Captains of Industry: Richard Byarugaba

In the early 2000s, I was a young techie building a mobile company called True African. We were in the same building as Nile Bank. Richard Byarugaba was the bank’s Chief Executive.

In an elevator from the ground to the 3rd floor, I gave Richard an elevator pitch.

My pitch; I can cut your banking hall queues in half within a month, by moving all inquiries from your counters to the mobile phone via SMS.

Richard’s response; Can you do it in 2 weeks?

We did. And that is how Nile Bank launched Uganda’s first “mobile banking” service.

That pitch was the beginning of a long collaboration. We built his Internet Banking, another first with a handful of internet users in Uganda then. Together we pushed the limits of self-service to all sorts of transactions until the bank was acquired by Barclays.

Uganda is full of interesting CEs, very few are willing to bet on a Ugandan-built solution however cutting edge. All it took for Richard was an elevator pitch, in the early 2000s!

If this country has any Captains of Industry, Richard Byarugaba is close to the top of that list.