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Aga Sekalala Jr. on Cross-Generational Family Businesses

This episode features Aga Sekalala Jr., a Ugandan entrepreneur, investor, business executive and innovator.  Aga is the founder, former CEO and executive chairman of Radio Simba, one of Uganda’s most popular radio stations.  He is also the Executive Director of Ugachick, a major poultry operation in Uganda, a former Board Chair of KCB Bank and a former Board member of the Uganda Investment Authority and the Uganda Export Promotion Board. Aga is  currently the Vice Chairman of the Uganda Manufacturers Association and Chairman of the Poultry Producers of Uganda.

Aga speaks about his experience in managing one of the most successful cross-generational businesses in Uganda — from the role stewardship, mentorship and family principles have played in the business to the importance of financial readiness.

Aga also speaks about balancing family dynamics in a family business and the advantages of vertical integration to his family’s poultry business. Aga also speaks about why (for now) institutional investors are preferred to venture capital or private equity as a source of funding for his family’s business. 

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**The transcript below has been generated through software, and may contain errors. Viewpoints with Brenda is designed to be heard. We strongly recommend that you listen to the episode for context and speech emphasis before quoting the text below in print.

BN: On the podcast today I speak to Aga Sekalala, Jr, a Ugandan entrepreneur investor, business executive and innovator Aga is the founder, former CEO and Executive Chairman of Radio Simba, one of Uganda’s most popular radio stations. He’s also the executive director of Ugachick, a major poultry operation in Uganda. Aga is a former Board Chair of KCB Bank, former board member of both the Uganda Investment Authority and the Uganda Export Promotion Board and is currently the vice chairman of the Uganda Manufacturers Association and the chairman of the Poultry Producers of Uganda. Aga is also a proud husband, a father of four and a grandfather to one girl. So, Aga, welcome to the podcast, it’s such a privilege to host you.

AS (01:05): Thank you, Brenda, thank you very much for hosting me.

BN: So, for a lot of us, when we hear Sekalala or Ugachick, those names are very synonymous with successful cross-generational business. So was joining a family business, something you had always intended for yourself.

AS (01:25): Thank you. The concept of “will you join” or “will you not join”, I think never was deliberate from the very beginning. I think that the way we always framed the question of who will participate or who will manage or who will be involved in the business, from the founder (who are my parents, my father and my mother) was the person who would be available would be nearby who would be able and the person who would be most willing to take it on. 

When I finished university, I found that there were a lot of opportunities. And I found that coming back to Uganda was opportune at the time. So, I came back. And at that point in time, in addition to the other things that I thought I wanted to do, for instance, the media and the entertainment and all the other things, the communications things, I found that there were also opportunities within the family establishment. And it is against that I interviewed for the job, I took it on, and I started to take on the mantle for different things. And it is where now that you start out doing a few things, you start out on the periphery, because in these businesses, there’s always professional management teams running the show. And you would start out maybe taking on one task, or maybe two tasks or three tasks. And eventually you pick up and as time goes on, you come to the fore. So, it is not written in stone. But it is something that develops. I think it’s something that I would say creeps up on you.

BN: And was there a lot of stewardship from your parents, and how much did mentorship and family principles play into you running your business?

AS (03:10): I think I like that word stewardship, because it is very apt. It is fitting because I think a cornerstone of entrepreneurship, successful entrepreneurship, even founders as they run their businesses, run them with a view that they are there to stay and they are there to outlive them. And in that process, there are certain behaviors and certain ways of working, and certain ways that the business has to be managed and run. So, you’ve got to run the business long term, you can’t run the business on a short cycle one year, or six months or two years, like you sometimes will see some companies might appear to be operated.

And so, in this particular case at least, our parents were very frugal, and they were very disciplined about how they run the businesses. The businesses were separate entities, the way they run and the way they managed was done completely separate. So we were from a very early stage, brought (even as children) to understand that this is an organization. This is on its own, it has to be run in a certain way. There’s a certain discipline around it. And it is those now that all of a sudden that you start to inculcate the values, the values of the family. 

