A photo montage of some of the top CEOs of 2021
Every year, Business Focus unveils the best Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and Managing Directors of companies basing on milestones published in the media or shared in public spaces.
Uganda’s top business/finance journalists make selections of these CEOs basing on the financial performance of their companies, growth and business deals executed.
CEOs and Managing Directors make daily decisions of the institutions they lead, supported by an oversight role of the Board of Directors.
Despite a difficult year that has seen COVID-19 pandemic continue to adversely affect private sector and performance of the economy, some companies were resilient partly because their managers exhibited exceptional leadership ethos.
In no particular order, below are Business Focus’ top CEOs of 2021.
Wim Vanhelleputte, MTN Uganda Chief Executive Officer
The CEO of MTN Uganda, which started operations in 1998, managed to secure a 12-year renewal of its license in June 2020 after paying $100 million mandatory fees to government.
In addition, the company was tasked to list at least 20% of its shares on the local market, which now has 17 stocks.
MTN finally listed on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE), trading commenced immediately. This was the largest Initial Public Offering (IPO) in Uganda’s history, raising a record Shs535 billion from applications for 2.9 billion shares (including incentive shares).
The listing process gave slightly over 20, 000 Ugandans an opportunity to own part of the company.
MTN Uganda, which has 15 million subscribers, reported revenues of Shs1.9 trillion in 2020, up 9.3% from the previous year, and a pre-tax profit of Shs460.3 billion last year, up 21.3%.
Dr. Emmanuel Iyamulemye, UCDA Managing Director
Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) had a record-breaking year. Under the stewardship of Iyamulemye, UCDA saw the volume of coffee produced increase from 7.75 million 60 kg bags in FY 2019/20 to 8.06 million 60 kg bags in FY 2020/21, an increase of 4%. Uganda’s coffee exports in August 2021 increased to 700,990 60 kg bags worth US$ 75.09 million, while coffee exports for the 12 months (September 2020-August 2021) amounted to 6,414,696 60-kilo bags worth US$ 607.81 million compared to 5,216,608-kilo bags valued at US$ 502.24 million the previous year (September 2019-August 2020). The quantity of coffee exported in August was the highest in a single month, while the total export quantity in 12 months was the highest in 30 years. Uganda has also climbed to 7th position in the latest global rankings of the top 10 coffee producers in the world. Further, in August 2021, Uganda overtook Vietnam as the second-largest supplier of coffee to Italy behind Brazil. UCDA has also entered into a formal partnership with religious and cultural institutions to expand the acreage of coffee countrywide.
It’s also worth noting that Uganda coffee has in recent years received positive coverage and publicity by both local and international media. It is therefore not surprising that UCDA was recognized by the Visionaries of Uganda at the 9th edition of the Awards held on Thursday 2nd December 2021 for its regulatory role in the coffee sub sector and its contribution to the country’s economy. Given UCDA’s recent achievements and clear direction, the Minister of Agriculture found no reason not to renew Iyamulemye’s 5-year contract.
Jennifer Bamuturaki, Ag. CEO, Uganda Airlines
Under Bamuturaki’s leadership, Uganda Airlines has achieved a lot in 2021. The national carrier officially had its maiden international flight to Dubai in October and it has since been described as successful. Due to the growing passenger traffic on the Dubai route, the airline increased weekly flights to Dubai to four, up from three. The Airline is plying the route using the newly acquired Airbus. Bamuturaki played a big role as Uganda Airlines successfully got the Airbus A330-800neo (new engine option) aircraft included on the Air Operator Certificate (AOC) fleet listing in August 2021. Without this milestone, Uganda Airlines wouldn’t be flying to Dubai.
Uganda Airlines has also been granted approval to begin flights to London Heathrow Airport (LHR). Plans to fly to China are in pipeline. The airline also featured one of its A330-800neo (new engine option) aircraft at the Dubai Airshow in November 2021. Bamuturaki has also seen the national carrier enter into strategist partnerships with a number of organizations and agencies both locally and internationally. At the Dubai Airshow, Uganda Airlines signed an agreement with Airbus Flight Hour Services Company, a subsidiary of Airbus, for A330 aircraft spare parts support services.
The company will basically position a consignment of critical aircraft’s spare parts in Entebbe to support day to day spare parts requirements for the smooth operations of the airline. They will also give unlimited access to their pool of many thousands of spares on exchange basis, such that when a spare part breaks down on the aircraft, Uganda airlines will immediately send it to them in exchange for a good working one, then they repair the broken one and return it to the pool.
