Business magnate Bulaimu Muwanga Kibirige — better known as BMK — who died on September 10 at the age of 67, was described as a selfless man. When he was diagnosed with terminal prostrate cancer, BMK chose to share his entrepreneurial knowledge and experiences in an autobiography titled, My Story of Building a Fortune in Africa, which was published about three months before his death.
The book describes how a primary seven dropout worked to build a successful multinational business empire. He was introduced to the world of business at the age of 13 as an apprentice at his father Hajj Ali Kibirige’s coffee trading business and restaurant in Masaka.
After sitting for his Primary Leaving Examinations in 1968, he started working for his father full time to learn the ropes. His stint at his father's restaurant taught him the food business and piqued his interest in the hospitality industry and in 1997 he launched Hotel Africana, a popular hotel in Kampala, which has branches in Moroto, eastern Uganda, and Lusaka, Zambia.
In 1974, he got private tuition to improve his grasp of the English language and also enhance his accounting skills. In 1978, he started flying to Hong Kong, where he bought clothes, handbags, shoes and electronics for selling.
While in exile in Nairobi in the early 1980s, he partnered with a Kenyan businesswoman to form Kowloon Fashions, which dealt in clothes and imported used cars and spare parts from Hong Kong for sale in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia. He returned to Uganda in 1986 and set up BMK Uganda Ltd. Today, the Kampala-headquartered conglomerate operates in Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, South Sudan, Zambia and the DR Congo.