And in our particular case, at the core was we’re Muslims. So, we used a lot of Islamic principles in the things that we do. And those things were taught to us, and we felt them, and we saw them in action. It was not in speak only it was also things that were done on a day to day, how the business treated its customers, how you have to be fair to your customers, how you can’t cheat your customers. And those are the things that you start out with, and they become basics and values. There are things that you have to stand by how you have to sort of keep your word integrity is very important. And you have to be accountable to your own actions. I mean, at the end of the day, you have to be accountable not only to yourself, but also to the family. So, it is this, that is a discipline that you start out with this, you start out seeing, and at the point where you slowly have to take over the mantle of ownership or the mantle of running the business, you realize that you’re just a steward, you’re not really an owner, that it’s for your own benefit that you own and pass on to succeeding generations. And it is against that you start to understand business at its core. And when you also look around you, sometimes you will see where some of these principles are not held up or held up with value, it creates a recipe for disaster.

BN: Yeah, I mean, I’ve heard you speak so many times. But when you spoke about how you grew up, and how you were brought into the business, and how these principles have always played a role in your life, I think for me, personally, that was something I think I took away, especially if I was to start my own, whenever that would be. I think that’s something I would definitely take on. Just still on that issue of stewardship – so for people who are looking to pass on their businesses to the next generation in their families, how much time and effort should be dedicated to developing talent for the next generation, or how much time was taken on you, or how much time are you taking on your own children to do the same?

AS (06:35): It’s a good question. And it points a bit to the way forward. But also, it points to the variations and the differences in context. So maybe I’ll start with investment in myself, maybe an investment in my siblings. I think that would be a realistic starting point. 

I think my father worked extremely hard. And I mean, both my parents. And I know that the effort was, everybody had to have a fair shot at it. Everybody had to get an education which suited them. So, in my particular case, the basics have to be placed, you have to make sure that you go to university. When you go to university, you need to get the degree that you’ve gone there for. There is no playing about around those things. And the same with my siblings – we have quite a variety in our family. And all of them have had attained in some cases, some real interesting, and they’re actually overachievers academically. We’ve got a number of PhDs, at least three or four, if I’m not mistaken. We’ve got CPAs. We’ve got we’ve got all kinds, we’ve got doctors, or medical doctors. So, I think the first basic is, do you have the tools, where you have the knowledge, and you have the ability to learn? So, if you at least have achieved that, then there would normally be nothing that says, “is there any expense spared to make sure that this person or these people in the next generation have been educated”? And I think, you know, my father never held back. If somebody wanted to do a masters, yes, the money would be found, even if it was difficult, even if it was tightening up a belt here and there. Then I think that’s your basic.  

And then after that, the next level is the networks that the people have available to them to learn and to grow and to also learn practical things. Because an education, university education can be quite theoretical, some of it is very good, and some of it you know, gives you the basic. If you took an accounting course, you’d know what accounting basics are, you know what a P&L is. But you might not know how you need to juggle some of the items on that balance sheet – how do you ensure that there is growth of the business while maintaining a certain minimum bottom line? Are you reinvesting? How do you make sure that your debt is okay? So, sometimes those things are practical things, some of those things, you sort of learn a little bit in school, and then you sort of have to apply them later on. So, I think there is an education then there is the introduction to the networks. 

In my particular case, I’ve had an opportunity to work with some of the best to some of the top entrepreneurs. In this country. I have Mr. James Mulwana has been my boss. I worked under him for some time. I have worked as a partner to Mr. Gordon Wavamunno. So, you know, in addition to my father himself, I’ve had some really great mentors and great bosses I would say, who I’ve been had a chance to learn from you learn different styles, you learn what works, you learn what doesn’t work, and these things are enabled by the family. The family has to enable these contacts and these relationships will take place.  