Mathias Katamba, dfcu CEO
Under Katamba’s leadership, dfcu has come up with several innovations aimed at serving customers better. Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, dfcu posted good financial performance in the first half of 2021 with consolidated net profit after tax increasing by 33% from Shs29.1billion in June 2020 to Shs38.8billion in June 2021. The upside in profit performance was attributed to 23% growth in net income. Under its umbrella campaign dubbed ‘Banking at the Speed of U!’, the bank announced a new enhancement to its digital services, with the introduction of Cardless Deposit Functionalities across the country. With the new service, both dfcu and non-dfcu customers are able to make free cash deposits into any dfcu Bank account using dfcu ATMs countrywide. The development followed the bank’s recent replacement of its ATM fleet with new Smart ATM recyclers, which in addition to cash withdrawals and statement provisions, accepts card and cardless deposits from customers.
John R. Musinguzi, URA Commissioner General
Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has a huge task of collecting Shs22.363 trillion in the FY 2021/22 which is Shs3.1trillion over and above last year’s collections.
Despite the COVID-19 impact on the economy, URA under Musinguzi’s leadership has generally performed well. The tax body collected net revenue of Shs4.459 trillion in the first quarter of FY 2021/22, posting a growth of 9.57 percent in comparison to the FY 2020/21. In nominal terms, this reflects a growth in revenue of Shs389.47 billion. However, outturn of the first quarter was short by Shs499.49 billion. The revenue target for the remaining period of the FY 2021/2022 (October 2021 to June 2022) is Shs17.404 trillion. During the first quarter of the FY 2021/22, 65,666 new taxpayers were added to the taxpayer register. By the end of September 2021, the taxpayer register had 1,849,159 taxpayers.
URA was further awarded Shs200 billion in revenue after winning 21 court cases in the first quarter of FY 2021/22.
URA also became the first organization in Uganda to introduce braille technology for the visually impaired. The rationale of introducing braille technology in tax education is to simplify tax education and make it available for everyone regardless of their physical and health status.
Additionally, URA has lately come up with innovations aimed at growing revenue collections.
Keith Kalyegira, CEO at Capital Markets Authority
The CMA boss oversaw the long awaited MTN IPO, including a challenge in the High Court. Despite its challenges, the process was successfully concluded and the company listed.
Capital markets have been growing throughout the year with Collective Investment Schemes (CIS) up by 88.4% in a single year to Shs731.9bn, on course to meet the CMA’s target of Shs1 trillion in the four-year National Development Plan III.
Equally impressive has been the growth of Fund Managers’ Assets Under Management by 14.5% to over Shs4 trillion. Going forward, the capital markets are set to witness the listing of Airtel Uganda which will pave way for Uganda’s entry onto the Morgan Stanley Index and enable Uganda attract large cap institutional investors.
Anne Juuko, CEO Stanbic Bank Uganda
Stanbic Bank was the lead transaction advisor for MTN Uganda, the largest IPO in Africa in 2021. Juuko played a crucial role in creating awareness about the IPO together with SBG Securities (lead sponsoring broker for the transaction).
Meanwhile, Stanbic’s half-year financial results showed that customer deposits increased to Shs5.7 trillion in June 2021 compared to Shs5.2trn in June 2020, indicating a 9.5% growth despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy.
Its assets also grew by 9.8% driven by an increase in loans and advances amounting to Shs3.8 trillion compared to Shs3.4 trillion in June 2020. This contributed to Stanbic Uganda Holdings Limited Shs154.9 billion in Profit after tax (PAT) representing an impressive 21.5% growth from the same period last year.
Growth in PAT was mainly driven by strong growth in trade revenue which accounted for Shs37.5 billion as well as better management of loan impairments, which reduced by Shs11.7 billion as compared to the same period last year.
Sudhir Ruparelia, Chairman, Ruparelia Group of Companies
Sudhir is Uganda’s richest man. He runs a chain of businesses under the Ruparelia Group of Companies. In 2021, he continued investing heavily in the real estate sector by unveiling new buildings in Kampala city despite the impact of COVID-19 on businesses.
Sudhir also secured an injunction against the Bank of Uganda’s move to place Crane Bank (in receivership) under liquidation. His son, Rajiv Ruparelia, who is a Managing Director in many of Sudhir’s companies has also performed exceptionally well in 2021. Besides managing businesses, Rajiv also performed well in motor sport rallying. The rally driver emerged winner of the Kabalega rally held in Hoima.
