Who is Bulaimu Muwanga Kibirige?: Flash Uganda Media looks at his biography, age, family, wife, tribe, net worth, Hotel Africana, work and experience, early life and education of the former Chairman of the BMK Group of Companies.
Bulaimu Muwanga Kibirige best known as BMK was a Ugandan businessman, entrepreneur, and hotel owner. BMK was one of the wealthiest people in Uganda as per the 2021 published report.
BMK says luck and hard work opened doors that led to a successful life. He’s a very humble man, jovial, generous, religious, understanding, nationalist, patriot and loving. BMK was a man who never liked featuring in the media talking about himself but rather a down to earth man, he loved a silent lifestyle.
The fallen tycoon says honesty and treating the money of the business as if it’s not yours is a principal thing in business, and the only thing to a successful life is discipline and respect.
BMK in all his business ventures has worked closely with his family members including his two wives Sophie and Hawa, his children and a number of his brothers and sisters.
He left business empires in Uganda, DR Congo, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Zambia and South Sudan.
Early Life and Education
Bulaimu Muwanga Kibirige or BMK was born on 2 October 1953 in Kalungu District before it was curbed out of Masaka District to the late Hajji Ali Kibirige, who was a successful businessman and the late Mariam Kibirige.
BMK was born to a family of 36 children from different mothers, their father being a Muslim.
BMK did not go far with school; he stopped in primary seven and joined his father’s business. The first principle he learnt from his father is that business might be yours, but the capital belongs to the business.
Although BMK did not attain enough education, he managed to educate all his children in one of the best schools and universities around the world. Perhaps his children are all successful with the help of their father.
Nevertheless, BMK has no regret for not attending school to its fullness because he attained everything school could offer. He also managed to attend private classes to improve his English and accounting skills, because he believed education was fundamental in business management.
Work and Experience
BMK in 1986, began a general trade and manufacturing company then 10 years later he ventured into the hotel business in 1997, starting with 40-room.
But as of today, Hotel Africana has expanded to 233 rooms and 30 serviced apartments situated on Kololo Hill a prestigious location within Kampala’s central business district.
The hotel progressed into a four-star establishment within 10 years with several amenities like a swimming pool, manicured gardens and a conference centre; the Africana Conference Centre with a seating capacity of 3,000 delegates.
Bulaimu Muwanga Kibirige made investments in real estate, construction equipment, motorcycle distributorships and forex bureaus across East and Central Africa.
BMK was the founder of the Boda Boda riders in Uganda, a term that was first used at Uganda’s border with Kenya. Before travellers used to cross from one country to the other using bicycles and he thought of introducing Motorcycles imported from Japan and that’s where the name Boda Boda originated from.
He was the first businessman to import motorcycles used as boda boda and spare parts into the country. BMK began by importing used tires then later he ventured into new tires and new motorcycles.
Bulaimu Muwanga Kibirige served as the chairman and managing director of the BMK Group of companies, which includes; Hotel African Kampala, 2-4 Wampewo Avenue, Kololo Hill, Kampala, Uganda, Hotel African Moroto City, Moroto District, Uganda, Hotel Africana Lusaka, Zambia, BMK Motorcycle (U) Limited, Nateete, Kampala, Uganda, BMK Motorcycles (K) Limited, Nairobi, Kenya, BMK Motorcycle (T) Limited, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, BMK Motorcycle (R) Limited, Kigali, Rwanda, BMK Motorcycle (Z) Limited, Lusaka, Zambia, Hotel Africana Forex Bureau 1,2-4 Wampewo Avenue, Kampala Uganda, Hotel Africana Forex Bureau 2, 16-18 William Street, Kampala, Uganda, BMK Construction Leasing Company, Kigali, Rwanda, BMK Oil Equipment Company, Kampala, Uganda, among others.
In the other set of responsibilities, Bulaimu Muwanga Kibirige served as the Chairman of the Uganda Hotel Owners Association (UHOA), Board member of the Ugandan North American Association (UNAA), Chairman and Managing Director of the BMK Group of Companies.
By the time of his death, he has been the Chairman Executive Board of Uganda Sickle Cell Rescue Foundation and a lecturer at Makerere University, lecturing Masters of Business Administration students.
BMK began business by helping his father on the coffee farm, later he joined the general merchandise trade including trips to DR Congo trading in clothes.
His father introduced him to the world of business in 1966 at only 15 years; he thereafter discontinued himself from school because he saw himself earning a lot of money than academic qualifications can offer.
BMK narrates that when he saw his school teachers suffer, he hated school even more. In 1971, he relocated to Kampala on the advice of his mother for a better business perspective.
While in Kampala, he ventured into buying handcarts for hire and later ventured into the meat and fish business. He managed to succeed in business within the shortest period because of his ability to spot business opportunities, enthusiasm to take on such ventures, a good listener and a man who listened to advice from fellow businessmen.
BMK narrates that in 1972 during the economic crisis that befell Uganda after the expulsion of Asians, it was a business opportunity for BMK, and he started trading in goods that were in shortage in Kampala city from areas of abundance like Mbale City.
And when the country was engulfed in shortages he opted for international trade and ended up going to Kenya importing essential commodities to feed Ugandans.
Then in the 1980s, East Africa turned into a small business area. He tells there was limited information and his friends were unwilling to share information.
As a result, BMK ventured into places like London, Hongkong, Bangkok, Japan, China, UAE among others importing various commodities including used car spare parts, heavy machinery, and motorcycles among others.
Awards and Recognition
BMK in 2014 was awarded a Doctorate of Philosophy in Humanities at the United Graduate College and Seminary.
In 2014 still, BMK received a Diaspora Lifetime Award for Entrepreneurship in the East and Central African region.
Books: My Story of Building A Fortune In Africa
“My Story of Building A Fortune In Africa”. BMK launched the book on the 18th March 2021.
In this book, he describes his childhood in his homeland Masaka, doing business during President Idi Amin’s regime, how to grow your business and working with relatives.
Another book BMK was working on is “Fighting Aggressive Cancer”
Kampala City businessman BMK died on 10 September 2021 in Nairobi, Kenya after days of battling cancer in a Nairobi hospital.
BMK was diagnosed with cancer almost seven years ago in Bangkok Thailand while on a business trip to Japan.
He had a terrible backache and was diagnosed with prostate cancer, he was given one year to live but by God’s Grace he lived for almost seven years.
Bulaimu Muwanga Kibirige alias BMK was married to Sophie Kibirige and Hawa Kibirige and altogether he survives with 18 children but two of his children are deceased.
He was a Moslem.