Subsequent to that I will talk a little bit about my own children because they’re young, but they’re now beginning to slowly get to that stage where they are beginning their early training on how to succeed us by starting learning or getting out of university and learning. I’ve got two boys; they’ve finished their university now. And we don’t insist that they will get a degree in one place or the other. But I insist, for instance, that both my sons, if they’re going to get a university education, that they are going to take at least two courses of accounting. So, they have got to know basically, the difference between a P&L and a balance sheet. And so, if I’m going to spend that expensive University money, I say, “Guys, you’re going, but I need you to take these two courses as an elective”. So at least as a basic, even if you decide not to run the business, at least you can be a board member, if you’re a board member, you have to know something a little bit around basic accounting, and finance. And so, I get them curious at that early stage. And while they’re in university, I get them to take some basic courses around this. And that also sometimes gets them to get a little bit curious. My oldest son has taken on a course in management of the arts. So, he’s done quite a bit of management, although it was more on the entertainment side of things. My son after him Imran is doing a course in data science. And he’s also doing some urban planning. So, it’s a little bit different. But we’re hoping that with time, all of these things are things that are additive, they’re things that we can bring to the fore, if they choose to join, they have basic skills, and they know what to do. And they have learned how to do these things very well, they at least, I think all of these have an element of business. And they’re diverse. So, my last one, so far is very interested in business. But he’s still doing his A-Levels. So, I’m not yet ready to comment on, I’m never really sure what he’s going to end up doing.

So, the basics is yes, a good university education, if possible. If somebody’s willing and able to do it, make sure that the ingredients of that university education do consist of material that will be useful and things that you can use in the rest of your life. And then going forward is the next step, which is how do you network? How do you put these young minds to do some work experience and learn from other intrapreneurs get some outer influence and learn as time goes on, so that they bring together both the best of what they’ve learned in school, and the best of what they’ve learned in the field?

BN: You know, it’s funny, you mentioned the profit and loss and balance sheet. Because I can tell you as a lawyer in mergers and acquisitions, I have to look at these things as well. So, you do actually need a basic knowledge because you want to go in there and be able to look at an auditors note and know what that means.

AS (12:49): Yes, you need to know qualified accounts. 

BN: Exactly. I never thought in my life that I need to know these things. I wasn’t the best math student. But I mean, here we are.

AS (13:01): It’s true. In the end, you understand that it is not really about mathematics, per se. Because those columns are just additions. So truly, there is no calculus there.

BN: Yeah, I think that was the biggest demystification of accounts for me. In a family business, the obviously sometimes conflicting interests and conflicts generally competing business interests. How do you suggest people should go about balancing those dynamics, especially in a family business?

AS (13:32): Whenever the word family dynamic is used, I think it is slang for family fights. But actually, nobody wants to really put it out there. 

BN: Nobody wants to say it out loud.

AS (13:40): But the truth of the matter is that the most important thing that we all have to realize, a couple of things have to remain as basics. I think that that’s how we treat this thing. The first one is, every single family member is actually different. And I think that that is fundamental to know that every single family member is different, they’re not the same. They’re not two people who are alike. So, someone might be a bit shy, someone might be a little bit more aggressive than the next guy in that there are differences across, so you have this great cornucopia of the rainbow of different personalities and individuals. 

And I think that the first thing that is most important and I think the one also that is not unpacked properly, especially, I mean, I think in Africa, and sometimes around the world. I’ve found some of these issues also in the US and in Asia – is where you have an aspect of polygamy and you’ve got a stepbrother or stepsister, and you have to deal with those issues. So, in the early stages of the family cycle when very very early on when these families are being set up. The dynamic is very rare that the dynamic is that these are supposed to get along and they’re supposed to be one harmonious family. The way a harmonious family is described typically and, in the movies, and everywhere is same mother, same father, and even that normally doesn’t normally lead to a harmonious group of people. There is conflict even in that. So, you can imagine that there is an aspect where you have cousins, there’s an aspect where you have stepbrothers and stepsisters.  

