Biraj’s director not afraid to get her hands dirty

Love shows up in the most unexpected places. For Pervia Kutumya, it was through work, in the busy New Taxi Park where she was helping an aunt who owned a retail textile fabric shop. Deo Kiweewa, her future husband and business partner came in to buy material but left with a wife.

“Being in the textile business I had heard of a company called Kirowooza Enterprises which was one of the leading textiles dealing franchise. This information, Kiweewa kept secret from me and when I found out later, it was humbling,” Kutumya recounts.

When she asked him why he had chosen to keep who he really was secret, he said he wanted her to appreciate his other attributes.

The mogul then interested her in being part of his textile business; a proposal she readily accepted. His plan was to slowly get her into the management of his textile business.

He had bigger dreams and as he later on opened up to her, he wanted to set up a shopping mall on his land near Nakasero Market, on Dastur Street.

The couple discussed many business ideas, including putting up a five-floor structure where city dwellers would park cars and pay. They finally settled on the idea of building a hotel.

They broke ground in 2013. But as they discussed the business project, Kiweewa was concerned by the existence of other hotels in the area. “Wouldn’t competition fizzle them out of business?” he wondered. Kutumya told him that no matter how many hotels were in a place, what mattered was the way they treated their clientele in terms of customer care.

This would guarantee them return clients who would in turn also recommend them to other possible customers. As construction went on, the debate on the name started.

Kiweewa decided to name it in memory of his mother, Pirajia Namutebi. The couple settled on Biraj International Hotel. The hotel has 92 rooms, which includes five serviced apartments. It employs 52 staff.

“Our unique selling point is friendly staff and a clean and quiet environment,” Kutumya, director of the hotel, explains. But unlike the average administration in an establishment who sit around and let the manager report to them, Kutumya is all-round.
One day she is in the kitchen preparing a meal for clients, on another day she will go in to receive guests at the reception area. If one of her staff members is off for one reason or another, she sits on for them.

Like that, job seekers have found themselves comfortable to tell tales around her before word gets to them that she is actually the director. To her, being flexible is necessary for a director to get first hand experiences on the job and to also show employees how things are or can be done.

Her academic qualification is not the hospitality area but she is keen to see her business blossom and succeed. She holds a degree in library and information science from Makerere University.

Like many graduate job seekers, she walked the streets of Kampala and Jinja, burning shoe rubber in an effort to find employment.

It was all in vain, for a long time so she asked her aunt for a mentoring stint downtown Kampala.

In employing people, she receives people who promise to work their backs off but with time, recline when they find their way around the hotel.

She is quick to remind them that when they treat a client well, it brings in money that keeps the hotel running and ultimately keeps them in a job.
Kutumya is keen on the hotel’s image and brand. She makes takes extra effort to ensure that her staff is smart and professional.

To remain relevant in business, she says that accepting competition has been key so she capitalises on marketing the hotel’s facilities through marketing staff as well as social media engagements where their services and products are advertised.

“We also call up potential clients to tell them about what we have to offer and also engage media platforms to advertise so that people get to know about us,” she adds.

Dfcu has directly and indirectly supported her business. An Old Girl (OG), Victoria Byenkya, takes meetings of Women in Business (WIB), under Dfcu, to her Biraj Hotel.

“She also keeps encouraging me when business is down and advises me on pushing the marketing team,” the hotel’s director adds. Dfcu is also the Kiweewa’s official bank, and thus for the hotel.

Kutumya has succeeded in making the hotel work but has not let her family suffer. She spends time with family too. She is a mother of four daughters and although confesses to be an introvert, she manages to take her children on outings, for at least two hours every weekend.

USE YOUR CONNECTIONS
Kutumya uses her connections to get business. Dfcu has directly and indirectly supported her business. Dfcu is also the Kiweewa’s official bank, and thus for the hotel. Kutumya’s former schoo mate (OG), Victoria Byenkya, takes meetings of Women in Business (WIB), under Dfcu, to her Biraj Hotel.
“We also call up potential clients to tell them about what we have to offer and also engage media platforms to advertise so that people get to know about us,” she adds.

This article originally appeared in the Daily Monitor.

Written by Edgar R. Batte.

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