The remarkable success story of Spear Motors Gordon Wavamunno

Gordon Babala Kasibante Wavamunno, but often referred to simply as Gordon Wavamunno (born 16 December 1943), is a Ugandan entrepreneur, businessman, and philanthropist. He is one of the wealthiest people in Uganda.

He was born in Rugaaga, modern-day Isingiro District, Western Region of Uganda. Following early public education in his home area, he moved to Mbarara, the largest town in the sub-region, when he was a teenager. He later relocated to Kampala, Uganda’s capital and largest city.

His parents owned a retail shop and he helped in running it as a young boy. When he moved to Mbarara as a teenager, he worked as a shop assistant in a produce store owned by an Asian family.

Later, he began to purchase farm produce from the nearby villages. He would then sell the produce to the Asian shops and families in Mbarara.

When he acquired his first automobile, he began a special hire taxi service in the town.

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He expanded this business to include a driving school. In his mid 20s, he relocated to Kampala and pooled all his resources to start Spear Touring Company. This served as the beginning of his corporate enterprise.

In 1973, one year after the expulsion of Ugandan Asians by dictator Idi Amin, Wavamunno leveraged his assets and started Spear Motors Limited, the sole Mercedes Benz dealership in Uganda.

The dealership is also the sole authorised dealer in Jeep, Dodge, and Chrysler automobiles and parts. In addition, Spear Motors is the sole distributor of Deutz Fahr tractors and farm machinery in Uganda. Deutz Fahr is a farm equipment manufacturer based in Treviglio, northern Italy.

His story closely mirrors the fortunes of post-independence Uganda – During the turbulent years of Amin’s regime, and the early 1980s under President Milton Obote, his efforts were almost completely destroyed. He was thrown in jail twice; his business was vandalized and looted beyond repair.  He survived, started over and reclaimed his fortunes.

He persuaded Daimler Mercedes to retain him as Uganda’s sole dealer. And founded and built the now multi-million dollar, Spear Group of enterprises; consisting of Spear Motors Limited, which sells Mercedes Benz, and other brands.

Over the years, he has moved into other businesses including, WAVA textiles and clothing, state of the art WAVA Fancy furniture, WAVA Ostrich and Horse farming, WAVA bottled water, and more.

The self-made businessman has won the Ugandan Businessman of the Year award morethan 10 times. And despite leaving school at a young age, he has honorary degrees from Makerere University and Nkumba University

Beside his business skills, Wavamunno has never turned his back on the less fortunate. His company Spear Motors Limited has donated beds to Katalemwa, a home for the disabled children. He has also donated other materials to schools.

As the saying goes, behind every great man is an even greater woman. Wavamunno married Morine in 1974.  The Wavamunno’ s live comfortably in the Munyooyo suburbs of Kampala; in the multi-million dollar home they call Cape Villa, on the shores of Lake Victoria.

They are often photographed attending public outings. Wavamunno attributes his business success largely to his wife.

He says, “Morine is not just my wife, the mother of my children but someone who has become my chief business advisor and confidante. He credits her with challenging him to venture into many now successful businesses including textiles.

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Mr.  Wavamunno does have his critics in Uganda; some say that he has attained his success at the expenses of the smaller businesses that have no access to his kind of capital or political connections.

As of September 2021, the following were some of the enterprises owned wholly or in part by Wavamunno. The businesses listed here are sometimes referred to as the Spear Group of Companies or simply the Spear Group.

  1. Spear Motors Limited – Franchise distributor and dealer in Mercedes Benz, Jeep, Dodge, Chrysler, and Deutz Fahr brands in Uganda.
  2. Wavah FM – A private radio station.
  3. Star Times Digital Satellite Television Service – A digital satellite distributor of television signals in Uganda.
  4. Spear House – An office building on Jinja Road in Kampala’s central business district.
  5. Wavah Water Limited – A manufacturer and distributor of drinking mineral water in Uganda.
  6. GM Tumpeco Limited – A manufacturer and fabricator of steel products, including number plates, traffic road signs, and billboards. Also, furniture, spring mattresses, uniports, wheelbarrows, and truck and bus bodies.
  7. Fancy Furniture Limited – Importer and distributor of high-end office and household furniture.
  8. Wavah Books Limited – A publisher of school text books and other writings.
  9. Nakweero Mixed Farm – A diary, beef, and crop farm in Nakweero, Kira Municipality, Wakiso District.

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