So that dynamic, as you say, and as you put it – I think the first thing that needs to be is there’s got to be a great appreciation for family, which means that all these people have to be understood as family, and they are related. And they are part of this family business as a family. And then you have to also understand that there is the business. And I think that this is that stewardship issue that has to come up. There is the business, that is the business, although the business of the families still is exists, but there is the business of the business. And all of the family members in this big circle on this one side, have to appreciate that there is this business that’s got a life of its own. It’s got its own customers, it is got its own stakeholders, it is got things that need to happen, it has got taxes to pay, it is got bankers, it is got future income, it is got, you know, accountants, it is got employees, and it has got a life of its own. And this is the one thing where there’s got to be, especially from fairly early on, and understanding that there is a business of the business. And while there is a family and business of the family, this business, in simple words has to be left alone to be able to do its thing. It is the only way things continue harmoniously, also, even on one side. So, there’s quite a bit of learning. 

And there’s quite a bit that the stewards and especially the founders, and their successors have to ingrain fairly early on that there is the business, the business has to be a business in itself, it has to be successful. It has to have its suppliers paid, it has to have the taxes paid, it has to has the workers paid, it has to make the bank loans have to be paid. And there has to be investment for the future. There has to be growth, you have competitors, you have so many things going on. And it is within that difference and separation. And I think, you know, people talk about separation of powers, and they talk about, you know, these arms of government and this sort of thing. 

Within a family business, the stewardship, is one of the main stewards’ jobs is to create the separation of business of the family, family business, and the business of the business. And getting those things separated and then dealing you can deal with ownership as separate; you can deal with employees as separate; you can deal with the family as the family separately. And then with that, sooner or later, very clearly, you understand that owners, maybe their interest might be, for instance, might be dividends and growth, growth of assets. It might be for employees, it might be a combination of both dividends, or it might be in addition, it might also be their salaries and their wellbeing as staff and how the family business treats them. Once those things clearly articulated and understood, and also projected and lived and shown, you find that it is a good step on that journey. It doesn’t solve the problem 100%. But your percent of the way there.

BN: Yeah, because I think honestly, this is one thing a lot of small business, family-owned businesses, struggle with. How you’re going to separate the ownership from the employee from their family and in adjust and fairway so that nobody is feeling slighted. As you know, you’re treating them as an employee in the business. And you know, when you go home, your family sharing a meal. Yeah, it’s is tricky one to balance.

AS (18:57): It is. But that’s one of the key stewards’ roles is to try and articulate best practices from all over, you’ve got to dig in, you’ve got to do the hard work, the hard work that it takes to succeed even in running a business or the business and the business of the family. You’ve got to dig in. Because the truth is that while there’s a lot of cases, and a lot of stories of things go bad, there is a lot of success out there, but it is just very quiet. People are just not on the rooftops, shouting that, “hey, we’re successful!”. They are just doing well. And they just keep on going on with their lives. Maybe that even becomes subconscious. They don’t even realize that they’re doing well. And a lot of it is because of building strong systems within what they’re doing and making sure that they work

BN: Yeah. So, for family businesses that are seeking outside funding. I mean, I know what to do from the lawyer’s perspective, but I want to hear it from you as a businessman. How would you advise these businesses to prepare for outside funding?

AS (20:00): Okay, there are the standard things. And then they are the things that are around mindset. I will start with what I think of as the obvious. And I think everybody who runs a business will relate to that and say that that is okay. Maybe then I’ll tell a little bit of what we’ve done. 

The standard things that you need to make sure that you’ve got complete policy, across the board in terms of human resource, financial policy, your risk management, you just need to have a certain set of basics. And the unfortunate thing about that is, sometimes it’s very expensive, and sometimes it’s laborious. And sometimes it requires bringing in people, you know, consultants, which most people just don’t want to have around or don’t want to pay, because they just seem to be never ending and just seem to be taking a lot of money. But somehow, there needs to be an acceptance that you need to have a business that runs within a certain system and the systems in their business. Systems can be a hindrance on innovation, and dynamism and pivoting, especially in the early stages, especially if a business becomes cashflow positive, or if a business intends to be around. 