Richard Byarugaba, NSSF Managing Director
Despite the COVID-19 impact, savers with the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) received an impressive 12.5% as interest rate on their savings for the financial year 2020/21. The figure was higher than the 10.75% declared for the previous year.
The rate declared translated into a total of Shs1.52 trillion that was shared among members, higher than the Shs1.14 trillion that was paid to members previously. With Uganda’s economy dented by covid, it is commendable that the fund was able to pay members a higher interest rate.
In fact, performance highlights indicates that the fund’s assets increased by 17% from Shs13.3 trillion to Shs15.5 trillion while comprehensive income increased by 25% from Shs1.47 trillion to Shs1.84 trillion.
Michael Mugabi, Housing Finance Bank MD
Housing Finance Bank has played a key role in reducing the housing deficit in Uganda over the years. However, under Mugabi’s leadership, the bank has entered into a number of partnerships with different developmental partners to facilitate the deployment of an affordable housing offer, enabling them to diversify the mortgage loan offer to include low and middle-income population who currently do not have access to an adequate financial offer from most commercial banks.
Housing Finance Bank also received recognition as the first (1st) runner up in the Uganda Revenue Authority Awards under the Excel category.
The bank was applauded for being key in the Banking and Mortgage finance industry having stood the test of time over the years, evolving into a fully-fledged commercial bank. The award was a significant milestone demonstrating the outstanding work being done at the bank.
Mercy K. Kainobwisho, URSB Registrar General
Kainobwisho’s leadership has seen URSB come up with a number of innovations. URSB with its partners has trained many entrepreneurs on a number of subjects including intellectual property. URSB also launched an Intellectual Property (IP) Online Filing (Front Office) System that is designed to enable the public file for IP protection remotely over the internet. The tool is used for receiving Intellectual property applications for trademarks. The system enables IP rights holders with access to the internet to be able to file their applications with URSB from the comfort of their homes.
URSB also successfully hosted the Corporate Registers Forum Conference in November. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, the conference was held virtually with over 250 participants from member states from Africa, Asia, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Europe taking part.
Julius Kakeeto, PostBank CEO
Having been at the bank for close to two years, Kakeeto transformed PostBank into a full-fledged commercial bank. In December 2021, Bank of Uganda issued PostBank with the bank license for tier one. Based on the Financial Institutions Act (2004) definition of a commercial bank, PostBank shall no longer be categorized as a credit institution but as a deposit taking financial institution that gives loans for the purposes of consumption and investment to make profit. In 2020, the bank posted a net profit of Shs10bn, which is the highest in the bank’s history.
Abel Mwesigye, KACITA Uganda CEO
He is rarely in the news but all what KACITA Uganda, an umbrella body for traders, does is up to this man. He is the man behind the day to day running of KACITA and the deals the agency inks with key partners. One of the deals saw KACITA partner with Uganda Airlines whereby traders will get preferential treatment while flying to Dubai. KACITA also vigorously engaged Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Trade Industry and Cooperatives over taxes on textiles. The traders opposed taxation based on the volume of the import as opposed to percentage of the value. The traders’ body also entered into a partnership with Stanbic Bank to ease importation of goods from Asian markets as well as enhance tax compliance.
Kumaran Pather, CEO I&M Bank (Uganda) Limited
First of all, when I&M Group Plc became the major shareholder of Orient Bank, with a 90 percent stake, in April 2021, Kumaran Pather retained his position as the CEO of the bank. He oversaw Orient Bank successfully rebrand into I&M Bank (Uganda) Limited. Pather has a huge task now of ensuring that the bank posts consistent positive performance given the fact that the bank has largely been making losses in the last five years.
Dr Samuel Oledo, President Uganda Medical Association
Uganda Medical Association (UMA) headed by Dr Samuel Oledo and Dr Edith Nakku as President and Vice President respectively together with Federation of Uganda Medical Interns (FUMI) leadership led a successful strike that saw Government bow to pressure to increase medical interns’ allowances and pay the unpaid allowances.
Patricia Ojangole, UDB Managing Director
Ojangole was named Sustainability Leader of the Year 2021 during the Karlsruhe Sustainable Awards ceremony held annually in Germany. Awarded by the International Council of Sustainability Standards for Value Driven Financial Institutions during the 2nd World Development Finance Forum (WDFF), the accolade is given to individuals and/or institutions that demonstrate commitment to creating value for all their stakeholders and the environment.
