When his father gave him $84 at age 16 to start a business that would engage him during the holidays, Haruna Sentogo took to selling women’s bags in a stall – which was the foundation of the now-successful businesses of the serial entrepreneur.
When he turned 18 in 2005, Haruna stepped into selling houses with the savings from his women’s bags business. He also sold office furniture at Ben Kiwanuka Street in Kampala, according to Real Muloodi, importing furniture from China to distribute them to homes, offices, and hotels in Uganda.
He expanded his venture once again and began importing clothes from China, Thailand, and Malaysia, stretching his distribution range beyond Uganda to Rwanda, Kenya, South Sudan, and Congo. He continued to save his profits till he could afford a major plot of land along Bombo Road in Wandegeya, and started the first phase of construction.
The young entrepreneur launched a limited liability company Haruna Enterprises in 2011. Through the company, he obtained loan facilities to finish his first property and also build other shopping malls, starting phase one of the well-renowned Haruna Towers, The Uganda Times reports.
In 2016, Haruna began producing water and soft beverages after realizing the high demand for affordable drinking water among the workers on his construction site. He established Nsangi Beverage Company, which manufactures View Water (a popular bottled mineral water) and Salaam Juice.
Haruna also established a skincare company called Cash and Roxy beauty-healthcare products, as well as some household items like candles, soap, detergents, and confectionaries.
Today, Haruna is the owner of several shopping malls, apartment complexes, and office buildings across Kampala. His leaseholders include Uganda’s biggest banks and many top-notch companies.
The young investor has a knack for investing and building in slum areas, where no one else would think to venture. This earned him the moniker, “The Slum Lord Millionaire.”
Haruna explained his decision to invest in Kisenyi Slum, a place well known for violent crimes and drug abuse, which he turned into a thriving commercial center.
According to him, there was very cheap land back in the day, which everyone refused to invest in because of the reputation of the area; however, Haruna only viewed it in comparison to another low-income area, Kubiri, where he built Haruna Towers.
The pacesetter envisioned transforming the location into a city-standard environment and purchased big plots of land to establish Segawa Market Complex. Today, what was once a place of crime and slums has over 320 shops where everything; from motorcycles, to spare parts and also food products are sold.
Due to his foresight, the complex has become the commercial hub of Kisenyi. It has attracted more businesses and investors, increasing Haruna’s profits.
Encouraging other young black people who may be aspiring to be entrepreneurs, Haruna said, “Start with anything anywhere, take risks. Do not use your age as an excuse, do not waste money. Start an affordable business…Know when to walk out of the business. Learn financial discipline. Get loans, but use them well, and lastly, put all your faith in God.”