For family, the best thing is to start a series of moves towards building systems.  When I say systems, sometimes it can appear complicated, but my view is, are you able, if you have a business that has a shopfront manager, are you able to run it tomorrow, if that shopfront manager didn’t show up? If he didn’t come, he got sick, and he couldn’t come? Will you be able to open the business the next day? And the question would be? Do you have a system in place whereby where the key is kept? Or is there a record of who he needs to deal with? Is there some record that is stored about who the customers are? And this will translate to a factory setting. So, would you be able to do quality control? Would you still have somebody who knows how to switch on the machines if somebody didn’t show up? And you know, so it’s a series of things that need to be able to happen independent of individuals, independent of us the people who are the levers and run. And the question I keep on telling my employees is look, I want to take a week off. If I take a week off? Will the business still be around at the end of the weekend? That’s the kind of thinking that businesses and business owners need to be thinking about. How do you prepare your business in such a way that it doesn’t need you to be there every single day, 365 days of the year.  

Us as a business on the other hand, I think perhaps a little bit because of our history, we have found ourselves in an awkward situation, which tends to be something which is good is — one of our credos is that we should be ready for private equity, venture capital or institutional investor at any given time. Every single day of the year, one of the things that we keep on reminding ourselves, we need to be able to have somebody walk in and if we needed to be able to be funded, we can actually meet 90% of the criteria. Because one you never know when you have an emergency, or something goes completely wrong. Or two, the opportunity could arise where you maybe need to grow rapidly, and maybe something happens. You have something, how do you do it? Because you’re not going to be able to go out there. And sometimes you might not be able to attract a deep pocketed private investor in a very short time. They might not be willing and able, they might be there, but they’re not really interested in your, in our particular business, maybe I should say. So, the credo for us is be ready for an institutional investor, or VC or private equity at every single day. And we call that financial readiness. That’s really how we look at it. Are you ready? And you know, so books of accounts have to be in order. Management accounts have to be in place every single end of month and every end of quarter, end of half year, they have to be reviewed, they have to be noted, the board has to be in place board has to be notified at the minute, you know, are these things all in place.  

And I mentioned at the beginning that a lot of these things have happened to us a bit by circumstance. For instance, our business Ugachick has at the very early stages, we had a debt swap with the Uganda Development Bank, and they became shareholders in the business for a substantial amount of time. We also had East Africa Development Bank, preferential shareholders in our business for a period of maybe five or six years, and with investors of that type, they’re institutional. So, you need to be able to answer certain questions. You need to have a certain amount of reporting. You need to have a certain minimum there’s a certain minimum financial readiness that you have to have, because at any given time, they’re going to raise questions. For one of our other businesses, we started out with DFCU owning 15%, when they were a development bank, they had a 15% equity. And in that business, we have maintained the discipline of all the things we used to do.

Even at a time when we later on, pay back these investors or buy them out and have them leave, we continue to do all the things that we were doing, that we were required to do. We are required to have certain reporting was to have certain minimum number of reports, you need to make sure that as much as you can, your filing of your taxes is done on time, and that you’re not going to be slapped with fines and that kind of thing. Because these investors don’t expect their money to be whittled down in court cases, for instance.  So, these are the sorts of things. 

It’s a behavior that you have to set yourself up for. It’s a mindset. And then once you established and ingrain, these behaviors in your day to day, you start to aim at actually even being better. Even within that you want to say look, I want to improve, I want to be able to report at a higher level, I want to be able to behave even better than a listed company, because you know that it can be done. You want to be able to be right on top of all of these things, you know, what your risk heatmap is at any given time. So, these things become second nature. And it becomes not necessarily a cost in the way you look at it. But you look at it as the cost of doing business, and the cost of staying on costs and being able to stay afloat.

