Patrick and Carol Bitature began SimbaTelecom in 1998 with a simple but powerful idea - communication should be a right, not a luxury. The mobile phone had the power to connect people, improve livelihoods and provide information to everyone anywhere. At the time though, only a few thousand Ugandans had access to mobile phones as they were considered a product for the ultra wealthy. The Bitatures believed that with an efficient distribution model and expansive retail network, they could turn their dream into a reality.
What started out as Patrick and Carol working late into the night in their first shop in Uganda turned into the largest airtime distributor, mobile phone retailer, and mobile money distributor in East Africa.
While Simba Telecom achieved continuous success in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, Patrick chose to continue to follow the entrepreneurial philosophy he had developed at a young age: find a real customer need, take a calculated risk, and deliver the best possible quality of goods and service possible. This entrepreneurial spirit coupled with the understanding that the Group needed to find “new waves” to ride, led Simba Group to make key strategic investments in a number of areas, including property development, power generation, agriculture, micro- finance and media.
One of the largest areas of development in the last five years have been in property development including office blocks, and the successful Protea Hotel. Simba also wanted to attack the lack of access to electricity that is holding back general economic development. Simba Group, through Electro-Maxx, has now commissioned its second power plant and is the first indigenous independent power plant anywhere in Africa. Additionally, Simba has interests in mining, with a gold mine in South West Uganda and other potential mining interests. Most recently, Simba started an integrated agribusiness/renewable power business in the previously war torn North of the country to promote food and power security.
Simba Group was recently recognized for these achievements by World Economic Forum as one of sixteen Global Growth Companies from Africa.
Simba Group’s objectives are about more than just building an empire. Patrick has a deep love for his country and his continent and focuses on making sure that his professional and personal efforts contribute to the development of Uganda and Africa.
In addition to the impact of Patrick and Carol’s companies on the region, Patrick dedicates a significant amount of his time to activities that are important to the economy, such as serving as the Chairman of the Private Sector Foundation and the Chairman of the power distributor (Umeme). Patrick and Carol serve on the Boards of various charitable institutions and the Group has an active Corporate Social Responsibility programme.