FEB 2018 ISSUE 117 KSH 250
AVOID BEING CONNED WHILE INVESTING IN PROPERTY INSIDE
MKU LAUDED FOR ITS QUALITY EDUCATION
SKILLS DEVELOPMENT AIR TRAVEL AND RELATED STUDIES CENTRE: SETTING STANDARDS IN TRAINING
In this issue
Contents Welcome 3 More than a thousand words 4 Articulate 6 CORPORATE BRIEFS 8 • M-Tiba rolled out as a backend platform • Kenya Women Holding changes to ECHO Network Africa (ENA) • The Coca-cola company announces new global plan to create a world without waste
MONTHLY CORPORATE EVENT • Total Motor Show
STANDING OUT 12 • The 2018 insurance market outlook • Airbus Foundation launches Youth Development Programme in Kenya TECHIE 16 • Sony unveils new full-frame alpha 7r iii interchangeable lens YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR • Ants of Africa: dynamic trio with the knacks for business
FEATURE 38 • The joy of well brewed tea • Which model of entrepreneurship teaching should East Africa adopt? • MKU lauded for its quality education SKILLS DEVELOPMENT 44 • Air travel and Related Studies Centre: setting standards in training
Main Story Avoid being conned while investing in property
BUSINESS KIT 22 •Marketing, H.R, Leadership, IT
New rice growing technique picks pace inKenya
Biashara Leo Magazine
MAKING HARD BUSINESS CHOICES
ntrepreneurship has often been touted as a viable solution to the grave challenge of unemployment facing our youth. Even after graduating from universities and tertiary colleges, few are able to secure formal jobs in either the private or public sectors. As a matter of routine, they send their resumes to countless organizations hoping to be considered for interviews and jobs, which is a very agonizing ritual. Unfortunately, they hardly get any positive feedback. To say the least, these young and highly educated young men and women, while performing this ritual (hilariously referred to as ‘tarmacking’) get very frustrated. Bearing that in mind, entrepreneurship has been introduced as a course in various universities and tertiary colleges, as a way of preparing students to embark on the same, once they graduate. Regrettably, that is where the dilemma lies. Can entrepreneurship really be taught in a classroom set up? Of what benefit is such a course to the students eager to find ways and means of generating some income after graduating? Entrepreneurs are classified into two groups. To start with, we have opportunity entrepreneurs who venture into business after spotting a viable opportunity in the market. Such entrepreneurs do not fear taking risks as they pursue their dreams, and they have been known to establish businesses which grow into empires with time. Some of them are not necessarily highly educated. In contrast, necessity entrepreneurs venture into business after failing to get other means of earning their livelihoods. Their first love is in formal employment where a regular income at the end of every month is guaranteed and once such an opportunity arises, they abandon their businesses without necessarily taking a second thought about the time and resources they have invested in them. Sadly, most of our young graduates currently engaged in entrepreneurship fall in this category. As a matter of fact, they neither have the resilience nor the patience to grow their budding enterprises since they view them as a stop gap measure, as they wait to get ‘big jobs’ in the corporate world or the public sector. Against this background, the model of teaching entrepreneurship in our universities and tertiary colleges with the hope that it shall address the unemployment headache that our country is grappling with needs to be critically examined if it is to bear the desired fruits. While all is said and done, such a model can only benefit those who want to embrace entrepreneurship as a matter of choice as opposed to necessity.
email@example.com MANAGING EDITOR: George Gichuki EDITORIAL ASSISTANT: Catherine Kuria MARKETING MANAGER: Emma Nuthu BUSINESS EXECUTIVE: George Marenya SUBSCRIPTION & CIRCULATION: Joe Mwangi, Patrick Maina DISTRIBUTION: NATION MARKETING AND PUBLISHING EDITORIAL CONTRIBUTORS: Dr. Kellen Kiambati, John Kageche, Carolyne Gathuru, Peter Muya, Caroline Karanja DESIGN AND LAYOUT: Mark Gikonyo ILLUSTRATIONS: Stanislaus Olonde
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More Than A Thousand Words Atanas Maina, MD, Kenya Railways: “We are set to increase the inter-county train charges on the standard gauge rail train come first of April by thirty percent.”
Kellen Kariuki, CEO, Unclaimed Financial Assets Authority: “We have publicised the safe box owners’ information on our website ( ufaa.go.ke) without giving details of the nature of the assets as such information is only accessible to genuine claimants, either in person or via relatives. No one has ever lodged a claim for any of the safe boxes in our custody.”
Prof. Paul Zeleza, VC, USIU: “Information and technology companies are finding it difficult to recruit graduates who are ready to contribute as software developers without first taking them through extensive on-the-job training.”
Dr. Amina Mohamed, Education Cabinet Secretary: “Universities should equip students with knowledge and skills to be innovative.”
Come to Geminia Insurance and have all your Insurance needs under one umbrella PRODUCTS The company has a wide range of products with some tailor made to meet unique client’s needs. General Insurance
• Motor Insurance • Fire & Perils • Industrial All Risks • Machinery Breakdown • Erection All Risks • Contractors All Risks • Marine Insurance • Domestic Package • Electronic Equipment/Computer • Political Violence, Terrorism & Sabotage • Burglary • Money • Fidelity Guarantee
• All Risks • Personal Accident/Group Personal Accident • Goods in Transit • Plate Glass • Public Liability • Professional Indemnity • Work Injury Beneﬁt Act (WIBA) • Employers Liability • Directors& Ofﬁcers Liability(D&O) • Trustee Liability
• Education Policies • Protection Policies • Investment Policies • Protection & Savings Policies • Group Life Policy • Group Credit Policy • Mortgage Protection Policies • Retirement Policies • Wealth Transfer Policies • Funeral Cover
NB: Our Motor, Domestic package and Personal Accident each have life rider embedded on them to cover death from whatever cause including illness up to the sum insured subject to a limit of 2 Million shillings per person. The policy can be extended to include dependants or employees of the insured who are 18 years and above.
CONTACTS Head Office, 6th Floor, Geminia Plaza Upper Hill P.O Box 61316 City Square, 00200 Nairobi Tel: +254 20 2782000/2782500
Cell: +254 734 230860, +254 23 057249 Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.geminia.co.ke
BRANCH NETWORK • NAIROBI CBD: Agip house 1st Floor • MOMBASA: Diamond Trust Arcade ,Moi Avenue • ELDORET: Geminia Block, Iten Road • KISUMU: Oginga Odinga Road, Minoki Building 1st ﬂoor • KISII: Umoja Complex,1st Floor, Kisumu Road • NYERI: Konahauthi Building, 1st ﬂoor Next to Post ofﬁce • MERU: Twin Plaza, 2nd ﬂoor, Ghana Street
THINK INSURANCE THINK GEMINIA
Articulate Prize Letter
BORN WITH BUSINESS GENES?
Your Young Entrepreneur segment in the August 2017 issue really got me thinking; is someone born with business genes? Gibson’s story did really move me and made me realize that I can also make it if I am focused. Keep writing because your stories are really inspiring to many young people (like me) who might want to venture in the world of business. Abdul Yehul, Eastleigh
IN BUSINESS, DARING TO DREAM IS ALL IT TAKES While growing up, my parents always told me that to be successful; I had to be a doctor, lawyer or those “respectable” careers. I loved everything to do with beauty, but I was afraid to fail because many people told me that it was not a career worth pursuing. Reading from your July 2018 issue (how Sally Kamenge travelled from Burundi to Kenya and has found success as a make-up artist) gave me the strength to pursue that career. Faridah Anyango, Laikipia
WHAT ROADSIDE SELLERS AND DAILY EXPERIENCES CAN TEACH US ABOUT SELLING- AMAZING STORY I’m a popcorn seller at Githurai 44 near the bus stop. I’m not the only trader selling popcorns but my business is doing great. Why? Because I’m creative in how I talk to my customers. I totally relate to this story on the September 2017 issue. Mwihaki Njoroge, Githurai 44 Via Email
SURVIVING A FINANCIAL DOWNTURN I’m a new reader of your publication. Recently, I encountered a story from your February 2016 issue. It came just at the perfect time since my poultry farming business is going through rough times. I’m now able do deal with financial crisis and I’m working on re-boosting my business. Rachael Mundia, Poultry farmer, Njoro Via email
Via email Editor’s note : All the articles by our contributors in the ‘business kit’ segment are available in our online edition – www.biasharaleo.co.ke
Biashara Leo will award a one year free subscription to the reader whose letter is chosen as the prize letter for a particular edition.(Existing subscribers will recieve a free annual renewal). Your view on entrepreneurship and management are of importance to this magazine. We encourage you to share them with thousands of our readers in Kenya and the entire East Africa. Please send your views and opinions to: The Editor, Biashara Leo, P.O Box 25239-00100 Nairobi, Kenya E-mail: infoasantemedia.co.ke All letters must bear the writer’s name and address, although you may request your name to be withheld. Letter’s can be edited for clarity.
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M-TIBA ROLLED OUT AS A BACKEND PLATFORM
inet Kenya Insurance Brokers has partnered with CarePay to implement M-TIBA as an IT solution for future insurance and fund management products. This makes Minet one of the first large insurance brokers in Kenya to adopt a backend platform, specifically designed for mobile technology , in managing a medical scheme. The M-TIBA platform has been developed by CarePay, in partnership with Safaricom and PharmAccess Foundation. It provides a secure and transparent interface between patients, providers and funders. Mr. Sammy Muthui, Minet’s managing director says : “We are developing a range
of new solutions for our existing and new clients. We need a backend solution that utilizes smart tech. In Kenya the smartest tech, with the highest penetration, is mobile technology. We’re pleased to be leading the way on mobile health innovation and we see M-TIBA as the future for the management of medical schemes for our corporate clients.” M-TIBA was launched two years ago in Kenya. It has already contracted over 530 healthcare facilities across Kenya and nearly 1 million users. With this platform in place, insurance brokers and insurers are going to identify considerable reductions in resources spent on administering their medical schemes and a significant decrease in the turn-around time for claims settlement.
Kees van Lede, CEO at CarePay comments, “The M-TIBA platform offers a scalable solution for healthcare stakeholders to innovate around services and payments. Through this digital infrastructure, Minet will collect accurate real time data, enabling them to improve underwriting, premium pricing and payouts.” Mr. Muthui, concludes, “Minet is gearing up towards holistic insurance coverage for its clients and we see M-TIBA contributing towards that objective, by helping in the drive towards health inclusion. Medical claims administrators will be able to access accurate data that will inform better decision making on MINET’s product offering moving forward.”
KENYA WOMEN HOLDING CHANGES TO ECHO NETWORK AFRICA (ENA)
enya Women Holding (KWH) was registered in March 1982 as Kenya Women Finance Trust (KWFT) Ltd. The aim of the institution was to lobby and advocate for womenâ€™s financial inclusion as well as to facilitate women entrepreneurs to access financial and nonfinancial services to enable them improve their economic status and livelihoods. The organization continued to discharge this until 2009 when the Central Bank of Kenya issued new guidelines for governing financial institutions in the country. This resulted in the evolvement of two institutions: KWH and Kenya Women Finance Trust - Deposit Taking Microfinance (KWFT-DTM) which has since become a fully fledged microfinance bank. In July 2009, KWFT applied for a change of name to Kenya Women Holding KWH and was issued with a certificate of registration dated 8Th July 2009. In April 2010, KWH successfully registered a wholly owned subsidiary deposit taking micro finance company (KWFT-DTM) to continue with the mandate of providing financial services in compliance with CBK regulations. By December 2014, KWH had reduced its shareholding g of the microfinance bank from 100% to 25% in compliance with CBK regulations hence making the latter an associate company and not a wholly owned subsidiary as was the case in 2010. On its part, KWH continued to provide development services for empowering, positioning and advocating for a peaceful and inclusive society while the KWFT-DTM remained an independent financial institution regulated by CBK. The decision by the board to recommend the change of name of the institution from Kenya Women Holding to Echo Network Africa has been primarily necessitated by the need to address the confusion that existed between the two institutions -
KWFT microfinance bank and KWH. Before this development, very few stakeholders were able to distinguish between the two institutions and what their respective mandates were. Going forward, as each institution continues to grow, it is important that it gains its own identity and branding in order to deliver on its mandate more effectively. On its part, Echo Network Africa will continue working with women, youth and persons with disabilities to spur development, while the microfinance bank will continue to offer financial services. In addition to change of name, KWH will free its resources to drive
its mandate of empowering women, youth and persons with disabilities to take greater responsibilities for their own destinies. KWH will also be in a better position to catalyze development across the region in a more sustainable way, while maintaining the vision, mission and principles that have made the organization what it is today: a major player in the provision of financial and development services as well as an advocate for a peaceful and inclusive society in which women, youth and persons with disabilities have equal opportunities to pursue and realize their dreams.
STRONG LEADERSHIP: Dr.Jennifer Riria.
