Thanks for landing on my business blog. I had a great opportunity to interview Tonny Rutakirwa — an Entrepreneur, Author, Coach, Philanthropist. In this interview we discussed about how this great entrepreneur uses his skills to build his empire- “The Story of Building A Global Conglomerate From Scratch”.
Tonny Rutakirwa is a conscientious entrepreneur growing a multi – sectoral multinational out of London, United Kingdom. He is Chairman of Tonniez Group Holdings, which he founded in East Africa on 28th December 2008 and is the author of 7 titles on entrepreneurship and talent growth.
He is also Corporate Affairs Director, Europe for Kizito Group of Companies where he oversees all public engagements for the company there. He has traveled widely in Africa, Asia and Europe. A mentor, he has spoken at large public fora intended to spring young people into their various destinies.
His private company operates a chain of 28 businesses and 588 co – brands in Africa and Europe with plans to grow a Fortune 500 company in 10 years. He strongly believes that science is the work of knowledge but art is the work of wisdom.
Check out his website for more.
I have divided the interview into three different sections to understand how he started his business and built a global conglomerate and moved forward so fast with a vision to change the world. Lets enjoy the interview.
The Story of Building A Global Conglomerate From Scratch
Childhood, Family Ethnicity, Education, and location:
Tonny Rutakirwa was born in Uganda’s capital Kampala in 1990, He attended Salvation Army Nursery school, Lohana Academy for his Primary Education, Namirembe Hillside High School for his O’ level and completed his A’ level at London College of St Lawrence.
He later proceeded to get a degree in technology from the Asia Pacific University College of Technology and Innovation (UCTI – APIIT) Malaysia. The genius became a business expert from his childhood, in a continent where business was thought to be an adult affair. He made his first million while in primary school, at age 10.
He has since gained greater heights in business and has become a huge employer of labour, which points to the fact that success is not measured by age, if it were, you can bet that many things would have gone differently; no one would imagine that young Tonny Rutakirwa would today be named as one of the wealthiest men in Uganda.
Q 1: What made you take the leap into entrepreneurship?
Deep seated vision, clear purpose and a desire to make a difference. I have always believed it’s better to do what we can do to leave this world a better place rather than complaining about what needs to be done.
Q 2: How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
While younger, I asked myself why there wasn’t anyone providing exhaustive solutions, services and products under a single brand. I looked around but didn’t see anyone. I decided then to create exactly what I saw in my mind. It’s a work in progress, but a tremendous value to humanity.
Q 3: What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business’ success?
My Team is the most influential factor for the business success.
Q 4: What has been your greatest moment of success?
Q 5: What best motivates you? How have your entrepreneurial motivations changed since you first started?
Touching lives. My passion has always been to wage a pre-emptive war against global poverty, which eradicates disease and conflict to a huge degree.
What has changed, as change comes daily, is the method/ approach, strategy, tactic and how exactly we should define success.
Section Two :
Q 1. What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
Wow! You are a great interviewer! Well, the biggest hurdles I faced (and still face) revolved around picking the right people for my team, those that could be trusted with grace and love – in linear terms, with secrets and responsibility, with commitments and loyalty, with true power.
Q 2. What is the biggest mistake you’ve made as an entrepreneur?
Revealing too much. It’s crucial and wouldn’t be expressed enough, the value of keeping ones cards to oneself.
Q 3. Share some of your failures and the best lessons you have learned from them?
Taking risk with other people’s money. Naturally I am a huge risk taker, I win big or fail big. I don’t function well in mediocrity; I don’t bask on middle ground. I don’t think in terms of grey, but in shades of white of black. As a result, 99% of my failures muddle around this.
Q 4. What makes you feel out of your comfort zone? What are your ways to handle these situations?
The comfort zone is a dangerous place to be. No growth exists there. It’s actually wiser to mould your thrill, joy and happiness outside your comfort zone.
Tonniez Group President, Bardia Suny, always reminds me not to overestimate the risk of piracy and under estimate the price of obscurity. The handling naturally sprouts from here.
Q 5. What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
Comfort, instant gratification, and many times being humble enough to lose the battle in order to win the war, in all aspects of livelihood.
Q 1. If you could talk to one person from history, who would it be and why?
Jesus Christ, because he was (and still is) the master of leadership, the greatest leader of all time.
Q 2. What’s your favorite quote for describing entrepreneurship?
“Do. Or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda, Jedi Master.
Q 3. How would you rank the key 5 skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
- Unshakable faith, which births persistence, and develops a thick skin.
- Clear focus, cultivated by spending time alone and meditation.
- Integrity especially to oneself, nothing will matter than being true to yourself.
- Choosing the right team, both personal and professional.
- Love, every other thing will sprout from this, this will depend on which direction love takes you.
Q 4. What 3 books would you recommend that every entrepreneur read?
- In Search of Excellence by Tom Peters
- Built to Last by Jim Collins
- Winning by Jack Welch
Q 5. If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
Find mentorship. It’s crucial to take advice from the right people, to ignore failure and to keep moving forward no matter what obstacles are placed in front of you. Quitting doesn’t exist in the vocabulary of true champions.
Rutakirwa has received several awards including Young Achievers Awards in Uganda (2010) presided over by Uganda President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, Africa Leadership Awards in Mauritius (2014) and International Biographical Awards in UK (2014).
He has also been featured on and been interviewed by Urban TV, WBS TV, XtraOrdinary TV, KonnectAfrica.net, Red Pepper Uganda, The Rock Magazine, ForesightforDevelopment.org, BigEye.ug, Business Owner Magazine, CEO magazine, and BreakThrough Academy.
I had an excellent experience while interviewing this great entrepreneur. Before taking the interview, I contacted him several times and explored his excellent communication, friendly attitude and cooperative nature. I have learned a lot from this interview. Hope this will also be beneficial to you too. Happy Learning.
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