s support to innovators and WomenInBusiness

MTN has been at the center of innovations in Uganda. In November 2015, MTN continued the tradition of identifying and supporting top innovators in the MTN’s innovations awards. This was a night to remember – bringing together top innovators, entrepreneurs and executives and offering more opportunities for growth.

And that is just it.

MTN is the architect of MTN Yellow Roses project that helps identify and celebrate the contribution of women entrepreneurs. Thanks to MTN, so many women have been able to tell and share their stories. MTN understands that all young Ugandans need role models to look up.

The MTN Women In Business awards has been a wonderful initiative. So many stories told. So many young people empowered.

Thanks to MTN so, many people have started businesses. In every trading centre in Uganda, you will MTN mobile money kiosk, air time shop and so many people making a living thanks to the decision by MTN group to start operations in Uganda.

In an effort to make solar energy affordable to Ugandans, MTN partnered with dynamic entrepreneurs and introduced ReadyPay, a low cost solar system that enables people in the village acquire solar at the cheapest cost.

The impact of MTN in Uganda cannot be summed up in one article. It has been a journey of so much firsts. And we know a lot more is on the way.

At Summit Business magazine we are happy to have been part of this journey. We started in October 2008, and in March 2009, MTN placed an advert in the magazine. In a country where magazine mortality rate is at 90%, that was a vote of confidence and trust that Summit Business is not any other magazine. MTN saw something special in us and we are happy that with that advert, we have been able to now make the SummitBusiness available in both digital and print. You can also subscribe via mobile money! It is good to see subscribers pay even while you are with family at the beach. We see digital subscription as the core future of our business.

At Summit Consulting Ltd, MTN gave us the confidence to sell across the region and Africa. As consultants, when you get the opportunity of implementing a project at MTN, you know you have to be in your topmost element. We all know that folks that go past the gate in any MTN office represent the best in their field. Any MTNner is an expert in their field. As MTN consultants we know this.

As a local firm, being there in the MTN board room, agreeing on value propositions, objectives and measures of success for an intervention is a good feeling. Whether it is implementing project management training, going deep into MS Excel’s data analytics capabilities or just support MTN Women In Business projects, you appreciate why MTN is a market leader.

Thanks to MTN, we walk into any boardroom of any multinational so easily. We believe in our capabilities. We’ve done it with the best and very intelligent folks at MTN. We have the confidence that can do it with anybody else.

As MTN says, with the right partner, everything is possible.

At Summit Consulting Ltd, we join you in celebrating your 18th anniversary in Uganda. All we can say is Ngiyabonga. Enkosi. Asante sana. Mwebaale muno. Thank you so very much!

May you continue growing and bring all Ugandans onto your ecosystem. May you transform mobile money into a platform so that any innovator and business person can easily connect and run a successful business on your mobile money platform. That is the future of mobile money. We know you are already working on it.

Copyright 2016 Summit Business magazine


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