Business and Entrepreneurship

WHEN I BARTERED MY FATHER’S BICYCLE WITH FISH.

In 1999, we had just completed our UACE final exams, so we planned a holiday with my friend Hon. Ronald Afidra, to his village in Rhino Camp along River Nile. Ronald is now MP for his constituency.

I ask for permission from my parents, for which they granted and even rendered me their brand-new Phoenix bicycle. Ronald had his too.

We set off for a 60km ride. 20km into our journey, we were intercepted by ‘bicycle road tax collectors’. Those days there was a road license for bicycles. Ronald’s bicycle didn’t have the tax. We didn’t have the money to pay it either. So, we made a plan that as soon as we approach them, we pretend like we are stopping, and then we engage the gear and take off. It worked very well. They attempted to chase us for like 5 km but gave up. We rode all the way to Rhino Camp with our tongues out.

We took an adventure expedition on River Nile in a canoe. It was my first time seeing a canoe. Somehow, I didn’t know how to balance the canoe, so we ended up capsizing. By the time I was rescued, I had guzzled enough water. Despite that unfortunate incident, it was 7 fun-filled days.

Breakfast, lunch and supper was all fresh fish. In Rhino Camp, eating beans was like Christmas celebration.

It is when the time to go back home came that I faced the real hassle alone. From Arua town to Rhino camp, it is an easy ride because it is a slope all the way down. Now I had to face the uphill task -to climb with my bicycle.

And then I envisaged coming across the tax collectors; won’t they recall my face?

It is against this background that I hatched a plan to sell the bicycle and just return home with cash. But there was no ready buyer with cash. The only buyer I got had a box of dry fish for which he wanted to exchange for the bicycle. After our negotiation, I took my box of fish and boarded a pickup truck to Arua town. I had some pocket money, which became my transport fees.

When I reached home on a boda-boda, my dad asked me about the bicycle and I just showed him the box of fish. Whereas the fish was cheap in Rhino Camp, it was worth two bicycles when sold in Arua town. That is what gave me the confidence to surrender my parents’ bicycle.

Indeed, after selling off the fish, I was able to buy my parents’ Phoenix Bicycle and still had a balance that was spent on home necessities.

An entrepreneur must make decisions, especially if the decision is financially sound. I perhaps would have not made it in a good shape if I rode the bicycle alone back to Arua. But I reached safe in a motor vehicle and we still had a new bicycle with profits.

Many times, we fear to take risks. But as a matter of fact, an entrepreneur must learn to take risks.

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A'ita Jaffer Joel
An Infrastructure Consultant, Entrepreneur and Motivational Speaker. CEO Joadah Consult

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