It is important to note that early December 2021, UDBL co-hosted the World Development Finance Forum 2021 – a global gathering of financial sector players drawn from policy makers, regulators, and leaders from the financial sector from 50 countries, to examine cutting-edge solutions for financing the post-pandemic economy and the Sustainable Development Goals.
Unlike before, UDB has simplified access to credit for women entrepreneurs as well as Small and Medium Enterprises. UDB also recently unveiled a thematic campaign aimed at drawing attention to the national “can do” spirit with a message that taps into the inspiration, persistence and achievements of ordinary Ugandans that together drives everyday development and growth.
Aeko Ongodia, CEO Xeno Technologies, Inc
Ongodia is known for financial advisory, financial planning, financial analysis, retirement planning, and wealth management.
His Xeno Technologies, an investment fund has attracted Shs1.3bn in voluntary savings which is invested in a diversified portfolio of unit trust funds. Given the low level of savings in Uganda, to attract Shs1.3bn in voluntary savings is no mean achievement. The company has over 15,000 people saving and investing with it.
Prof. Pontiano Kaleebu, Executive Director Uganda Virus Research Institute
Kaleebu is a Ugandan physician, clinical immunologist, HIV/AIDS researcher, academic and medical administrator. He has managed to run the institute with no public scandals. He has also stuck to his field of science and managed to get Ugandans to trust science. Uganda Virus Research Institute has been key in COVID-19 tests in Uganda.
Mathias Mpuuga, Leader of Opposition
He is a CEO in his own right. Mpuuga led a protest against unlawful incarceration of MPs Allan Ssewanyana and Muhammad Ssegirinya. Opposition stayed away from plenary for three sittings until the two were produced in court and given medical care. Mpuuga has also been advocating for unconditional release of other Ugandans who were ‘kidnapped’ by the State and haven’t been tried in Courts of law.
He has also led shadow cabinet to provide alternative policies on issues like Parish Development Model and Fiscal policy. The shadow cabinet sits every Tuesday to discuss their strategy and business. This hasn’t been the case before.
Charles Ocici, Executive Director at Enterprise Uganda
Ocici has managed to run Enterprise Uganda for many years without any public money-related scandal. His organization has been critical in educating Ugandans on how to grow and run businesses sustainably. Ocici and Enterprise Uganda have been at the forefront of sensitizing business owners on how to survive the COVID-19 induced lockdowns and the impact they come with on businesses and the economy at large.
Prof. Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile, Governor Bank of Uganda
Through a cautious monetary policy stance, Mutebile and his team have kept Uganda’s economy generally stable and running amid COVID-19. Inflation has been contained within BoU’s target of 5% and the Shilling has remained generally stable against major currencies.
Prof. Patrick Ogwang, CEO Jena Herbals Uganda Limited
Prof. Ogwang is probably Uganda’s personality of the year. He invented Covidex, a COVID-19 supplementary drug. Many Ugandans have testified that the wonder drug has worked for them. He has definitely played a big role in saving lives.
Ponsiano Ngabirano, Managing Director, Capital Shoppers Supermarkets
Ngabirano is the founder, chairman and managing director of Capital Shoppers Supermarkets, a chain of supermarket stores in Uganda. While many big supermarkets including Shoprite, Nakumatt and Uchumi have exited the Ugandan market, Capital Shoppers has remained steadfast and continues to serve the public diligently. Credit goes to Ngabirano who has ensured good corporate governance for the company.
Other CEOs that made to the list include Judy Rugasira, the Managing Director at Knight Frank Uganda (She has consistently given tips to investors on how to invest in real estate sector in light of COVID-19 pandemic. Knight Frank is also managing many buildings in Kampala), Daniel Cherutich, the General Manager at Stabex International that is giving giants like Total and Shell a run for their money, Fabian Kasi, the Managing Director at Centenary Bank (he has kept the bank performing well), Amos Wekesa, the CEO of Great Lakes Safaris Ltd and Uganda Lodges (despite COVID-19, he has kept Uganda’s tourism potential alive through his regular posts on Facebook. He has remained the face of the country’s tourism. He also ventured into agro-processing as a way of diversification), Daniel Birungi, the Executive Director at Uganda Manufacturers, who kept urging Government to provide a stimulus package to the private sector and Selestino Babungi, the Managing Director at Umeme. Despite challenges, Umeme, the country’s leading power distributor connected 125,000 new customers to the grid in the 11 months to November 2021.This represents a 54% growth in new connections from 57,000 recorded in the same period in 2020.
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