THE COCA-COLA COMPANY ANNOUNCES NEW GLOBAL PLAN TO CREATE A WORLD WITHOUT WASTE Company sets goal to help collect and recycle a bottle or can for every one it sells by 2030
he Coca-Cola Company recently announced that it is fundamentally reshaping its approach to packaging, with a global goal to help collect and recycle the equivalent of 100% of its packaging by 2030. This goal is the centrepiece of the company’s new packaging vision for a world without waste. The company intends to back with a multiyear investment that includes ongoing work to make packaging 100%recyclable. This begins with the understanding that food and beverages containers are an important part of people’s modern lives but that there is much more to be done to reduce packaging waste globally. “The world has a packaging problem and like other companies, we have a responsibility to help solve it,” says James Quincey, President and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company. “Through our World Without Waste vision, we are investing in our planet and our packaging to help make this problem a thing of the past,” adds Quincey. The new global plan comes at a time when Kenya through the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, the National Environment Management Authority and the Kenya Association of Manufacturers PET Sub-Sector group, announced that they will be working together to develop and implement a Polythene Terephthalate (PET) take back scheme to enhance environmental awareness on management of plastic packaging from this year. The proposed take back scheme seeks to involve all actors in the PET/Plastic value chain. In addition, this model structure will play an active role in growing the economy by creating new employment opportunities in recycling, as well as new businesses especially micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) that will become a central part of the recycling model. Globally, the company and its bottling partners are
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pursuing several key goals. Investing in the Planet and Packaging By the year 2030, for every bottle or can the company system sells globally, it aims to take one back so it has more than one life. The company is investing its marketing dollars and skills behind this 100% collection goal to help people understand what, how and where to recycle. The Coca-Cola systems will work with local communities, industry partners, their customers and
consumers to help address issues like packaging litter and marine debris. To achieve its packaging goal, the company is continuing to work towards making all its packaging recyclable globally. In that breath, it is building better bottles, whether through more recycled content, by developing plant-based resins or by reducing the amount of plastic in each container. By 2030, the company’s system aims to make bottles with an average of 50% recycled content. The goal is to set a new global standard for beverage packaging. Currently, majority of the company’s packaging is recyclable. The Coca-Cola company will work to achieve these goals with the help of several global partners; the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastic Economy initiative, the Ocean Conservancy/Trash Free Seas Alliance and World Wildlife Fund. In the country, the company is part of very productive discussions with the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, under the Kenya Association of Manufacturers PET sub-sector group who bring extensive experiences across the value chain. As part of the PET sub-sector group, the company is working in collaboration with all stakeholders to develop a sustainable, holistic approach for the whole PET value chain to ensure efficient and effective waste management of Polythene Terephalate (PET) packaging material. This is in line with the National Solid Waste Management Strategy, the Kenya Vision 20130 (waste reduction target) and Sustainable Development Goal 121. To this effect, it is exploring an extended producer responsibility model that is industry-driven and industry financed. Based on proven best practice, the model must encompass both collection and recycling of PET waste as well as consumer education. Speaking about the announcement locally, Kelvin Balogun, President of Coca-Cola Southern and East Africa said: “The Company has already taken great strides in reducing, reusing and recycling our packaging. We worked closely with our bottling partners, local and national authorities and recycling partners to improve the collection and local recycling rate of our cans, plastics and glass bottles.” Wrapping up the announcement, Quincey emphasized : “Bottles and cans shouldn’t harm our planet, and a litter-free world is possible. Companies like ours must be leaders. Consumers around the world care about our planet; they want and expect companies to take action. That’s exactly what we are going to do, and we invite others to join us on this critical journey.”
MONTHLY CORPORATE EVENT
TOTAL MOTOR SHOW CHEQUE HANDOVER AT BOMA INN
KMI-Total MotorShow, working group Chairperson, Samantha Wright (left) receives a dummy cheque of Ksh. 4,800,000 from Total Kenya Plc Managing Director, Anne-Solange Renouard for the 2018 Total Motorshow title sponsorship at Boma Inn Hotel. This is the 15th edition as they celebrate 25 years of existence since 1992. The event will take place in June 2018.
KMI Total MotorShow working group Chairperson, Samantha Wright (left) receives a dummy cheque of Ksh. 4,800,000 from Total Kenya Plc Managing Director, Anne-Solange Renouard for the 15th edition of the Total Motorshow title sponsorship. Looking on from center is Mr Dinesh Patel a representative from one of the Exhibitors Amity Equipment Ltd.
Exhibitors during the briefing, about the organization of the 2018 Total Motorshow at Boma Inn.
THE 2018 INSURANCE MARKET OUTLOOK: WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT? What were the main trends in the Kenyan insurance market over the last twelve months?
here has been a growing awareness that insurance cannot maintain the status quo with the rapid change of technology. More and more underwriters have recently embraced digital marketing after taking cognizance of the fact that it is the most effective way of serving millennials. A number of insurance companies have therefore developed innovative products to meet the demanding technological shift for the customers. Consequently, digital innovation has taken centre stage and a number of products are now being distributed through mobile apps or on online portals as is the case with the marine insurance cover. We expect this trend to continue shaping the insurance business into the future, and hopefully this will help shade off its predominantly conservative image as it embraces change. Were there any regulatory frameworks that were introduced that will affect the industry in 2018? The introduction of the risk based capital adequacy supervision by the insurance regulator, as opposed to the traditional margin of solvency will continue to have an impact on the insurance landscape. Different insurers can now hold different levels of capital depending on their profiles. There have been shifts in the market with mergers and realignments as this comes on the backdrop of the requirement to clearly separate long term business and general business. The implementation of IFRS9 requires insurance companies to make full provisions of receivables therefore affecting the bottom line (profitability) of the companies. This calls for insurance companies to review their credit policy in order to comply with this regulation. The development will directly affect business partnership with insurance brokers and agents. Over the years, insurance has been on a â€œcash and carryâ€? basis, but this will dissolve the little
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Jane Surungai, Principal Officer, HF Insurance Agency (HFIA).
credit windows that were still available to brokers and agents. When you weigh this against the fact that premiums are generally high and most customers want to pay in instalments, it calls for tough decisions and a delicate balancing act for brokers and agents. The Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act 2017 empowered the industryâ€™s regulator (Insurance Regulatory Authority) to regulate bancassurance business done by banks in the same manner as the ordinary insurance business. Of great significance is the requirement by the regulator (as part of its mandate to educate the general public) that bancassurance agents must demonstrate
they have given customers the right to independently choose an underwriter from a list that is licensed by the authority. Failure to demonstrate this could result in the bank having to pay a fine of Kshs.5million. All publicity materials therefore (whether online or not) must then comply with this requirement which is an additional check for the bancassurance agents going forward. The capping of Interest rates introduced in the banking sector in 2016 has and will continue to have a spiral effect on the insurance industry beyond 2018. The consequent slow down in lending by banks has affected investment in projects and assets that are insurable. Insurance
STANDING OUT: INSURANCE companies benefit from the lending activities of the banks and a key area that has been affected is asset financing which has experienced a slow down. What is your take on the insurance industry performance in 2017 and what do you project in 2018? In 2016, Kenya was ranked as one of Africa’s most mature insurance markets, with growth forecast at 6% a year, according to EY. While this is slower than some other large African markets, annual premium income was still expected to increase significantly, from $1.8bn in 2014 to $2.2bn by 2018, driven by urbanization and a strong economy. Though the potential for growth is strong, the market has encountered some problems that are common among insurance sectors in the emerging world. The sector saw lackluster performance in 2015, 2016 and 2017, which was a result of slow growth amid issues with fraudulent claims, particularly in the medical and motor segments. In 2017 particularly, the prevailing political environment regarding elections affected growth in the sector as a wait and see mode was set for local and foreign investors. Insurers also struggled to expand coverage among a large informal economy and income-sensitive population. The upside of this of course was the increased uptake of the political risk insurance cover (commonly known as PVT) as businesses sought to take a precaution and cushion themselves on the possibility of assets suffering damage during the electioneering period. However in 2018, with a wide array of innovative local insurance market leaders, the Kenyan insurance landscape has the potential for a sizable expansion of domestic market penetration. The country also presents a solid base for reaching other African markets, which bodes well for drawing further interest from investors. Kenya plays a key role in the African Insurance Organization (AIO) and the interaction should spur growth in the lager East African market and beyond. With more focus on customer service as a key growth factor, 2018 should give a better outcome. Most insurance companies have in the last one or two years realized they need to have more focus on the different selling channels and so most companies now have a bancassurance department for example. This should lead to a more focused tailor made approach to innovation of products and subsequent distribution. A number of high-profile companies had cyber breaches
last year. What does HFIA have in place for this (cyber insurance) or what are the plans for such an almost grey area? Cybercrime is a new and emerging risk in the global market mainly targeting IT firms and the financial services sector. HFIA has partnered with AIG Insurance to provide a tailor made cyber insurance solution for the customers based on the nature of their business. How likely are you to achieve your forecasts for 2018 considering the changes that have happened to date in the market? The economy is expected to grow at an average rate of 6% and we expect this to spur growth in all the sectors including insurance. We also expect the growth will spur new investments that will result in new insurance business opportunies. We have also put in place an extensive retention strategy for our existing business and consequently, we expect to retain at least 80% of our existing business. Because of the efficiency of the service we offer, we have already seen a trend of business referrals from extremely satisfied customers and this will continue to spur growth for HFIA. We have a professional and experienced team on board that keeps up with market trends and is customer focused. Which other classes of insurance (besides agriculture) offer prospects for growth this year? Marine insurance is still an area not yet fully exploited and we expect to grow in it. Full implementation of Insurance Act Section 20 on marine insurance business stipulating that “‘no insurer, broker, agent or other person shall directly or indirectly place
any Kenya business other than reinsurance business with an insurer not registered under the Act without the prior approval” means all marine insurance covers must be taken within the country. Marine insurance uptake is therefore expected to grow in 2018. Analysts say that innovation within the insurance industry has been slow. What is your take on this and what is HFIA doing about it? The insurance industry has been traditionally very conservative, although this is changing. Products have more or less been similar across companies, with little variations here and there. But there is a growing realization of the need for tailor made products instead of the mass ‘one size fits all’ concept. However, HFIA is partnering with key underwriters on certain products on a need basis for our customers, and so we have been able to get extremely good offerings at premium rates giving our customers good pricing without compromising on quality. Last year you launched AfyaMed targeting the older citizens. What do you have in the pipeline for this year? HFIA is slowly shifting from dependency on short term insurance covers to long term insurance to sustain its revenue base. Towards the end of 2017, we launched two long-term individual life covers - career life and fanaka savings plan- through the referral model across the bank’s branches. The said long-term polices will result in a longer relationship with our customers, giving greater opportunity for cross sell and expanding the agency’s portfolio.
AIRBUS FOUNDATION LAUNCHES YOUTH DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME IN KENYA
Guests during the launch of the Youth Development Programme in Kenya by the Airbus Foundation at the M-Pesa Foundation Academy.
he Airbus Foundation, together with its partners The Little Engineer and The Travelling Telescope - have launched the Airbus Little Engineer programme in Kenya. The goal of the initiative is to encourage students between the age of ten and sixteen years to understand and embrace technology, and ignite passion that could grow into an exciting career in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). In the spirit of “think global, act local”, the Airbus Foundation is working with The Travelling Telescope, a local organisation founded by Susan Murabana and Daniel Chu Owen that encourages both children and adults to learn more about astronomy. Since its launch in 2012, the Airbus Little Engineer programme has successfully positioned itself as an effective vehicle for discovery-based learning, working to enlighten and empower the youth in the fields of science and technology through robotics and aerospace.
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Held in partnership with the M-PESA Foundation Academy, the workshop challenged close to thirty Kenyan students to carry out a simulation of a launch mission to space. It focused on introducing students to the world of space exploration and enhancing their understanding of both the benefits and applications of space technology. Over the course of four hours, students assembled and launched a rocket, set up a base and established communications. “We want to support and work with Kenyan youth whose innovative and hightech spirit is getting stronger with many small and medium sized companies, social entrepreneurs and local non-profit organizations,” said Andrea Debbane, Executive Director of the Airbus Foundation. “The Airbus Little Engineer programme helps to facilitate access to STEM skills which are crucial in solving the complex problems of today. I would like to thank all partners for joining efforts and making this project possible in Kenya.” “We are very excited to be partnering with
The Airbus Foundation and The Travelling Telescope. The Airbus Little Engineer initiative fits well into how we approach education at the M-PESA Foundation Academy where we focus on leadership, technology, entrepreneurship training and co-curricular activities alongside academic learning” said Les Baillie, CEO of the M-PESA Foundation. Like in many African countries, in Kenya the youth will be the driving force behind sustainable growth across the country. According to the UN, in Kenya the small and medium-sized enterprises play a key role in the economic development, contributing 33.8% of GDP and 81.1% of employment opportunities. Most of these enterprises are run by young people aged between 18 and 35. Therefore, investment in education and training is essential in building an educated and skilled workforce. With the Airbus Little Engineer initiative, the Airbus Foundation aims at supporting the countries’ efforts in creating a sustainable pipeline of talent for Africa.
BRAINS AT WORK: Students assembling and launching rockets, besides setting up bases and established communications during the workshop.
A group of students who exhibited during the workshop.
