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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Investing at a young age

27-year-old John Paul Ssemyalo, is the C.E.O, Ses Jolies Pieces, a Naguru-based export and import trade firm that offers a multiplicity of other services. DENNIS D. MUHUMUZA spoke to him:

'Ses Jolies Pieces' -that's rare for a company name
It's French for 'His Pretty Pieces.' We got that name because we started off by buying African artworks and crafts here and finding market for them abroad. We were targeting France in particular so we had to use a French name that could appeal to our clients.

You guys are into so many things. Are you real?
Yes we are. Our clients know it, and they come for more. We registered our company as a group of companies and with that you're able to do a whole lot more things.

Then you must be making pretty good cash ...
We make money but at the moment money is not the main focus. The company is only two years old and there is a lot we can still do. So to answer your question, yes we are making money but it's poured back into the company.

Are you a tough boss?
[Laughs] That, I think, can best be answered by my juniors. But yes, I'm a tough and shrewd entrepreneur when it comes to making business decisions because I'm a man of all seasons.

What do you mean you're a man of all seasons?
I lead a company that imports used Japanese cars, and exports African artworks and crafts. We do website development, graphics design, large format printing, interior design and event management. We also run a website called Uganda designs with an e-commerce section where people around the world can log in and buy artworks. We're one of a few Ugandan companies that have a credit card facility on our website. We are 'citius, altius and fortius' which means that we are faster, higher and stronger. I supervise all these activities and we are doing well. This makes me a man of all seasons.

So, as a man of all seasons, what do we find in your fridge?
A bottle of Bell Lager [laughs]

And how do you unwind after a busy day?
I work from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and only get to unwind when I get to my bed at night. Over the weekend, I hang out with my girlfriend, watch movies or go swimming at Kabira Country Club. I play Tennis as well.

Where are you from?
Masaka. I'm the son of John William Mukasa Mayanja and Esther Mayanja. At Makerere University I studied Industrial and Fine Art. I love abstract art. It's a marvel! You keep appreciating it. But I think my real calling is in doing business.

Any words for young people like you?
Yes. Young Ugandans should take the decision to go into self-employment. You shouldn't be money-minded in everything you do because money will always come. Be trustworthy and success will come. I also want to thank my mother for trusting in me and always being there for me.

Published in Sunday Monitor, December 10, 2006