While he envied the few successful people in his neighbourhood, dealing with absolute poverty robbed him of a right to even dream about rising above the shadows of lack that mounted his path to every possible venture.
Freeing himself from the shackles of poverty was definitely an uphill climb but grabbing every streak of opportunity that lit through, Nelson Mpaata maintained the zeal to overcome his devastating situation, even when he, many a times, crawled inches closer to giving up on life, on everything.
The then Mpaata who believed that owning a car was a no go dream for him and his other circle of destitute friends now owns a car dealership company and drives a car of his dreams, but this achievement wasn’t at no huge cost, as he took us through the struggles encountered on his long way to betterment.
In a village where Mpaata grew up, down in Kamuli, driving was a preserve for the super rich, from the tales locals only heard about from distant relatives who were better off.
At their home, dreaming big, even at a small length, was unheard of, for getting a daily meal was more fulfilling than tens of unforeseen, unguaranteed achievements.
Speaking to ChimpReports, Mpaata revealed that his household was always lacking basic necessities, and sleeping on an empty stomach had become an expected occurrence.
“We had to work various blue jobs in the village to be able to earn some nickels to buy food,” Mpaata said.
Mpaata has, however, left that life far behind, it’s a foggy and almost erased memory that he doesn’t have to deal with anymore. He not only drives but deals in car importation and exportation under his company, Mpaatanel Company Ltd, a business that has gained trust as one of the best car dealers in Uganda.
His long journey to the top
Mpaata told ChimpReports that when he left the village (after making a hard decision to) his first job was working in an internet café where he was employed by a friend.
The business, according to Mpaata, deteriorated when the owner used the money from it to invest in a pyramid scheme, losing it all in the process.
As a result, the business closed shop, meaning Mpaata had to hit the road again, in search of a new job. This job hunting session led him to KFC in 2014, where he worked as a waiter.
At KFC, Mpaata recalls doing pretty much everything; being a waiter, attending to the kitchen section as well vending chicken around his work place.
He went ahead to reveal that he acquired a loan of Shs 1 million at KFC which he used to set up a small salon in Kinawataka, Kireka a Kampala suburb where he worked as a nail technician, a skill he had acquired from a friend.
The salon, however, wasn’t making money as he had expected and that prompted him to apply for a job at Caduum, a company that deals in importation of cars.
Fortunately, luck was on his side and Mpaata was employed and he worked as a salesperson for a short time before he would get fired.
He was fired only three months later, having failed to hit the company’s sales target.
“We were expected to sell at least 30 cars every month. I never even sold half of that while I was there,” he said.
“My dismissal at Cadum was a blessing in disguise because I used the knowledge gained from Cadum to establish myself in the car dealership sphere,” he said.
Securing his spot in car dealership
After successfully venturing into the business of car importation for some time, one of Mpaata’s friends suggested that it would be a good move to register ‘Mpaatanel,’ as a company and start trading professionally.
“I didn’t take it serious at first, but I finally thought it was necessary. I registered the company in 2018.”
Why Mpaatanel of all names?
Well, Mpaatanel comes from a combination of my name, Mpaata Nelson and I decided to call it my name following what I went through way back when I was completely hopeless.
Mpaatanel, he says, has grown from employing one person (himself) to over 10 people today. They do not only import cars, but also help anyone who would want a car shipped in or out of the country.
Importing cars, however, stands as the flagship service for the company.
The company is a certified BE FORWARD agent in Uganda. Mpaatanel also deals is tours and travel.
What do you think put Mpaatanel where it is?
When I joined the business, I figured that there was a challenge of delayed delivery of cars from Mombasa to Kampala. Most companies or traders will take a month or more to import the car here from Mombasa. At Mpaatanel, we take only three days or even less.
What makes people trust your company that much?
Trust is something you gain from doing what is right to people and in this case, clients. It’s not something you buy or pay a bribe for, no, it automatically comes from people who see you and how you go about different things in life.
And the reason many trust Mpaatanel is simply because we never disappoint. People give us a lot of money to bring them cars, and we deliver.
Most people look at the car business as a lucrative venture, what do you make of it?
Well, for sure, there is no smooth business in this World, more so one that involves clients trusting you with huge sums of money. But like I said before, it all goes back to trust, dedication and consistency.
Mpaatanel, just like any other company out there, faces a number of challenges on a daily basis, but the most difficulty comes with the inconsistent systems at Uganda Revenue Authority.
Many times the system goes off and takes weeks to be restored. This affects the clearance of imports. URA also keeps increasing taxes, and this puts us in a bad situation with clients especially when we have already discussed the price to import the car