SONY UNVEILS NEW FULL-FRAME ALPHA 7R III INTERCHANGEABLE LENS Alpha 7R III Interchangeable lens camera delivers the ultimate combination of resolution and speed
ony Middle East and Africa FZE is a 100% subsidiary of Sony Corporation and is the regional headquarters for the Middle East and Africa regions. The company is engaged in the business of Sony consumer electronics products, recording media and energy products, car audio and game (play station) products in more than 40 countries in the region. Apart from stock operations in the Jebel Ali Free Zone Establishment in Dubai, Sony Middle East and Africa leads execution of various logistics, sales, marketing, advertising and customer services activities through its business partners and representative offices. A representative office in Kenya and Pakistan, in addition to 262 accredited third party service centres reinforces Sony’s presence in key markets in the region. Sony Middle East and Africa has recently launched an addition to its full-frame mirror
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less camera line-up, the Alpha 7R III (model ILCE-7RM3). The company has also announced a new addition to its expanding full-frame e-mount lenses, the FE 24105mm F4G OSS standard zoom (model SEL24105G). “Sony is leading innovations in professional photography and videography by delivering new imaging experiences which have never before existed. Today, we are adding a new camera, the Alpha 7R III for the most demanding professional,” says Taro Kimura, managing director, Sony Middle East and Africa. “The full frame camera market growth and Sony is contributing to this growth with its range of industry defining Alpha cameras and lenses. We hope these new products will significantly enhance our customer offering and help us to consolidate our market standing,” adds Kimura. The Alpha 7R III An evolutionary leap in image processing
power and efficiency, the new Alpha 7R III combines a high-resolution 42.4 MP1 backilluminated Exmor R CMOS image sensor with impressive shooting speeds at up to 10 fps with full AF/AE tracking, as well as beautiful image and 4K video quality, wide 15-stops dynamic range, high sensitivity
with noise reduction of almost a full stop and more. With these immense capabilities and a compact, lightweight body, it is an extremely versatile tool for photographers, videographers, multi-media creators and all other professionals who demand reliability, flexibility and versatility. A new level of Image Quality The Alpha 7R III sports an updated BIONZ Xtm image processor that boosts processing speed approximately 1.8 times faster than its predecessor, achieving nearly twice that burst shooting speeds compared to 10 fps2, with full autofocus when using the mechanical shutter or the electronic shutter. The maximum ISO has enabled its impressive ISO range of 10032000 (expandable to ISO 50-102400 for still images) and massive 15-stop4 dynamic range at low sensitive settings. The new mirror less camera is equipped with a 5-axis optical image stabilization system that has been fine-tuned to support its high-resolution shooting
capacity, resulting in a 5.5 step shutter speed advantage - the world’s highest compensation performance for an image stabilization system. Offering a new software suit called ‘imaging edge’, the Alpha 7R III extends creative capabilities for pre and post processing work, like live-view PC remote shooting and RAW development. Pixel shift multi shooting is a new feature that will debut with the Alpha 7R III, which shifts the sensor in 1-pixel increments to capture four separate pixel-shifted images. These four images can be composited together and processed utilizing the new imaging edge software suite. Other improvements include higher resolution OLED electronic viewfinder (EVF), dual SD card slots (for UHS-II and UHS-I cards) and USB Type-C (USB 3.1, Gen 1) port. Additional improvements in focusing flexibility include AF availability in focus magnifier mode, focal-plane phasedetection. AF support when using A-mount lenses, an ‘AF On’ button, a multi-selector
or ‘joystick’ for moving focusing points quickly, flexible touch focus functionality and a 3-inch touch screen for touch focus. The Alpha 7R III is capable of shooting 4K video and offering 4K video recording across full width of the full-frame image sensor. When shooting in Super 35mm format, the camera uses full pixel readout without pixel binning to collect 5K of information, oversampling it to produce high quality 4K footage with exceptional detail and depth. It also records HLG (hybrid log gamma) medata, which allows HLG compatible HDR displays to accurately display the footage without requiring any post processing. High frame rate shooting is also present at 1080p 120fp. High optical performance and outstanding resolution Sony has also expanded the full-frame lens line up with a new compact, lightweight FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS standard zoom covering wide-angle to mid-telephoto range. The new full-frame lens covers the commonly used 24 to 105mm focal length range, delivering outstanding G LensTM imaging performance with the most lightweight design in its class 1, maximizing its versatility and usability. The FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS can be used for versatile shooting such as landscape, portrait, wedding among others. This lens also features fast, precise and quiet autofocus capabilities in both still and video shooting, making it an ideal complement to Sony’s extensive line-up of E-mount cameras. It delivers excellent corner to corner sharpness throughout the entirety of its zoom range, while also producing beautifully rendered ‘bokeh’ or background defocus at all focal lengths.
By Catherine Kuria
ave you ever tried looking at things from an ant’s perspective? Have you ever tried to view the world as if you were an ant? One day, while sitting on a bench in a park, I saw an ant that tried lifting a crumb that looked thrice its size. It’s amazing how the ant took on the task, no matter how big and intimidating it might have been. That observation got me thinking; if I were an ant, would I have lifted the crumb or I would have just backed away and given all sorts of excuses? However, one thing became clear to me in the process; there are a lot of things that we can and should emulate from ants. One of them is that ants are very industrious. The positive character traits of ants may have informed the decision taken by three young entrepreneurs to start a business aptly named: Ants of Africa. Beautiful, jolly, charming, warm and tough are some epithets that crossed my mind when I first met the trio. Ants of Africa
ANTS OF AFRICA: DYNAMIC TRIO WITH THE KNACKS FOR BUSINESS
is a startup company that has developed and patented a revolutionary product that replaces the use of steel wool when cleaning pots and pans, washing detergent and petroleum jelly with Shea butter. It was started in the year 2011 by Ms. Margaret Saru Kalama, Ms. Mary Lwawasi Kalama and Mr. Mtawali Mweni. Their vision was to venture into the cleaning industry, but their business never got to see the light of day because they had full time jobs (then bankers) that they put more effort into and lost focus with scaling their business. Fast forward to 2016, the idea of manufacturing soot remover was born and since they registered their company, things fell into place quickly. Inspiration behind Ants of Africa “The idea came to us in December 2016 in Taita Taveta County where during the festive season, there is a lot of cooking and merry making. Things are usually not so merry for the women though - they normally use firewood to cook most meals and usually take a lot of time to wash their soot stained sufurias with sand and water,” says a vibrant Mary. They came up with the idea to formulate a paste solution to remove the carbon soot with ease. Their mission was to look for formulators locally who understood their idea clearly and develop the product for them. It took them many months, but in May 2017, they were lucky enough
Ms. Margaret Kalama and Mary Kalama, two thirds of the founders of Ants of Africa.
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Ants of Africa products.
since they came up with the following products: masizi (Soot remover) which is their flagship brand, ruby petroleum jelly (with three variants) and spring (manufacturing hand washing powder). The identical sisters say they look forward to having a range of other products like bar soap and bathing soap to grow their portfolio. Why manufacturing? Their decision to engage in manufacturing was inspired by the need to solve one domestic challenge; remove carbon soot stain on stainless surfaces. They did their own feasibility study and found that the market was only offering the conventional way of washing cooking pots which is by using steel wool or stainless scouring pad. “There is no other product in the market that effectively removes soot with a sponge or scouring pad. The reason to enter into manufacturing came naturally as our product is unique, solves a problem and is scalable as a business,” chips in Margaret. The incentives given to local manufacturers in terms of finance, space and marketing of their products by the government also informed their decision of venturing into manufacturing.
Business model Their model currently is business-tobusiness. This means that they target both wholesalers and retailers who buy their products in bulk, before selling them to individual customers. The fast moving consumer goods (FMCGs) market has traditionally been associated with many barriers to entry and it has therefore been dominated by big manufacturing companies with financial muscles. Nevertheless, times are changing and many small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are making forays into the market. E-commerce is also becoming common in a market associated with selling and distributing products physically. “We do not see this as a threat to the conventional retail focused FMCG business. The e-commerce route to market offers a world of opportunity for the established FMCG players. We know it can be hard when you are in an established category to look outwards. Sometimes, the struggle is to merely see the limitless possibilities,” says Mtawali. Business performance and monetary injections Their products have received good reviews in the market. A feature they did
on a local television station enhanced the visibility of their brand. Sales increased due to the feature and they are currently competing favourably in the market with other players. The future of their business is looking very bright since they understand the dynamics of the industry and are able to keep up with the market trends. Their seed capital was Kshs. 500, 000 and it catered for formulas, training, patents fees, raw materials as well as other regulatory fees. Why venture into fast moving consumer goods? Ants of Africa made a decision to venture into manufacturing fast moving consumer goods because of the need to solve a domestic need – the removal of carbon soot in cooking utensils that will ease the burden of cleaning cooking utensils. Target market and growth plan The total population of women in Kenya was reported at 50.3 % in 2016 according to the World Bank collection of development indicators, compiled from officially recognized sources. Their target market is 2% of this number. They are currently a cottage industry with operations in their house which
YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR makes production slow because they are yet to mechanize their processes. They have applied for facilitation from a financial institution, help from friends, family and their personal savings in order to realize their goal . Their growth plan is categorized into three parts: Stage 1 (January 2018- December 2018) Locate and lease suitable manufacturing facility Mechanize their processes and establish proper working systems Establish a sales team and distribution network Establish a good working environment with suppliers and distributors Use above and below the line media of advertising Successfully penetrate the target market Secure contracts to achieve projected sales goals Stage 2 (January 2019- December 2020) Move operations to other parts of the country i.e. Mombasa, Kisumu, Eldoret and Naivasha Establish warehouse facilities in these counties to meet the product demand Increase the sale staff Formulate marketing strategies for different markets to keep their product demand on top Become a profitable company Stage 3 (January 2021- January 2022) They plan on moving to Tanzania to set up a factory Set up a plant Establish a good distribution network Establish a solid reputation as an industry leader They plan on marketing their products to the consumer to establish brand loyalty and set up the supply chain to ensure the product is adequately priced while still generating a commercially viable profit. Additionally, they plan to focus more on cluster - a region that contains more than one viable market. They also plan on hiring competent staff who will buy into the vision of the company and develop the product from the packaging, labels and formulation. Achievements They have successfully managed to get patent registration for Masizi Dishwashing paste. They have been registered by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) and
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National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA). They have been featured on The Entrepreneur- a show that airs on KTN every Thursday. They have also been able to supply their products to various wholesalers and retailers in Nairobi, Voi and neighboring country Tanzania. According to them, their biggest joy and achievement is being able to formulate a product that is currently not in the market that is unique in its formation and usage. Hurdles a Their greatest challenge has been lack of adequate capital to fully commence operation in their business plan. In addition, acquisition of monetary support to keep the business afloat has not been a walk in the park. Moreover, lack of mechanism needed in their line of work has also slowed down their rate of production. However, this trio has the drive and motivation that keep them glued on their only focus; making it big in the industry. They are looking at partnering with any business that is keen on empowering the youth rather than profit making only. They
believe in youth empowerment and social change and they strive to realize that change for a better tomorrow. Advice to young aspiring entrepreneurs This is their advice to young entrepreneurs in verbatim: “Go for it. Do not look at your pockets. Possibly, you don’t have deep pockets but just start. As long as you are confident, that this is what you are supposed to be doing, do it. So many people will dismiss you in the market place, but don’t be disrupted. Just have a plan, start and success will follow. Do not procrastinate saying that you’ll do it tomorrow, just start. Most importantly, do your research on your specific area of interest. Money should not be a hindrance to starting a business. Things will align themselves if you put God first. Lastly, take criticism positively and learn to soldier on after a fall.”
CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSBILITY IS MORE THAN PHILANTHROPY
n the past, corporate social responsibility (CSR) was a way of throwing a few crumbs from business revenues to the community as a means of sanitising the mega profits made by the company. In essence, that was corporate philanthropy whereby donations were made to a few worthy causes amidst the presence of journalists furiously clicking their cameras. The photos would then end up in the annual reports where through carefully crafted words of self-praise , a story of how the company had done good to the society was narrated. CSR was mainly a feel good factor issue because the company felt neither responsibility nor obligation to act responsibly. The company viewed itself as a messianic do-gooder spreading cheer and smile to whoever fell in the path of its kindness. This was often done in a haphazard ma nner devoid of critical thought or careful planning. All was well for as long as the company got some good word thrown for it in the press. CSR is much more than philanthropy
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Today however, CSR has evolved beyond philanthropy. It now incorporates several core issues as shown in the figure below: Clearly, investing in community through philanthropic initiatives is only one of the aspects of CSR. Today, a lot of progress has been made in terms of defining CSR and ensuring companies fully understand their responsibilities. There are several initiatives towards this. These include the ISO26000 standard, United Nations Global Compact Initiative and the Global Reporting Initiative. The ISO26000 standard provides guidance on how businesses and organizations can operate in a socially responsible way. On the other hand the Global Compact Initiative is a UN strategic policy for businesses that are committed to aligning their operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. On its part the Global Reporting Initiative provides guidelines on how companies can report the CSR activities in a comprehensive manner. Redefining CSR CSR has to be understood in the context of sustainable development. Business canâ€™t
just focus on profit making. They have to ensure they do so in a manner that is sustainable or else future generations will be bequeathed a world in which life is unsustainable. ISO 26000 accordingly defines CSR as the responsibility of an organization for the impact of its decisions and activities on society and the environment, through transparency and ethical behaviour that: (a) contributes to sustainable development, including health and welfare of society (b) takes into account the expectation of stakeholders (c) is in compliance with applicable law and consistent with international norms of behaviour (d) is integrated throughout the organization and practices in its relationships. This approach conflicts with the narrow definition of CSR as corporate philanthropy. For instance, a company whose activities are harmful to the environment will be acting in a socially irresponsible manner regardless of how many donations it makes. It will be tantamount to giving with one hand while taking more with the other. Such a company would better spend time and money reducing its negative impact on the environment instead of making donations
BUSINESS KIT: MARKETING and posing for the camera. Thus the interests of shareholders, stakeholders and the general public have to be considered in a carefully choreographed exercise of balancing conflicting aspirations and expectations. Profit maximization must be tempered with concerns about environmental protection and ethical conduct. The era of profits by all means necessary is well behind us. Companies must not only engage in serious soul searching about their activities, but also endure serious and robust scrutiny by many actors in the society. Every decision therefore must be weighed carefully against its impact on society. Comprehensive CSR framework The issues to be considered in CSR include the following; i. The environment – the business should carry out its activities in a manner that protects the environment from harm. While negative impact can’t be eliminated, the business should do all it can to reduce such impact. That is why you will find both KCB and Safaricom sustainability reports tackling environmental issues such carbon footprint and use of materials such as water and trees. Safaricom seeks for example to power its base stations using renewable energy such as solar and wind instead of diesel. ii. Human rights – the business should ensure it respects human rights and avoids being complicit in human rights abuses. Today, companies have to deal with issues of fair trade requirements by human rights savvy consumers. That is why a local multinational specializing in pineapple farming had its products being rejected by European supermarkets due to mistreatment of its neighbouring communities. iii. Labour practices – a responsible company should have fair labour practices and ensure issues such as diversity are considered. Also employees’ rights to join labour unions shouldn’t be curtailed. Practices such as forced labour and child labour should be eliminated. Diversity should ensure employee composition equitably represents all groups including minorities, gender, youth, disabled etc. iv. Fair operating practices – the company should act with integrity and avoid unethical conduct such as corruption, unfair competition and illegal operations to mention but a few. v. Consumer issues – the company
should uphold consumer rights and ensure its products are safe for consumption. vi.Community involvement and development – the company should involve itself in the affairs of the community it operates in and support the community to develop economically and socially. This is where initiatives such as donations to projects come in. This area has often been emphasized at the expense of other aspects of CSR. CSR reporting While reporting on CSR, the business needs to ensure it covers the issues above and what it is doing to improve on them. For example, reducing carbon footprint by ensuring employees only travel when really necessary or otherwise use video conferencing. Since the reporting is done on an annual basis, there is need to compare year on year performance. This will help in comparing progress for instance if in the year 2013 the ratio of men to women was say 70:30 and in 2014 it is 60:40 this would be an improvement in terms of enhanced gender equity. If the same has changed to 75:25, then it would mean there is regression and more effort is needed. Considering that self-reporting can easily turn into self-praise where the company only reports positive developments or even exaggerates them it may be critical to engage external players such as consultants. This can make the report more valuable as it would be viewed to be more objective. As for the content to report, the Global Reporting Initiative and the ISO26000 standards provide a comprehensive framework. Locally, companies such as Safaricom
and KCB have led the way in embracing CSR reporting through production of annual sustainability reports. These reports are comprehensive narratives of the efforts the companies are undertaking to do business responsibly. Future of CSR Sometimes ago, I came across a cover of a business magazine with the title “Is CSR dead?” Well, CSR is not dead. In fact, it is growing strong. Companies can no longer hide their dirt or cover it with donations to communities. A holistic approach to CSR has been developed and demands can only increase with time. Since companies are required to ensure that even their supply chain does not endanger their responsibility credentials, as a supplier, you may find yourself being asked for a CSR report when tendering in future. Shareholders also have to be concerned about CSR issues since implementation of most measures also make the company better in addition to being good for the society at large. For instance, a company with fair labour practices will have a more motivated work force. Going green by using renewable energy will eventually reduce operating costs hence more profits. For those of us in small business, questions may be asked as to whether we ought to be bothered with CSR issues. While we may not be in a position to implement elaborate and expensive CSR initiatives or even produce glossy reports, we can do whatever little as per our capacity. We may be small but collectively, our negative impact on the environment is not. We therefore need to do more and carry out our businesses responsibly since it makes them more sustainable. Doing nothing is not a strategy.
HIRING THE RIGHT PEOPLE:
WHAT SHOULD MANAGERS LOOK FOR?
n today’s competitive business environment, managers need to hire the right people to avoid disastrous results. Successful managers recognize the ever-increasing challenge of bringing great candidates on board. They focus on getting the right people, for the right job, and at the right time. However, achieving this has been difficult in the present-day economic environment. Employees want jobs that fit their lifestyles, but not their employers. They look for huge benefits, flexibility, and a sense of purpose. Some of them possess theoretical knowhow, but lack the required practical skills. Research has shown the cost of a bad hire may range from four to six times the staff’s annual remuneration. It includes training costs, re-hire costs, time wastage, management distractions, and demoralization just to mention a few. It is worth noting that appropriate hiring is as important as retaining top talent in an
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organization. It is a necessity, not an option. This is so especially in the current economic climate, characterized by increased competition and similar product and service offering. Hiring the right people is one way of staying ahead of your competitors. They help a company to stand out in the face of its rivals. It is the foundation of excellence in management. Apparently, 95 percent of management’s success is rooted on one’s capacity to bring the right people on board. These people, provided with the appropriate methods, tools, and processes, can make a great difference for the company. It can be said that most of the management problems emerge from wrong selection. God to Great, a book authored by Jim Collins, has provided some of the best methods the managers should consider during the hiring process. Collins affirms that the initial responsibility of the management is to “get the right people on the bus, get
the right people into the right seats on the bus, and then get the wrong people off the bus.” Important aspects during the selection First, is thinking through the job. It involves writing down the traits required from the ideal candidate for a particular job. The specific quantifiable results expected from the new candidate should be transcribed. It should be followed by noting down the basic skills, which the candidate should possess in order to achieve the best results. It requires careful interviewing to ensure the skills have been exhibited in the past. Future performance can only be envisioned by past performance. Lastly is the ability of the candidate to get accustomed to the company’s culture and work well in teams. Personality and attitude are the main determining factors to achieve this. People with a positive mind-set fit well
BUSINESS KIT: HR in a group, and are easily trainable and manageable. The SWAN Formula Companies can use the SWAN Formula when contemplating to hire new employees. It was recommended by John Swan, an executive recruiter, who deemed it appropriate for improving the hiring procedure. The formula has been acknowledged by various executives including Brian Tracy, a savvy leadership and management consultant. The SWAN Formula has worked well for companies such as Google Inc. S stands for Smart. Hiring intelligent candidates is vital. However, how do you tell whether a candidate is smart? Smart people tend to ask many questions related to the company. Such questions reveal their passion, competencies, and skills required to thrive on the job. Success and intelligence are directly related. Successful persons are smart, are more productive, and work faster while making few mistakes. W stands for Work hard. Hiring managers should look for individuals who have the willingness to work hard. It should be demonstrated by their past work backgrounds, which should show long and hard working hours (evenings and weekends). This is directly related to job success. Employees who are accustomed to working hard require less supervision and work more than the recommended forty hours in a week. In the present day competitive environment, the majority of leaders and managers spend some of their weekends and holidays accomplishing pending tasks. According to Marshall Goldsmith, an international business executive coach, this is one of the major ways to stay ahead of competition. A stands for ambition. Ambition indicates the candidateâ€™s willingness to move ahead and accomplish set goals. Ambitious individuals have the willingness to seek more training, read broadly in their respective specialty, and look for personal and professional growth opportunities. Hiring managers should be able to identify ambitious candidates. The latter should also explain why they feel they are the best candidates for the job. Ambitious individuals do not primarily focus on available benefits or future promotions, but on accomplishing the assigned tasks and achieving best results. This is not only beneficial to the organization, but also to the potential candidate. His/her probability of being promoted to senior level increases. N stands for Nice people. Likability is a key factor that a potential candidate should possess. This is so particularly for people who directly deal with clients such as front
office and customer service. People are not hired and trained to be likable, thus it is always vital to hire nice ones. However, it is a difficult responsibility to know whether a candidate is nice or not. It thus requires the hiring manager to be cautious and attentive to detail during the selection process. Some of the qualities of nice people include cheerfulness, positive attitude, polite and easy to associate with among others. Getting a nice person to join the rest of the team means finding the best fit for the job. At the end of it all, the capacity of the hiring manager to take on the right people to be part of the organizationâ€™s team is the key to motivation. They become excellent performers thus contributing to the overall growth of the company. Carefulness and thoroughness should be observed from the initial stages of recruitment. Great people integrate well in teams. Great team means having a passionate, diverse, smart, hardworking, savvy, constructive, and ambitious workforce that adds value not only to the organization, but also to the customers. Managers can hire the right people by following the Law of Three for interviewing candidates.
which interview several candidates for the same position. Different candidates possess different skills and capabilities and this can only be learnt during the interview process. Interviewing many people means having a wide range of selection, and a high probability of choosing the appropriate candidate. During the second and the third interviews, candidates should be interviewed in three diverse places. It has been established that an individualâ€™s personality is affected by a change of setting. Most candidates exhibit their best during the initial interview. This means that the successive meetings can reveal their true personality. The candidates should be interviewed at least three different times. This allows the hiring team to know the candidates better in terms of their personality, their skills as well as what they can bring to the company. The candidates should be interviewed by a team of not less than three people. These people bring their different ideas regarding the position to the table. They also compare their notes regarding the interviewed candidates thus, selecting the most suitable one.
The Law of Three By using the Law of Three, some companies such as Google have avoided expensive hiring mistakes. The first step is to interview a minimum of three candidates for a certain position. This is the trend for most large organizations,
Lastly, the candidate should have three references, who should be asked certain questions concerning the applicant. In a nutshell, the underlying goal of good hire is to cut costs of bad hire, increase organizational productivity and effectiveness.
By Dr. Kellen Kiambati PhD. HRM(K) CBPO(A)
PEOPLE YOU WILL ENCOUNTER AS
here are many types of people who regularly cross the path of a leader. As you climb the ladder , you’ll encounter people who are where you used to be, taking a similar path as well as the ones who are in the place that you want to be. Many of the difficulties that you’ll encounter come from not knowing how to deal with the issues and situations raised by these different groups. When we don’t know how to disengage and engage with people, it causes pain. Knowing more about these eight types of people can help you to deal with them appropriately: 1. Positive and negative people; 2. People you have outgrown; 3. People who are tied to yesterday’s solutions; 4.”That’s not my job” people; 5. People who have not moved on; 6. People who can give you new perspective; 7. People you can be transparent to; 8. People who can celebrate your success.