BN: Yeah. And you know, as you were talking, I was vigorously nodding my head. Because when we’re doing this work for companies that are acquiring, or even when you’re acting on the sell side, one of the most important things is records. You just have to have like clear and concise records of everything. It just makes work easier for everybody. And as you said, they’re always going to ask questions. So, when they ask these questions, you should be able to respond about things concerning your business, you know, concisely and precisely.

AS (27:03): It has to be documented, written, signed. It’s got to have an external look at it. There is that minimum set of things that you have, and I have done PE dances, maybe you know, over the years over the last 10 years, I’ve done maybe two or three. I never really got into doing it, I eventually would choose institutional investment, or I will choose something else. But I have the tools available. I’ve got evaluations done; I’ve got this done. Everything is on my fingertips. It is not a mountain. I think maybe that might be the way I look at it. 

BN: Yeah. And I think this is really an important message for any founder. Because you know, the startup space in Uganda and elsewhere on the continent is so active. But getting your business ready for funding is a whole other thing. I’m hoping people will take this and take it to heart. 

AS (27:52): I hope so. I hope so too.

BN: I mean, Aga, you’re here sharing your knowledge, so they better listen! So, I’m going to ask you a question that actually came from my brother, because he’s a big admirer of yours. And his question was on vertical integration. And the fact that you know, you have these businesses that span a variety of sectors. How has vertical integration given you a significant advantage? And what approaches would you advise people to achieve similar results?

AS (28:22): I think that our poultry business is integrated, correct. I think that that’s true. I promise you not Brenda, we are constantly asking ourselves questions about should we be doing all these things within this value chain? We ask ourselves, and we interrogate deeply and do a deep, deep, deep dive as to every different part. Are there parts of it that maybe we could hive off and allow people who have more expertise to do. 

In our poultry business, we breed poultry stock, we make feeds, we hatch to produce the day-old chicks, we also then support commercial growing and then we buy back and actually sell a finished product. So, we are involved in various parts of the chain. For this particular part of the business, it seems to be the way it’s done. When I look at my peers in Zimbabwe, I look at my peers in South Africa. I look at the bigger ones in Egypt, Nigeria. A lot of businesses, a few of them might have a very good JV on one of these aspects, for instance feeds, which is a supply in, they might have a very good joint venture, but they still have a hand in it. I think in Kenya, that’s the case where Kenchick has got a JV they sort of have cross ownership in UNGA. But I think that they are able to know that they will have a consistent supply of feed into the business. 

But to come back to your question, is it a source of advantage? I’ll tell you that my business schoolteacher, he beat me down on this for many semesters to try and understand whether I wasn’t just doing too many things that are just never going to work. But my context and the stage at which we are operating in this market – if you’re unable to find good partnerships that would run the businesses in a win-win, we find ourselves where we find ourselves where we’re integrated. Being integrated is good because you’re able to plan you’re able to see production. 

In our case, one of the interesting aspects of the chain is quite surprising that I tell people that the chicken that you see on your table is we started working on it one year ago. It takes one year from when his parents are purchased, then they are brought into the country that might take another few months. Six months until you’ve raised them grown, then they produce and then there is after they produced a month, get that they will check from there, they will check it will take another 36 days until you have your finished product. And so, adding in all the plannings and all the things in between, it’s a year of time. And one of the challenges is it’s very easy in a lot of spaces, for there to be a breakdown in that period of time, something to happen. In the last two years, we’ve had incidences of avian influenza. In Europe, and currently when there is still one going, where you find that you’re unable to import breeding stock or genetic material from certain countries, certain countries are locked out. You can get genetic material from the Netherlands, because you know, they have active infections of avian influenza. But because you have control from one year ago, you’re able to figure out how to make sure that you have supplies, for the customers who need product tomorrow, you’re able to be able to anticipate and make sure that at least provisions are made. 

