Me: When did Nakumatt started its business in Rwanda? And how many employees do you have?
Adan Ramata: Nakumatt had been operating in Rwanda since 23rd August 2008 and has now more than 250 employees.
Me: What do you think about the business environment in Rwanda?
Adan Ramata: It is a little bit unpredictable. Sometimes it goes up and down, actually it is not exactly as we started, things have improved so far. Between now and the time we started, things have changed in a positive way and we are happy about it. If you compare this new branch at Kigali City Tower with the old one at Union Trade Center, the old branch is doing well but it also going up or down. We are trying to do our level best, we had a plan to open a new branch in Remera and it is still there. Our big aim at Nakumatt is to try to improve people`s lifestyle not particularly here in Rwanda but in different countries where we operate.
Me: In how many countries do you operate?
Adan Ramata: We are in Kenya as our central office, we have a branch in Moshi, Tanzania. Arusha and Dar es Salama are underway. We have three branches in Uganda; Bukoto, Bugoloobi and Kololo Hill. Soon if all goes well, we shall be having Mbarara branch in a month. In Rwanda we have two branches one at UTC, another here at KCT and we plan to open a new store in Remera by next year. So far KTC branch is bigger than UTC`s. Kigali City Tower has eighteen to twenty four floors, by the time it will be fully occupied by other tenants such as movie theaters and others, KTC will be a place to be in Kigali and our business will boom. As time goes on with the support the government put in to develop the country, there won`t be any need to go to invest a lot of money in London or elsewhere. London is coming soon here, it is already half-away in Rwanda.
Me: How is this new branch at KCT going on?
Adan Ramata: This new branch is a little bit slow but we hope that by the end of the year business will improve. Things will go well when KCT is fully occupied by other tenants.
Me: Where do you source products you sell?
Adan Ramata: We source them locally and internationally. Our aim is to support the locals.
Me: What kind of relationships do you have with local suppliers?
Adan Ramata: We have a very good relationship with local suppliers. I have visited farmers in Gisenyi and Ruhengeri. They have quality products but poor packaging. I have advised them to come up with good packaging. Most of the expatriates who come to work here in Rwanda from different countries know that local products have good quality. Farmers are getting advises from us and maybe from Rwanda Bureau of Standards on how to improve the packaging and to maintain the quality. Then we don`t need to get all products we buy from outside when our local suppliers do it here.
Me: What about perishables products, where do you get them from?
Adan Ramata: Like for fresh products, we are fine. We encourage farmers to come to us to get better prices because we realize that some people buy products from them at low prices then sell it to us. We want farmers to grow because without farmers it can be tough for the economy. Recently we have seen them coming directly to us as cooperatives or individually and we think that our relationships with them will improve with time. So far our importation is decreasing as the quantity of products we source locally is increasing. This is good for us as well as for our customers because we can be able to sell products at cheap prices.
Me: What do you think about the competition in retail industry in Rwanda?
Adan Ramata: We are ready to compete with other local and international retailers because it push us to improve more. Our customers can also benefit from the competition by getting better terms from competitors. We would like to see them coming and competition is something we are used to in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
Me: So you can say that you don`t have serious competitors in Rwanda so far?
Adan Ramata: I don`t want to say that the competition is not exactly there because we don`t want to underestimate whoever is there is not a competitor. So far whoever is there either a small supermarket, to us it is a competitor and we should not underrate them because soon we will see them growing. We don`t have to ignore them and assume they are not our competitors. We encourage them to come to our level so that our customers can benefit from our competition.
Me: What do you think about the business environment in Rwanda?
Adan Ramata: The business environment and security are perfect in Rwanda. Friendliness, cleanliness I don`t have to tell you it is known. People back home in Kenya tell us about Rwanda, we are surprised the way they know more about Rwanda. People in East Africa have good stories about Rwanda for sure.
Me: What Can you say about the profit from your business so far?
Adan Ramata: We haven`t yet reached a time when we make a profit as a result of investments we have made. Like here at KCT, it is a big supermarket we have invested in again in Rwanda and the profit we make from the UTC is being eaten by KTC branch expenses. KTC is almost one year old and hasn’t made any profit so far but we are optimistic about the future.
Me: When did you open KTC branch?
Adan Ramata: We opened in October the 5th 2011. In fact we are celebrating one year anniversary very soon and you are invited to join us.
Me: What are the challenges you meet so far?
Adan Ramata: Off course there are some challenges especially about staff. You can see some employees resigning for no good reason and without telling us in advance. We train employees and some of them are even taken across borders for more training especially in customer service. They take advantage of that and go elsewhere for greener pastures but to our surprise we see them again coming to us after some time.
Me: I talked to the manager from UTC branch and said that employees have problems with transport in the night when they want to go home as buses in the city stop around 21:30.
Adan Ramata: Yeah it is true transport in the city stop around 22:00. After that there remain motorcycles and they are expensive for them compared to the buses. But very soon things will improve here at KCT when many businesses come in to start their operations, we will also work 24 hours as UTC does.
Me: What are other challenges you have?
Adan Ramata: Sometimes the main gate of KCT may close as early as 20:00 and we see the customer flow reduces without knowing that the main gate has been closed. But all these challenges we will discuss them with the KTC management team.
Me: What is your role to improve the Rwandan society?
Adan Ramata: We do various activities related to corporate social responsibility. We have been visiting orphans and inviting them to come here. Last year around Christmas we invited them to come here and enjoy the shopping experience at Nakumatt. This time we are planning to visit them as we are approaching Christmas. Last year there is a woman called Chantal who gave birth to triplets and I personally went to visit her. Nakumatt decided to hire her husband so that he can be able to provide for the family.
Me: Thank you very much for your time.
Adan Ramata: You are most welcome.