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Adding value You’ll encounter both positive and negative people. It’s easy to recognize positive people; they are the ones who add value to your life. As you move up your ladder, it’s important to have positive people around you. We are all built with a need for approval and we want to be around people who add value by agreeing with us. It’s also important to understand that agreement is not always positive and disagreement is not always negative; people can disagree with us and still add value. But there are some people who will not agree with us at all. What can you do about these people? Which strategy can you employ when dealing with them? Recently, I heard a very insightful remark from a colleague: “To appease everybody is to invite trouble.” As a company or an organization grows, you will find yourself appeasing fewer people. Appeasement means that you have to find the middle of the road. The more you travel in the middle of the road, the more mediocre you shall be. Excellence is found on the edges, never in the middle. Saying “yes” to one
group or person and “no” to another invites challenges on each side. Many times, when a negative person gives you his opinion, he expects you to follow it. That’s why it’s important to be around people who are willing to give you input without a demanding spirit. These are the positive people, the ones who will add value and help you reach your destination. Outgrowing people You must also deal with people you have outgrown. Growing is necessary; it’s what keeps you moving. There will be folks who started the journey with you whom you will outdistance. Maybe there’s someone who was an integral part of your organization who just hasn’t grown with you. People have to understand that if you don’t grow, you’ve got to go. People who are tied to yesterday’s solutions are another concern. Dealing with the “old guard” is an issue that every leader has to wrestle with. In the early stages of an organization, we throw people at issues. When you began your church, you just wanted someone to play the
BUSINESS KIT: LEADERSHIP
keyboard. You weren’t concerned about the person’s musical pedigree. If you and your son started a landscaping business, for instance, you’re not looking for people with vast experience. You’re just looking for someone who is breathing, who can come to work and push a lawn mower. So you might just hire your neighbor’s son, who is also your son’s friend. After a certain amount of growth, we begin refining our approach or expertise. When that happens, that’s when we realize that the people who are working for us are not working out. Maybe they don’t understand what you want, don’t want to learn contemporary worship songs, or wonder what’s wrong with the way they’ve always done things. What do you do with those people now? Yesterday’s solutions have become today’s problems. And because the young man you hired to push the lawnmower is your son’s friend, your son may not like it when you let him go. Your neighbuor may not like it either. Solving issues about yesterday’s solutions are often complicated. Not my job Then there are the “that’s not my job” people. When you hire people, they’re typically tied to job descriptions. At higher levels, you are less concerned with job descriptions than you are with the three essential factors of: character, competency and chemistry. Competency is about the skills, the training, and the experience required to get the job done. Character is about integrity. Bill Hybels describes integrity as what you do when there’s nobody watching you. You want to know that you can trust this person. Chemistry on the other hand is a character trait that can cause problems. It raises fundamental questions like, “Does this person fit in?” “Can he get along with other people?” You also have to cope with people who have not moved on. A leader is always dynamic, while organizations tend to be static. When the vision and the movement of the leader do not mirror the vision and movement of the organization, they’re out of sync with each other. We call that tension lack of organizational congruence or alignment. When you have moved on and your organization has not, you have to figure out who is going to take the journey with you and who is not. You have to think about where you’re going and who can help you to get there. It’s also important that you find people who can give you new perspective. The most productive time of a new employee in any organization “secular or sacred” is the first three months. After that, they do not add the same value. In the first three
months, they give you perspective by questioning the way you do things. They might say, “Didn’t I just fill out a form that asked me for this same information?” They find redundancies, they look for duplication, and they look for ineffectiveness. They find more effective ways to do things, they bring new ideas with them. After three months, they know survival involves falling in step, so their DNA becomes that of the organization. When a president of a certain college was hiring people, he always had a conversation with a new employee and their supervisor. He would bring them together on the first day and encourage the new person to ask questions and tell the supervisor not to be threatened by the questions. He would tell them that those questions would help them to reconfigure and reinvent themselves, and help them to make improvements. New people bring a perspective that others cannot give you because they see things at another level. Whether they’re internal or external, you’ll be able to recognize these change agents immediately by the fresh perspective they offer your organization. It’s equally important to have people you can be transparent to. As you rise in leadership, it becomes increasingly difficult to find people you can talk to about your inner issues. There are fewer and fewer people you can be transparent to, reveal your fears to, and have them listen to your concerns. Since these are not issues you can talk about with just anybody, you need a few people in your life that you can talk to. Chances are that the people you had conversations with two years ago may not be the same people you’ll be having conversations with in years to come. Why is it so difficult to find people to talk to? It’s because the stakes are higher. When your landscaping company was just two men and a truck, you could talk about anything while driving down the road. But when you have 10 trucks and
100 employees, you’re not going to talk to everyone about the equipment you’re going to buy, about your plans to leverage your business, or about who you’re going to let go because they’re not working well. There are fewer people who understand the reality of your position. You can find a lot of people when you’re are at the two-men-in-a truck level. But you’re going to have fewer people available when the organization expands. It really can be lonely at the top but it doesn’t have to be. Celebrating your journey You should also find people who can celebrate your successes. We are told to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. Unfortunately, people find it easier to weep with those who weep than to rejoice with those who are rejoicing. Let’s say that while both of us started an organizations at the same time, your organization took off fast , and left mine i struggling. It’s very difficult for me to have the type of relationship with you where I can celebrate and rejoice with you. You want people who will say, “Yeah man! It’s great that you’re doing well!” You want people who can be the wind beneath your wings, who can cheer you along, who won’t get jealous or envious, who won’t disengage from you because you’re doing well. You want people who can help you celebrate your journey. Dr. Kellen Kiambati holds a PhD in business administration with a focus on strategic management from JKUAT and an MBA from KEMU. She is a certified business associate (CBPA) and a member of the Institute of Human Resource Management of Kenya. She is also the author of Business Research Methods and can be reached on kellenkiambati@gmail. com.
By Dr. Kellen Kiambati PhD. HRM(K) CBPO(A)
TRAINING EFFORTS AND PERFORMANCE OF ORGANIZATIONS
uilding organizational capabilities is a top strategic priority, but the inability to measure its impact is a growing concern among executives. Executives around the world are striving to measure the impact of training and employee-learning programmes on the performance of business. Human resource (HR) and learning specialists need to take the lead in developing assessment processes and competency maps. They should also assume responsibility for integrating learning and development with the overall talent-management system: performance assessments, role definitions, career pathways, and the like. Sharing responsibilities—with HR guiding the “how” and the businesses the “what”— has a number of practical advantages, starting with the greater relevance of the resulting programmes to the actual work of employees. That, in turn, improves a
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programme’s credibility and effectiveness, thereby encouraging additional investment. When senior leaders become more confident about a programme’s contribution to business performance, they start thinking, as they assess strategic choices, about potential capability gaps, hence becoming better in estimating the potential value of filling them. Common perception Jack Welch once notoriously said that “engineers who can’t add, operators who can’t run their equipment, and accountants who can’t foot numbers become purchasing professionals.” Hyperbole aside, General Electric’s legendary boss was reflecting a common perception: the purchasing function is little more than a necessary evil in business. No surprise, then, that many companies under invest in the purchasing team’s capabilities and leave sourcing out of strategic decision-making processes in
favour of functions, such as manufacturing and sales, that drive revenue. Over time, of course, a negative compounding effect sets in: up-and-coming talent flows to the higher-status functions, often exacerbating the capabilities mismatch when difficult sourcing negotiations come up. If a supplier’s heavily supported sales team squares off against an underdeveloped purchasing team, the result, like that of a football match between Fiji and Brazil, is fairly predictable. Throwing away value Yet purchased materials and services make up 60 to 80 percent of a product’s total cost in many industries. As a result, companies that do not invest appropriately in the purchasing team’s capabilities and culture are throwing away more value than they realize. Organizations that employ leading-edge purchasing practices achieve almost double the margins of
BUSINESS KIT: HR companies with below-average purchasing departments. To turn the purchasing function into a high-functioning strategic asset, an organization must first identify the specific capabilities that will create most value. They vary from one company to another but may include technical skills such as the ability to reverse-engineer a supplier’s cost structure accurately or to conduct a thorough supply-market analysis that produces insights leading to a competitive advantage. Leadership capabilities—such as the ability to navigate complex crossfunctional interests, to manage the tradeoffs required to meet competing needs, and to identify alternatives with perspicacity and tact—may also be important. A company can figure out which capabilities have the greatest potential to contribute to performance by conducting a bottom-up assessment of its technical and leadership capabilities and comparing them with relevant benchmarks. Traditional method of providing corporate training, through infrequent classroom sessions, is one of the least effective ways to build capabilities. Adults retain new ones more successfully if learning occurs through shorter, more frequent interventions in which the content is delivered “just in time.” That is, when training is tied to real work and the specific activities an individual must complete, trainees get immediate practice in incremental new skills that directly affect their day-to-day responsibilities. Over time, these new skills build on each other and develop into a complete set of improved capabilities. Change agents One of the most effective ways to act on these adult-learning principles and scale new capabilities quickly is the “train the trainer” approach. In this technique, a small number of highly skilled and motivated change agents go through a structured “field and forum” programme covering technical and leadership capabilities. While these change agents are in this programme, they are expected to transfer their newly acquired capabilities to others by acting as mentors for a cohort of key purchasing employees going through an actual category-sourcing process. These purchasing staffers, with some further training, then go on to become coaches and mentors themselves. Through this approach, a combination of coaching and on-the-job training creates an organizational-talent engine that scales up new capabilities rapidly. After the first phase of individual and institutional capability building, a company must focus on scaling, across the entire organization, the new way of doing business, so that it is sustainable over the long term. The final important
piece in the capability-building effort relates to culture: creating an environment in which purchasing professionals are proud of the value they add to the organization and have the confidence to take a leadership role in finding and delivering new sources of value. Such cultural change is the bedrock of a sustainable transformation in a purchasing organization. Companies can push this change by creating highly visible senior role models who practice the new culture. These companies do so in several ways: instituting joint purchasing councils with responsibility for ensuring cross-functional collaboration and making use of the right forums to publicize successes throughout the organization and build excitement. Continuing to measure the attitudes and mind-sets of the staff carefully (using employee questionnaires and focus groups, for example) and then making targeted interventions to address challenges are important as well. Driving value For example, at one leading global communications company, a “victim” mind-set predominated in the purchasing function. Professionals within the group felt directionless and disheartened by an environment in which key sourcing decisions were often made without their involvement. To change this attitude, the company made sure senior leadership was involved in redesigning the purchasing organization, developing and institutionalizing a formal sourcing process, and implementing new databases and tools. Executives participated in weekly stakeholder meetings and periodic gatherings to address concerns as they arose. The company also made a significant effort to communicate the project’s successes to the whole organization. Eighteen months after its launch, the purchasing transformation was on track and exceeded some radical savings goals in many categories. The transformation was recognized as one of the most significant efforts the company had ever undertaken, not only because of the bottom-line impact, but also because the project fundamentally changed the way the organization operated .Companies that have invested in developing best-inclass purchasing capabilities have nearly double the margins of those that have not. By identifying the capabilities that will drive value, building them in real work situations using adult-learning principles, and institutionalizing them, a company can create sustainable performance improvements that enhance the bottom line. Even in a small business, when you invest in training for the employees and managers of your business, it can
positively or negatively influence employee performance. Whether the organization training is positive or negative on employee performance depends on the training implementation and approach. The primary purpose of organization training is to provide the skills employees need to make your business better overall. In essence, trained employees can help to achieve high quality products and services in a shorter time period. In addition, they provide better customer service experiences and engage more customers for longer periods. When you invest money in training your employees, they feel valued. With a higher sense of worth, employees become more loyal to your business. When employees develop greater loyalty, they are more willing to work harder and longer in order to make the business a success. Training can also provide employees with a feeling of empowerment. With empowerment comes the willingness to do whatever they have to do to get the job done. Overall, trained employees tend to benefit both their own careers and the company they work for. Disadvantages of training The primary disadvantage is the learning curve employees may experience during the training, or because of the introduction of a new system or technology. For example, if you are implementing a new software system that employees have to use to complete their job tasks on a daily basis, the time they take to learn the new system can cause a decrease in business production. Some employees are resistant to change and therefore may develop a negative attitude toward adopting the new process, which also makes them resistant to the training involved. A focus on training for a small business or organization is generally most beneficial when it is ongoing. Whether you present formal workshops or courses to employees or offer hands-on daily training opportunities, you can increase the skill and work product level of your employees by implementing ongoing training efforts. It helps individual employees to increase productivity and advance their personal careers while boosting the bottom line. Dr. Kellen Kiambati holds a PhD in business administration with a focus on strategic management from JKUAT and an MBA from KEMU. She is a certified business associate (CBPA) and a member of the Institute of Human Resource Management of Kenya. She is also the author of Business Research Methods and can be reached on kellenkiambati@gmail. com.
IS MARKETING AN ART OR A SCIENCE?
he question as to whether marketing is an art or a science has been asked and answered for many decades as the marketing profession continues to develop. While the once robust debate has waned over time, this is still a relevant question. It has far reaching implications on how we understand and practise marketing. In the post-world war II era, many professions developed fast as industrialisation gained momentum. Most sciences were firmed up and established themselves as respectable professions with strong regulatory regime and documented requirements. Marketing scholars wanted the profession to be viewed as a science so that it could be considered as prestigious
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as the other established sciences like medicine. Art or science? In the end, what we have today is one of the most open or liberal disciplines. Realistically, anyone can practise marketing whether or not they have been academically and professionally trained. Reality has muted the debate. In Kenya, marketing remains one of the least regulated professions. It is easy to enter and exit the profession without much scrutiny or consequences. Art and science can be defined in complex terms but for this article we can adopt the easier definitions. However, these easy definitions are not simplistic. They encompass a lot in demystifying both science and art. Simply put, art is “to do” and science is “to know”.