And unfortunately, as much as it can be an advantage on a profitability side, it gives you the assurance. But on the other hand, sometimes yes, it can be a disadvantage, because sometimes you have to accept loss to be more reliable. And so, there are advantages. But there are also disadvantages. And also, a lot of businesses are not necessarily suitable for integration, or they might not be best done in that fashion. But in this particular case, it is. And it does reduce the risk on a hit on one part of the business can be sometimes made up in another part of the business with the exception of COVID of course.

BN: Yeah, makes sense. To close – I have a question, although I think I already have my answer, because you said you’ve not done PE rounds yet. Are you planning to list anytime soon?

AS (32:42) Brenda, there’s an interesting story around listing many years ago, we did a study and I think we wanted to be one of the first companies to list on the Uganda Stock Exchange as a private business. And we commissioned a study to try and figure out if it made sense and that sort of thing. A couple of things were evident, or that came out of the study. The first one was at the time; this no longer applies. But I’ll tell you what the study said. And the study says, “Oh, your business is too small”. So, okay. Well, to date, I think that there are a number of listed companies that were bigger than so I think maybe perhaps that might not hold true. 

But one of the issues I think that was raised, and I think one of the issues that probably would still stand today, is that institutional investors have a certain risk appetite. And one of the things that people just don’t have an appetite for, because if you’re going to list you need to have that institutional base, sort of like covering you for the core of your float, what you put out there, because retail investors are few and far in between in this market. And you know, you need to have your NSSF you need to have your Bank of Uganda retirement fund, your Barclays retirement fund, etc., etc. And a lot of these expressed reservations about investing in a business which they foresaw as there is a high possibility of mass deaths, you know, like you have these chickens or dying and something going completely wrong or having some disease that you need to wipe out. The business gets wiped out overnight. And I think we became described as high risk not sufficient return, not commensurate with this amount of risk that we carry with us every single day.  

I think I took the results of the study to heart, and it was a bit disheartening. But I also do realize that for somebody who’s really invested their money for the lifetime, for a fund manager to invest in something that is very high risk, there could be reservations and if there are reservations, then it makes listing either unattractive or there’s a disincentive for us to list.  

The direction we like to take has been one of an institutional investment, we’ve done that before. We’ve got experience with that, we’re comfortable with that. So that would be the line and the thinking that we would like. I think it’s prudent and the fall somewhere in between. It’s not a public listing, but at least you’re out there, and you can get things done right. Private equity has been very difficult for us. We’ve not been able to match expectations, expectations of private equity, especially around exit have just been very difficult for us. And we’ve, while like I said, we’ve done the dance, we just never quite find the right set of circumstances around this issue of exit. So, it becomes something that, as you know, you don’t start if you don’t know how you’re going to get out of it. And so that tends to be one of the issues. And a lot of the private equity have always been of the view that “look, you know, when we’re getting out, you have to get out”, and yet we have slightly different aspirations for our business. And we think that, you know, the family should, if possible, should have some interest in the business going forward in the long term. So that’s been our aspiration at the moment. So, we found ourselves incompatible with private equity, exit terms. And so that’s where we are. 

I think that we maintain a high level of financial readiness, as I’ve said earlier. And to be honest, we’ve not been short of funding options, I’m proud to say that. You know, we’ve had a good foundation, we’ve been lucky. And we’ve been gifted with what we have, and what you need out of going out there and getting listed and would be to be able to fund the business easier. We work very hard to make sure that we’re ready and we can attract funding at any given time.

BN: Wonderful. Oh, Aga, I’ve enjoyed this conversation. I thought it would be 30 minutes long, but here we are. Thank you so much for doing the podcast. Every time I listen to you speak. I learn so much. As someone in a family that also has its own family business, which I think a lot of people can relate to. You’ve mentioned so many things that I’m hoping a lot of us will learn from. So, thank you very, very much.

AS (37:17): Thank you. Thank you for hosting me. I hope that the listeners will pick up one good piece of advice and they will be able to implement it, or they could continue to keep the conversation that we always have from the social media platforms about what works, what doesn’t work, and we take it from there.

BN: Thank you very much Aga.

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