For 42 years Charles Kareba has known no other job apart from clearing and forwarding.
Born in 1949 in Ntungamo District in a family of six, Kareba is the managing director and founder of Kargo International, a clearing and forwarding company.
He attended Mbarara Junior School for his primary education, before moving to King’s College Buddo, Mbarara and Teso College for his secondary education.
He holds a diploma in export marketing from Helsinki School of Economics and Business in Finland.
Kareba first worked with Uganda Co-operative Central Union as head of the export division, before moving to Trans-Ocean Uganda in early 1971.
“I applied for the post of exports manager and was given the job. Since then, I have never looked back,” he recalls, adding “it is from here that I got the skills to establish my own company.”
“We used to operate under the East African Community, which gave me a lot of exposure and inspiration,” he says.
At the time Kareba earned Shs3,200, which then was enough to give him a decent life where he was able to buy a car and build a house.
However, in 1994 Kareba quit his long time job establishing Kargo International together with a friend. For 20 years he has stuck to the business, which currently has its offices at Buganda Road opposite Buganda Road Court.
Kargo International, which Kareba established using Shs5m, has massively grown driving its annual earnings to more than Shs500m. The company employs 18 people on a permanent basis.
In its 20 years, Kargo International has built a chain of clients clearing cargo for more than 21 companies within Uganda.
Key among the companies is Toyota Uganda, Civil Aviation Authority, CMC Motors Group and Kilembe Mines among others.
However, in the last decade, Mr Kabera says they have seen a build up in competition, which has led to the growth of bad practices within the industry.
Even with the tight competition, Kareba says: “I have had to keep away from politicians and government businesses, because of their unethical practices,” which as he says is practiced through kickbacks “something which I don’t believe in”.
He says his transparent principles might have had a negative impact on his business, “but am not ashamed to reject any compromising situation that might depict me as unethical”.
Challenges and aice to traders
Kareba’s biggest challenge has been the troubles that he goes through while dealing with some of URA staff. “Most of them are incompetent but URA is assisting us. They are being trained. So, many of them are becoming aware of our needs,” he says.
Additionally, he says, dealing with ignorant traders has been a challenge given that many of them don’t know much about clearing and forwarding.
The cost of loans, according to Kareba has also become a major challenge given that it has made the cost of access to money more expensive. Currently interest rates stand at a market average of 24 per cent. However, Kareba aises that it is important that traders deal with companies that are well established given the risk associated with clearing and forwarding.