The art of marketing is concerned with practising the profession in the corporate arena, while its science is concerned with generation of knowledge in the academic and consultancy arena. The tragedy in the practice of marketing occrs when doing does not involve knowing. While that is more likely to harm the business, it can also harm the society. When crooked characters employ marketing strategies and tactics to sell harmful goods and services to society or even engage in a campaign of falsehood and misinformation, the profession is defiled and its honour diluted. There are many cases in which quacks have abused the profession. For instance, we know about the pyramid schemes which left death and destruction in their
BUSINESS KIT: MARKETING wake. Untested ideas were packaged and promoted as investment products. Another company engaged in a robust marketing campaign selling land which only existed in its advertisements. There have also been many complaints of people hoodwinked into buying insurance products without understanding what they are getting into. They only realise something is amiss when unexplained deductions appear on their payslips. By then it is too late to have any refunds made. Implications of the debate Entrepreneurs need to understand that marketing is not practised in a professional vacuum. Often, marketing has been harmed by the narrow prism in which it has been viewed as beginning and ending with selling. Many small and medium enterprises confuse marketing with selling thus limiting their growth by failing to benefit from the science of marketing. In its scientific form, marketing provides evidence based approach to decision making. On the contrary, practising marketing as a pure art results in endless trial and error with a steep learning curve and injurious impact on the company’s profits and financial sustainability. Decisions once made can’t be easily reversed the way an artist erases a wrong mark on a canvass. The science of marketing involves conducting research to inform decisions. It also involves informed application of theory wherein theories that have been developed across the decades are brought to life in decision making. Marketing models and predictive analytics inform the practitioners so that they do not have an intellectual blank cheque whereby anything goes. Why marketing is both an art and a science Marketing is a profession with a very significant creative component. The most important concept for any business is differentiation. How can you stand out from the crowd? How can the consumers see real difference between what you are selling and what competitors are offering? As such, great marketers are the ones who create superior product offerings and communicate the same most effectively to the target market. Thus, it is not a straight forward issue like applying accounting principles and procedures. Despite this, creativity must be tempered with knowledge if the results are to be sustainable. If the marketer relies on creativity alone, there is great risk of short term progress with little long term value. In the long term, what will endure is that which is deeply rooted in knowledge rather than the outcome of a single light bulb moment
or genius attack. Interactions between art and marketing Various marketing activities involve application of art. For instance product design, branding, packaging and even creation of physical evidence in service marketing. Furthermore, various marketing skills require artistic creativity for better impact. Such skills include communication, negotiation, selling and even strategy implementation. Art disciplines such as performing arts (music, poetry, drama, film, dance etc.) and visual arts (drawing, painting etc.) are required in marketing communication. Nonetheless, the application of these arts requires professional guidance when being used in marketing context. There are many players who perform such things to aid marketing yet they have little knowledge in the profession. This sadly minimizes the impact of their work and in some cases even ends up doing harm than good. A good example is the Aromat advert that became the butt of all manner of online jokes due to its low believability value. There are also operational realities that make marketing lean further on the art side. The environment in which marketing is practised is too dynamic to be simplified into a golden formula. For instance, there is no rule that can adequately prepare one to respond to adverse legislation such as the so called Mututho laws. One has to adapt creatively to survive in an ever changing environment. Also marketing is about dealing with human behaviour. While psychology helps marketers predict human behaviour to some extent, one still needs creativity to influence human behaviour. When it comes to certain products, consumers may not always know what possibilities exist towards meeting and exceeding their needs. This often happens in the tech world where the product developers lead the customers towards new discoveries. Also value is a complex concept. Consumers attach value both to aesthetics as well as other objective aspects of products. The marketer has to combine both the science and art and ensure that the product not only meets the needs, but also excites the customers due to its sleek looks while doing so within affordable price range. Interactions between marketing and science The marketer in his or her work must deal with complex psychological issues. Many models, laws and theories have
been developed and proven to work over time. The good thing about marketing is that there are no restrictions and you can creatively tweak these in practise. However, such re-engineering needs to be done carefully and in a limited scale. Failure to apply science in marketing has seen even large corporations make serious marketing blunders. When Safaricom recently reduced the data bundle expiry period from 120 days to a maximum of 30 days there was an outcry that forced the decision to be reversed though the maximum period was still lowered to 90 days. We know from a scientific point of view that while implementing negative changes, it is advisable to do so in small instalments rather than all at once. A minimalist approach to negative changes such as price hikes or variation of service terms is the scientific answer to such. This ensures the negative change does not shock the system resulting in irrational protests and loss of business. The goal necessitated by the negative change will be achieved at lower cost to the company. Also, the company has a chance to recover quickly from the impact of such change. When art is overemphasized in marketing, there is tendency to circumvent the professionals and adopt a “do it yourself” approach ostensibly to save costs. There is also preference for a narrow definition of marketing functions. The company can’t benefit fully from marketing because it does not invest well in it and when it tries, it does so grudgingly. Yet from a scientific point of view, the relationship between say advertising and sales is largely proven and underinvestment in advertising will impact on the sales. Conclusion Marketing is both an art and a science. Entrepreneurs need to appreciate that marketing has a science side which requires application of knowledge to back action. The idea that the entrepreneur can practise marketing himself without recruiting capable and accomplished professionals is dangerously naïve. The cost of doing the right thing may be known and evaded because it is seemingly high, but the cost of doing the wrong thing is hard to know and it maybe manifested when it is too late to recover. Entrepreneurs who fail to establish an approprate exchange rate between the art and science of marketing will no doubt fall by the wayside. If they survive, business to them will be an eternal struggle and they will never rise to the fullness of their potential.
4DS OF OVERCOMING THE PREMATURE TECHNOLOGY FATIGUE
he audit report is out. The findings are not looking good. But there is hope from the recommendations. Yes there has been revenue hemorrhage in the lending cycle due to inefficiency in the process and possibility of fraud. The audit report recommends a replacement of the current lending system or improvement of controls around it to safeguard this leakage. This is a relief for management and the board right? Not quite right. The reality sinks when recommendations are turned into actionable steps. The big question being, â€œwhere do we find a system that can do what the auditor has recommended?â€? So the journey begins. If there is an IT department, the manager or head of that unit makes informal contacts with known
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vendors to gather information. He or she gets tons of documents to plough through which are cascaded to either an internal team that does analysis and design or a contracted consultant. Requirements are hurriedly put together while pressure mounts on the continual bleeding each day there is absence of a solution. Out of box Pressure reduces sourcing to a hurried single sourced process based on minimal initial work. The process becomes hugely dependent on what the solution offers out of the box. This approach hands the software implementer the initiative to dictate the discussions about sourcing, implementation and support. The components to be licensed and why become decisions that
the implementer almost unilaterally makes. Any room for negotiation is left only where the client threatens to consider other offers, though at this point of sourcing, it is rather too late to exercise options. When it comes to implementation, decisions about how the system should be configured are based on how the system has been developed rather than how the enterprise does business. Where there are gaps, the out-of-box functionality wins because of the time constraints of implementation and high costs of customization that are tabled by the implementer. After months of meetings, configuring, customizing, trainings, testing, cleaning of data and finally migration, the system is declared ready for use. Day one comes and a loan officer attempts to create a loan
BUSINESS KIT: IT offer from the system and discovers he or she cannot find the right loan product or the calculations are all wrong. A call is made to the technical department (which has become a habitation for the software implementer’s technical team). That triggers the new operating model for the next couple of months. No transaction can subsequently be posted successfully in the system until a call is made to the technical department to oversee the process. Frustration The question still lingers: “Have we solved the problem raised in our audit report?” No one can quickly or authoritatively determine this answer. However, there is general consensus that not only has the problem not been solved, but a new one has been created. Why would a solution to our problem compound our problems? The result is frustration from senior management and board. You can bet how management and the board would review IT in the next board meeting. It doesn’t work. The vendors speak jargon. They complicate our lives. We are better off with our manual processes that we are familiar with and can manage the bleeding our own way. Bleeding in a manual process becomes acceptable in the face of compounded complexity. Technology becomes a source of fatigue rather than an enabler of transformation. Bleeding hurdles become acceptable compared to this new monster called an IT system that doesn’t work.
a tree with a blunt axe. More effort is used which leads to fatigue and waste of time without any tangible output. Sharpening the axe is the process of answering those questions before any vendor is spoken to or any deployment is done. I would recommend these 4Ds in the path towards finding the right solution; 1. Define:- Get a deeper understanding of the problem (what). What does revenue leakage mean? Is it quantifiable per day, annually? Which parts of the process are the weakest and contribute to the most leakage? Who / which unit is responsible for processes? Are there specific patterns in the leak (eg. certain types of products or customers?) 2. Design:-Having narrowed down to the specific what and why, then determine the strategic options to fix the problem. Is the problem fixable by a tweak of existing processes and systems? If not, to what extent does existing capabilities help stem the problem? If that extent is to be adopted what would be the benefit / loss? What extent would a complete rebuild of process / systems deliver transformation? What would be the initial and progressive transformation investment? 3. Develop:- Upon agreement on the most suitable approach to fix the defined “what”, the next step would be to develop
the “how”. This is the detail steps of how exactly the problem would be fixed. If it is a tweak of process / system, which process would be tweaked, when, what would be the impact to those who use it? Which communication channels would be used and why. What would be the process of managing the transition and options to revert back to the old process should such tweaks fail to meet objectives. 4. Deploy:-The next step is the actual cutting of the tree. If the choice was a tweak of existing system or processes, the plan should be set in motion as documented in step 3. If it is a complete change of systems / process, then the sourcing process sets in motion with a clear calendar and activities of what pre-sourcing, sourcing and postsourcing activities should be done by who and when. The software implementer fits in the program of the client not the other way round. This process may not at the onset guarantee a 100% fix of the problem but it definitely guarantees a 100% control and execution of the sourcing process which increases the likelihood of getting the right solution that would ultimately enable transformation. It is therefore important to give planning for sourcing of technology solutions adequate time and attention because that process can make or break an enterprise transformation programme.
Fine print Let’s trace our steps back to the starting point. The fine print in the audit report said, “it is recommended that an IT solution to fix the revenue leakage in the lending business should be found”. That line vaguely spells, ‘WHAT’ (IT solution) and ‘WHY’ (stop revenue loss) it should be done. It doesn’t provide details of why and what and neither does it spell the how. I suppose that is where the rain starts beating the client. “How”, you may ask? Loosely defined “what” (a system), non-existent or vague “why” (to seal revenue leaks or because auditors said so) and poorly executed “how” (call a vendor for demo and let’s negotiate pricing) is the beginning of failure. So what should a client do to ensure they adequately answer the questions, ‘what’, ‘why’, ‘how’ and ‘when’ in a succinct way that enables transformation rather than stifling it? Abraham Lincoln is quoted to have said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. The problem with hasty sourcing and rush for solutions is attempting to cut down
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By Eunice Macharia
AVOID BEING CONNED WHILE INVESTING IN PROPERTY
any Kenyans and nonKenyans have fallen prey to unscrupulous property dealers and conmen posing as property owners or brokers. In the process, they have lost a lot of money, crippling them financially. In some instances, this has led to conflicts with family members, partners or other business associates and in others, illnesses and death. It has affected persons from all spheres of life, some rich and others poor, some learned and others not so learned. Also, it cuts across all types of properties - urban, rural, agricultural, residential and commercial. To avoid or reduce the chances of being conned, there are some simple precautions that one can take. Let’s now look at what I
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consider as the top ten precautions: 1) KNOW YOUR AGENT/BROKER The first person you are likely to meet when buying a property is a property agent or a property broker. It is important that you carry out an investigation of who you are dealing with. There are many people who pretend to be property agents. How do you tell who is genuine and who is not? First, you should get the identification of the person. Request to see his identity card and make a copy for your reference. Also, get to know where they operate from. For instance, do they have an office? It is not okay to negotiate for properties worth millions of shillings from a restaurant or on the road side. Are they registered to practise as estate agents – ask for a copy of
their registration certificate and also confirm the registration with the Estate Agents Registration Board. All registered estate agents are gazetted at the beginning of every year, so obtain a copy of the Kenya gazette. It is easily accessible in the internet. You can also ask your agent to show you a copy. If possible, get a photo of the agent. It might help you to identify him or her in future if it becomes necessary. 2) KNOW THE SELLER It is absolutely critical that you know your seller even if you are transacting through lawyers. Do not buy the agent’s excuse that it is not possible to meet the seller, as sometimes they will make you believe. It is only in exceptional cases where the seller might not be in a position to meet the buyer
and even in those cases, the agent or the advocate should be in a position to make a full disclosure of the seller’s details, which you can proceed to verify. Once you have their details, identification card or passport, they should be counterchecked at the Registrar of Persons or at the immigration department. If the seller is a company, get a copy of their registration certificate and carry out the check at the Registrar of Companies. Whenever possible, arrange for a face to face meeting with the seller. Get to know what the sellers do. Where do they work? Do they have an office? Where do they live? Learn as much as you can about them. 3) KNOW THE PROPERTY When buying a property, you should obtain all the details relating to it. Obtain a copy of the Certificate of Title or Certificate of Lease. In the case of a Certificate of Lease, ask your agent, owner or lawyer to also give you the lease document. This is important because it is in the lease where its conditions are recorded. Once you obtain the documents, you can proceed to carry out a due diligence on the property. An official search is important and this should be done by you or someone you trust, agent or lawyer. Even if the agent or seller brings a recent search, you should also carry out one. You can also talk to the neighbours - especially in developed areas. Most neighbours know each other and they know whom the property belongs to. They even know where there are disputes. You can also talk to the administrators. The local administrators - sub chief , chief or the sub county commissioner are good sources of information. For those who may be wondering, these offices exist even in urban areas. There was a time I was offered an urban plot at an extremely good price and this made me suspicious. The agent was so persistent and was even willing to accompany me to the DO’s office to verify. Unfortunately, when we went to see the DO, he strongly cautioned us against proceeding with the purchase as there was a court case and an injunction on the plot. Try and get a history on the property like who the previous owner was. These details are normally available in the correspondence file for the property. Also check other documents ( like the Ndungu Report) and confirm that the property was not a public utility earmarked for repossession or set aside for a public utility like a road. If you suspect that the land is part of road reserve, check with KENHA or KURA. You must buy a survey map of the property. This is the only way to ascertain that the land
