I first met Ms. Regina Mukibi, the late founder and proprietor of Uganda Funeral Services, who passed away today, June 29th 2021, back in early August, 2010. Soon after the death of President Godfrey Binaisa, I was assigned by the family to coordinate his burial arrangements with the State. When I went to Uganda Funeral Services home, down in Bukuto, to finalize the programme I found waiting a calm fair skinned lady who received me with much courtesy. As I peppered her questions, I noticed she was a hands on detailed person and I left most satisfied with her business management. She was a winner.
Perhaps it was because of that incident why thereon I would often whenever teaching an MBA class in strategic management I had to ask my students if there was any taker to start a business of “selling cemetery plots!” From my analysis with increased urbanization and land scarcity it is only a matter of time before the traditional ancestral burial grounds die off. In many cases we have found ourselves taking back the deceased to long abandoned up country homes, since all the children have long left for the city or went global. But if there was one bold entrepreneurial Ugandan who could start selling peri- urban cemetery plots as a closed estate for burials, which could be more organized and assured of attention, that would save many traveling back to distant places, long deserted, where the villagers view suspiciously these strangers coming with their expensive caskets… (Food for thought)!
Need I say that always my students burst out laughing! And why? This is because culturally, here we know we don’t want to get into the business of being charged with responsibility for the dead. Our African cultures are reeked with all kinds of superstition coupled with a good dose of witchcraft which makes virtually any shy away from this type of business- although it thrives well in South Africa with their sizeable European extract population!
So, this is where I return to Regina as someone I came to respect and greatly admire. When she came up with the innovative idea of “funeral homes” many considered her out of her mind. I understand she had really to struggle to find a neighborhood that could accept a mortuary in the hood. But she persisted and the rest is history.
Today, many of us, do not even bother to think when we lose a loved a one. Funeral companies abound. Just also imagine the jobs and tax contribution to our economy that has spawned out of this lady’s innovation! I lost recently a relative and I found the pressure and intricacies involved in transporting the deceased, hosting the mourners, digging and finishing the grave construction, were all relieved from us by one good funeral company.
As an industry pioneer Ms Regina Mukibi has left an indelible mark on Uganda’s business. Not only would she pioneer a rare type of business but she maintained it as a market leader even as copy cats invaded her turf, that up to the time of her death, her outfit was still a market leader. So, sad to lose her, when she was most needed. Mukama amuwe’ ekiwuumulo ekye’mirembe!
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