exists on the ground. Ever heard of ‘flying titles’? Then engage a licensed surveyor to confirm the beacons and the size of land. In summary, you must satisfy yourself that you are buying a legitimate piece of land that exists physically and on paper and one that has no controversy. 4) KNOW THE PRICE It is good practice to independently establish the price of the property that you are interested in. You can do this by engaging the services of a registered valuer. Although it will cost you a fee, you might end up saving a lot of money in negotiations. You also have the comfort of knowing that you are paying the correct price. Most property brokers ( and especially the unregistered ones) will quote higher prices than the ones in the market. In some instances, they have negotiated a price with the owners and then loaded their own commission over and above the selling price. Establishing the market price will therefore help you negotiate a better deal. 5) AVOID PAYING MONEY DIRECTLY TO THE PURCHASER Buying a property is a process that takes on average 90 days. Many sale contracts will include payment of a deposit. Property sellers ideally should not be paid any money directly until the transfer of the property is effected. The best way is to deposit any money paid as deposit with a registered estate agent or an advocate. The agent or the advocate will hold the money in a client account on behalf of the parties “ as stakeholders” and provide a guarantee to the seller that the money will be transferred to his or her account on completion of the sale. This way, your money is safe and should the sale fail, it will be reimbursed. A lot of sellers will present pressing needs as to why they need the money. For example, some will say they need to clear rates and ground rent arrears to obtain clearances or other family needs. Remember, the property is not yours until the transfer has been done. I had a case where a buyer paid rates directly to the City Council because there was a threat that the property would be auctioned only for the seller to turn around and refuse to sell the property. When the matter went to court, the seller said he no longer wished to sell the property but would reimburse the buyer the money in instalments! 6) AVOID CASH PAYMENTS Most conmen will insist on cash payments especially the deposit. This helps remove any paper trail where you can obtain their
details through the banks. Some are not even interested in the full purchase price. Once they get a deposit in cash, they go underground. Payment by cheques or bank transfer is more ideal. It will help you trace the person if the deal fails. 7) LEGAL ADVISE Engage a lawyer to draw a sale agreement for you and assist in the transfer. Although this will cost you a fee, it will safeguard your interests. Professional services should be embraced and not shunned. The professionals are conversant with sale processes and details that you may not be aware of hence protecting your interests. 8 OUTSTANDING STATUTORY PAYMENTS AND OTHER DUES A search on the property will show you if the property has any encumbrances like bank loans, any cautions or inhibitions. Please note that some of these must be cleared before a transfer is registered and it is good to engage the seller on how they intend to do this. For example, you will require a rent and rates clearance certificates which you cannot obtain until you are cleared by the respective county governments. Some processes can take long to clear and this affects the sale period. Also, ensure that the electricity and water accounts are up to date. 9) BE PATIENT You should not be in a hurry to close a deal. Conmen are very smart and smooth talkers. They will always claim that there are other interested parties who are almost closing the deal to create a sense of urgency on the buyer to make a commitment. You should resist any attempts to be rushed into an agreement before you have satisfied yourself that everything is in order. 10) FOLLOW YOUR GUT FEELING If a deal feels wrong, it probably is. You should walk away from a deal that doesn’t seem right even if the broker or agent tries to convince you otherwise. Sometimes, it is difficult to pinpoint what the issue is but if you have any discomfort, look for another property. It will save you a lot of tears later on. The writer is a registered valuer and estate agent. Currently, she is the deputy chair of the Institution of Surveyors of Kenya and a board member of the Estate Agents Registration Board. You may reach her on email :firstname.lastname@example.org
THE JOY OF WELL BREWED TEA
he joy of a well-brewed tea is incomparable. A cup of tea has the magic to turn a frown into a smile, to warm you up on a cold day and to cool you down on a hot one. Tea with breakfast is standard across the world. Therefore, a well brewed cup of tea each morning is a good start for the day, but it is usually the second one (often at ten o’clock) that is cherished the most. Late in the afternoon, just before rush hour, when the sun has mellowed and time seems still, another cup of tea comes in handy. In these moments, time is not measured in seconds but in sips. This is the best time to bask in the joy of a good day or momentarily escape from a bad one with a good cup of tea So where did this magic in a cup emanate from? The history of tea is as fascinating as the brew itself. The Chinese have consumed tea for thousands of years. Evidence indeed shows that emperors from the Han Dynasty did consume tea as early as 2nd Century BC. It is believed they used tea for its medicinal value. Ultimately, drinking tea became theirs and the world’s favourite pastime. Despite the Chinese consuming tea for thousands of years, it is during the Great British Empire that tea spread to different parts of the world. Kenyan highlands are perfect tea growing regions. Despite this, it took more than 2000 years for tea to be introduced in the Kenya’s highlands. The first tea was
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planted in 1903 by GWL Caine in what is present day Limuru. He didn’t plant it for its commercial viability; he planted it as an ornament. Kenya’s top foreign exchange earner began as a decoration. It wasn’t until two decades later that tea’s commercial viability was explored. Kenya with its ideal tropical climate, volcanic red soils and well distributed rainfall was begging to become a tea country.It got its wish in the second decade of the 20th Century. It’s in the 1920s that tea started being farmed commercially and it has grown to become Kenya’s top foreign exchange earner. Kenya is famed for its black tea. Black Tea is a type of tea that is more oxidized than others such as oolong, green and white teas. Black tea tends to be stronger than the less oxidized teas. In its purest form, Kenyan black tea is considered as one of the best quality in that category. It is described as full-bodied, robust with a bold tea flavour. So superior is Kenya’s tea that it is mixed with other teas creating blends such as Earl Grey tea, English Breakfast tea, English Afternoon tea, Irish Breakfast tea and Masala Chai. Due to its bold flavour, it goes well with milk and sugar too. However, to enjoy its best flavour, just mix it with water and some milk. Currently, we are the biggest black tea exporter in the world and third largest overall tea producer after China and India respectively. Kenya’s projected output of tea in 2017 is 412,000 metric tonnes.This is a significant reduction from last year when we produced 480,330 metric tonnes according to the East African Tea trade
Association (EATTA). This shortfall has been attributed to the failure of the 2016 short rains between the months of October and December. Hurdles Climate change is one of the biggest challenges tea producers are facing at the moment, with erratic rainfalls, occurrence of frost and increasing temperatures all affecting the quality and quantity of yields. The amount of rainfall a tea plantation receives is crucial since tea is a moisture heavy crop. Prolonged dry periods can lead to a complete wipe out of a respective year’s crop. Conversely, periods of very heavy rainfall can lead to water stagnation which is equally detrimental to tea plantations. Tea producer’s vulnerability to climate change may be exacerbated in the future if nothing is done to mitigate the frequency and intensity of the changes. Thankfully, there are stakeholders such as the Kenya Tea Growers Association (KTGA) who are working tirelessly to mitigate and solve challenges faced by tea producers. KTGA, through its members focuses on research and development of improved clones and appropriate crop husbandry technologies for improvement of yield and quality of tea produced. World standards With tea being such an important component of Kenya’s economy, as a country, we cannot afford to fall behind world standards, in terms of quality or output. It is with in mind that producers
FEATURE: THE TEA INDUSTRY have to be innovative in their growing, harvesting and manufacturing regimes. Embracing technology enables Kenyan tea farmers to remain competitive. Tea prices have remained almost stagnant over the last ten years while production costs increase. Hikes in cost of every other essential input including fertilizer, energy, transport, labour and warehousing are reducing earnings and holding back investments. Tea producers cannot neglect quality as only good quality teas are competitive. Since producers cannot set prices, they can only work at reducing costs. With labour being the single most expensive component of production, tea producers need to adapt to avoid going out of business. The cost of labour has been squeezing margins and life out of tea production forcing tea producers to map out new strategies on ways they can remain operational and still be competitive.Employees expect wages to keep pace with inflation, which cannot be achieved if we continue to do things the same way they have always been done. Productivity has to increase and even as producers modernise operations in order to achieve this, the large scale producers will always require thousands of employees. Plucking technologies, which collect almost twenty times more tea in a day than manual labour, have enabled tea farmers in other countries producing tea globally (whom Kenya has to compete with) to remain operational. Kenyan tea farms continue to employ and be a source of income for thousands of people. Working conditions in tea estates are still some of the best in the agricultural sector. Not only do employees get better pay, they also get
an array of benefits such as paid annual leave, free health care, nursery and primary education, free clean drinking water, electricity and housing. Kenya’s vision 2030 places agriculture as one of the pillars that will herald the country into the future. While providing most of the country’s food requirements, agriculture contributes more than 60 per cent of the total export earnings and about 45 per cent of government revenue. Tea production is the largest contributor in the agricultural sector.Agriculture is estimated to have a further indirect contribution of nearly 25 per cent of GDP through linkages with manufacturing, distribution, and other service related sectors. It directly inﬂuences the overall economic performance with periods of high economic growth coinciding with increased agricultural growth. It is imperative to preserve and protectKenya’s agriculture sector and especially tea. The tea industry isthe only export commodity crop that is still stable and surviving.With Black tea being the most preferred tea variety by the consumers due to its distinctive and diverse taste when consumed.The black tea segment will account for the major share of the tea market throughout the forecast period. Kenya’s teas are pesticide free, a competitive advantage that is yet to be exploited over many other tea-producing countries. This places Kenya at an enviable position because of the quality and quantity of tea we produce. Market research analysts at Technavio predict that the global tea market will grow steadily at a rate of more than 4% by 2021. This market research analysis identifies the growing use of tea in beauty and skin treatments on top of conventional consumption as one of the primary growth factors. For Kenya’s tea industry to survive and thrive it has to adapt to the changing trends of tea consumptions. Research indicates
that value addition in tea is key to growth. Consumers are excited by new experiences and discoveries. This includes the discovery of new and differentiated flavours, formats and occasions. Recent uptake in consumption of speciality teassuch as the green tea, purple tea and orthodox tea has been influenced by the numerous health benefits outlined. There is a demand for foods that are closer to their natural state. Consumers, especially in millennials, demand “less processed” food and drink, driving companies to remove artificial ingredients. This trend will also encourage consumers to reach foods in their most natural, original form, such as true teas or speciality teas for health benefits, instead of supplements and nutraceuticals. Tea is a natural, simple and whole food. Kenya needs to increase the marketing of its tea.The tea market is highlycompetitive. The market consists of numerous international and regional vendors who compete on factors such as price, quality, innovation, service, reputation, and distribution. The change in customer preferences and the economic and demographic conditions will influence which vendors will survive and thrive. Tea producers need to develop various business models, strategies, and action plans based on their target consumers.From product origins, histories and flavors, consumers are interested in the story behind the products, and tea has a great story. Kenya’s tea industry hasn’t always been leaf and buds, it has and continues to face numerous challenges. However just like the strength in our tea, the industry has faced and surmounted challenges that at times seemed crippling but with commitment and visionary stakeholders such as Kenya Tea Growers Association (KTGA) an association whose 17 members continue to strongly enhance, invest, protect and preserve our tea industry, we can hopefully continue to enjoy this cash crop for years to come. Kenya has come a long way in its first century as a tea producing nation. It is admirable how Kenya has managed to stamp its presence in the tea world. Not only has it created an entire industry from what was considered an ornament. Kenya has curved out a space in the tea world thanks to our quality of tea.
Which model of entrepreneurship teaching should East Africa adopt?
niversities must step up to the plate in promoting entrepreneur-ship to help diffuse the “ticking time bomb” that is youth unemployment in East Africa, estimated at between 40 and 60 per cent. The challenge is which model of entrenching entrepreneurship the region should adopt.Professor Peter Rosa, Makerere University Business School visiting don, recently delivered a public lecture on this subject at the Mount Kenya University (MKU) main campus in Thika. In a presentation titled, New Directions for Entrepreneurship Development and Education in East Africa, Prof Rosa explored the region’s unemployment challenge and analysed possible solutions to it. Focusing on the Kenyan situation with some reference to Uganda, he argued that the region’s universities had much to do to tackle the unemployment challenge. He noted that while Kenya had witnessed a rapid expansion of universities (now numbering more than 70), the large number of graduates who ended up jobless was a matter of grave concern. The visiting professor interpreted this to mean that as much as youths were generally positive towards entrepreneurship, given a choice, many would rather have a “good, secure job in a large organisation”.This, he said, was
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the result of the system of university education in East Africa. It is geared to match skills with careered jobs, not self-employment, he observed. He said for instance, that business schools in the region are generally geared to create management professionals and CEOs, not entrepreneurs. This is a paradox, the professor noted, in the sense that despite desiring
employment, youths tend to look up to prominent entrepreneurial millionaires as role models. Prof Rosa then went on to discuss three models that have been employed in different times to promote entrepreneurial culture in universities. One model, adopted in the 1980s to the 1990s, sought to create entrepreneurship centres attached to business schools.A model that dominated the late 1990s sought to embed entrepreneurship into core university degrees. The third model, which emerged in the 2000s and is still in use, promotes entrepreneurship and innovation systems that help to commercialise university science and research discoveries and inventions. All methods have advantages and disadvantages, but Prof Rosa’s overall observation is that: “The most prosperous countries are those that produce the most scientific innovations and richest self-made billionaires, and have ‘ecosystems’ and infrastructures capable of commercialising them.” Prof Rosa is also a George David Emeritus Professor of Entrepreneurship and Family Business, University of Edinburgh Business School.
FEATURE: MKU 1
1. Chief Justice David Maraga (left), chats with Abdirazak Mohamed, MKU School of Law student, at the Supreme Court in Nairobi. The Chief Justice had just admitted new advocates to the Bar, officially allowing them to practise law in the country.
2. Prof David Serem, Chairman, MKU University Council (left), exchanges performance contract documents with ViceChancellor Prof Stanley W. Waudo. 3. The Students Training for Entrepreneurial Promotion (STEP) programme opening
ceremony at MKU, Thika Campus on 29 January 2018. This programme sponsored by Leuphana University of Germany is set to benefit 200 MKU students. 4. MKU present a Ksh1 million cheque to Dr Betty Gikonyo of Karen Hospitalâ€™s Heart to Heart Foundation.
The money will enable sick and needy children to undergo open heart surgery. 5. MKU students give free health advice to delegates during the 2017 Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (KESSHA) conference held in Mombasa.
MKU lauded for its quality education
ount Kenya University (MKU) is doing a fabulous job of providing access to quality higher education. Rwanda High Commissioner to Kenya, Ambassador James Kimonyo, made this remark when he visited the university on 4 October 2017. He particularly appreciated MKU for training Rwandan citizens who are playing a critical role in helping the country to attain its Vision 2020 industrialisation dream. “Allow me to appreciate the MKU Management for the good work they are doing in providing access to quality higher education,” said Kimonyo. MKU Vice-Chancellor Prof Stanley Waudo assured the diplomat that the university was committed to providing requisite academic resources and applying best practices necessary for imparting and sustaining quality training. Kimonyo continued to emphasise MKU’s importance to human capital in Rwanda. “A private citizen who invests his resources in education deserves support and recognition. We appreciate the major investment that MKU has undertaken in Rwanda. We view the university’s infrastructure as our own because the training offered benefits the Rwandan citizens and helps the country achieve its desired human capital,” said Kimonyo. He was in Thika to check on students from Rwanda, and to also welcome those who had joined the university in September to study for various health
Rwanda High Commissioner to Kenya, His Excellency James Kimonyo (left), with Rwandan students studying pharmacy at Mount Kenya University, during a courtesy call.
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Rwanda High Commissioner to Kenya, His Excellency James Kimonyo (centre) with MKU Founder Chairman, Prof Simon N. Gicharu and Purity Kimwe, MKUSA Vice President.
courses. The diplomat had earlier visited MKU when it had hosted an international peace conference in Nairobi. He had been among the chief speakers. Vice-Chancellor Prof Waudo thanked the Rwanda Government for supporting the university as it progressively established a campus in Kigali. MKU Rwanda is set to become a fully-fledged autonomous university next year. “We have invested over Ksh2 billion or Rwandan Francs (RWF) 16 billion to develop the land we acquired at Kagarama in our efforts to see the university grow into an autonomous institution before
the end of 2018,” revealed Prof Simon Gicharu, MKU founder and chairman.. Prof Waudo thanked the Government of Rwanda and the line ministries “for their unwavering support that enabled the establishment of the MKU Kigali Campus”. He expressed hope that Rwanda’s government will sustain its support for MKU Rwanda. “Demand for relevant competencies and skills in the workplace are growing,” observed Prof Waudo. “Therefore, governments and other stakeholders, including regulatory bodies, demand that universities produce competent graduates.” He noted that MKU was, through its Graduate Enterprise Academy (GEA), training students to develop a mind-set change from job seeking to job creation. Kimonyo challenged Rwandan pharmacy students to learn as much as they could from GEA. This, he said, would enable them, upon completing their studies, “to venture into job creation through establishment of own pharmaceutical retail shops as well as other formal business opportunities that will create employment for themselves and many other persons in Rwanda”. There are 70 Rwandan students currently in the MKU Thika campus. This is the single largest group of international students enrolled in a particular faculty.
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AIR TRAVEL AND RELATED STUDIES CENTRE: SETTING STANDARDS IN TRAINING Air Travel and Related Studies Centre, a modern tertiary institution has positioned itself as a market leader in travel, hotel, tourism, languages and management studies both locally and internationally By Catherine Kuria
t is the dream of every Kenyan that after completing high school they will get the opportunity to join an institution of higher learning to pursue the career of their choice. Parents put a lot of faith on teachers to feed knowledge, skills and impact growth on their children. Over the years, we have seen private and public universities, tertiary colleges and vocational training institutions open in plenty to offer quality education and produce highly skilled graduates who are ready to enter the extremely competitive job market. But do they all offer quality education as most of their mission statements claim or are they after the dime? In 2017, 615,773 students sat for Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE). Only 70,073 managed to score C+ grade and above, hence earning a ticket to join public universities. The rest of the candidates were left to tertiary institutions or vocational training colleges. That demonstrates that the bigger percentage enrolls in private institutions. There have been numerous complaints from various employers that Kenya’s institutions of higher learning produce half baked graduates. Critics report that this has been as a result of many private colleges offering all manner of courses mushrooming. Is there some truth in this statement or is the education system in need of some serious changes? Tranquil Environment Located in the serene environment of Rhino Park Road in Karen, Air Travel and Related Studies Centre celebrates 25 years of academic excellence and prosperity offering courses in tourism, travel and hospitality. From a four-student classroom
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Mr. Charles Gakuo. MD and founder, Air Travel and Related Studies Centre.
to beautiful booming centre full of young minds from all walks of life thirsty for knowledge and skills, the institution has grown. “We managed to hold on to tides due to resilience, focus and motivation,” Mr. Charles Gakuu, the Managing Director (and founder) of Air Travel and Related Studies Centre narrates. What makes Air Travel and Related Studies Centre’s model unique? The institution has a long-standing reputation in providing courses in travel and tourism, cabin crew, airport operations, hotel management, food production and International Languages. They only offer those five courses since it’s easier to focus on less and make it the best that it can be. All the attention, passion, zeal and drive are focused in training students in those five fields to make them the best that there is not only in the country, but also in the international platform. “If you spread yourself too much, you will lose focus. Just concentrate on a few fields and better yourself in them to be the best that you can be,” Mr. Gakuu continues to narrate. Through channeling their energy on a few things, the management of Air Travel and Related Studies Centre is able to bring together like-minded students
who can live, study and grow together to become professionals in the hotel and tourism sector. “94.39% of our students pass in international exams that enable them to acquire internationally recognized certificates. I have trained generations of students for the past 25 years. I have seen them grow into successful individuals and some of them even bring their children to study here, where they studied too,” the humble, hospitable, jolly and charismatic Mr. Gakuo observes. The Managing Director rarely receives any indiscipline cases involving his students at the institution. Here is his secret : “I talk to students on a daily basis. When you talk to them as their brother or sister they will listen. I give them real life examples from our alumni. I even invite some of the alumni to come and talk to them. They bring them power point presentations that shape them.” Why choose Air Travel and Related Studies Centre? The college’s motto is setting ‘setting standards in training’. For sure, its standards are very high. It is the only hospitality college in Africa that is a member of the Premier Circle. The Premier Circle is an international set standard
Air Travel and Related Studies Centre-Karen.
that selects members on the basis of the quality they offer and their performance. It is also an authorized training centre by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Universal Federation of Travel Agents Association (UFTAA). Moreover, it is a member of the Kenya Association of Travel Agents (KATA), Worldwide Air Fares and Ticketing (WAFT), The East African Wildlife Society and Kenya Association of Tour Operators (KATO). It provides programmes that are certified by internationally recognized examination bodies like International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the Institute of Commercial Management (ICM) based in the United Kingdom. Over the years, the premier institution has received
internationally recognized awards. Despite offering premium services, the college charges each student kshs 1000 per day only - making it a total of 90,000 per semester. It has full boarding facilities in order to monitor the students and care for them 24 hours a day. Of vital importance, it has a well equipped and modern dining facility which serves students breakfast, 10:00 am tea, lunch, 4:00 pm tea and dinner. In the same breath, the management secures industrial attachment for students in Kenyaâ€™s leading 5-star hotels. Students are offered free computer lessons as they learn and two international languages of their choice free with each course. The languages range from Spanish,
French, Japanese, German, Chinese, Arabic, English and Italian. This is to enable them to have proficiency in four language skills; speaking, listening, reading and writing, thus increasing their employment opportunities through elimination of language barriers. The learning hours are conducive as they range from 07002000 hours. The college also offers extracurricular activities like sports which include swimming and basketball. The Culture The composition of students at the institution is quite diverse. Approximately 69% of them are Kenyans. The rest are from Eritrea, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Malawi, Djibouti and
Arabic lecturer of ATRSC giving students a career talk.
Mozambique. The school gives a 2 day free safari per semester to the students. This is an opportunity for them to grow, learn and explore the world. True to its rich brand heritage, the college is keen on improving the quality of its education daily, in order to meet the changing needs in the market. Its training programme is hands on and it inculcates an entrepreneurial culture among its students. “ We believe in producing all rounded students who can either secure formal jobs upon graduation, or start their own enterprises,” says Mr. Gakuo. WORDS OF WISDOM Mr. Charles Gakuo : MD “Learners are gifted differently and our education system should therefore embrace middle level colleges. Indeed, parents should support their children in whichever career path they choose instead of forcing them to take courses that they are not comfortable in.” Mr. Gitonga Muhengere : dean of students Mr. Gitonga Muhengere, the dean of students at Air Travel and Related Studies Centre has been with the institution for the past 19 years. The welcoming, kind and polite man is not one of many words. As an institution majoring with hospitality, tourism and related studies, he has seen it grow into the empire of quality and excellence that it is today. “My experience in dealing with students is a pleasant one. The institution instills discipline in them, besides teaching them to be resilient and to be go getters. We have produced and keep on producing quality graduates who will be trend setters in the job market.” TESTIMONIALS The dean of School of International Tourism and Travel Mr. Julius Mang’era has been with the college for over 11 years. He attests to the quality that the institution offers its students in that the value for their money can be seen through the outcome. He says that the school of tourism has been at the institution for the last 20 years and adds that they work closely with Qatar and Ethiopian Airlines. This has enabled them to secure industrial attachments for their students and some who end up being employed. “When students are new, they are keen. We nurture that keenness and make them realize the dreams they had before enrolling here. We provide attachments for students who successfully complete their 2-year course in the school of tourism. We give students an opportunity to interact with people from all walks of life even very important people. Units include: international travel
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Mr. Gitonga Muhengere, dean of students, ATRSC.
and tourism, international tour guiding and administration, international airline cabin crew duties and international air cargo management,” says Mr. Mangera. His advice to students is that they should shun mushrooming institutions that do not offer quality education. In the same token, they should venture into tourism since the industry has many employment opportunities. The pass mark for enrolment is a C- mean grade in KCSE and above. Arlette Uwayo Arlette Uwayo is a Rwandese student in the institution. She is pursuing a 2 year course in hotel management, hospitality and tourism and is currently on her first semester.”I am confident of realizing my dreams because of enrolling in this college,” says Arlette. “It offers efficient services, the
teachers are amazing and friendly, and I’m also learning Kiswahili which is an added advantage,” she says. According to her, the institution combines theory with practical lessons and students are given a lot of exposure through field trips and industrial attachment. Josephine Njeri Josephine Njeri was a cabin crew student at the institution. She is currently on industrial attachment at Kenya Aerotech at the JKIA which mainly works with Fly Emirates. “My experience was awesome. I learned a lot at the college and I can say it is the best because I am now putting that into practice. I interacted a lot with teachers, went for swimming lessons and also first aid training. I stand out among my fellow peers on attachment since the college provides
SKILLS DEVELOPMENT me with transport, accommodation in school and meals. I always go to work on time because of that arrangement,” narrates Josephine. Evans Kimani Evans Kimani is an alumnus of the institution. We met him while he had come back to the institution to give students a career talk on how to conquer personal responsibilities and how to be focused by sharing his story and career path. He joined the institution on July 1st 2013 and studied for three years. He was attached at Lake Naivasha Simba Lodge for 6 months. He later went to another restaurant at ABC Place in Westlands still as an intern. On the second month he got a promotion and was fully employed by the company. Evans is currently working at Movenpick Hotel and Residence, the biggest hotel in Nairobi County situated in Westlands. He says that the school instilled in him discipline, hard work and perseverance and that being patient is what made him stand out. “I didn’t want to lose my job and spoil the name of the institution. I had to positively
Evans Kimani, alumnus.
represent my school. My advice to students is to be patient, work hard and be humble,” says Evans. Linda Mburu could not contain her enthusiasm. She is an International cabin crew student and has been studying at the institution for the past one year. “The college is fine I can’t complain. It’s nice since we are offered two languages of our choice. Personally, I study Arabic and Spanish and I enjoy the swimming and first aid lessons,” narrates Linda. Faith Mwangi, head of administration, ATRSC.
Irene Gakwa Irene Gakwa is an alumnus of the institution. She cleared school in 2004 and has been in the job market for quite a while. “My experience was simply amazing. Lecturers are friendly and Mr. Gakuo knows every student by his or her name. The job market has been favourable and when I go for interviews, and they ask which institution I schooled at, the moment they hear Air Travel and Related Studies Centre they are just like wow. The college has a very good reputation in the hospitality industry because of its track record,” she says. Faith Mwangi The staff members are hospitable to the students and alumni. Faith Mwangi is the head of administration at Air Travel and Related Studies Centre. She says: “ATRSC is a centre of excellence in hospitality, travel and tourism. It is an institution that has built a strong brand. We have produced so many graduates over the past 25 years of training. Students walk in untrained and walk out as professionals ready to conquer the world. That’s a very big difference because we train them well and it’s nice to walk into an airline and find the cabin crew you trained working there.” She further adds that, “We orient students about our programmes and ensure that they pick the right careers. Orientation is key and the reason why we do it is because it helps students to make the right decisions about what they want to pursue. We have two schools: tourism and travel as well as hospitality. We want to make a name for ourselves hence we specialize in those two fields in order to produce quality and provide the best. We have highly qualified and experienced staff who are very friendly to the students. We do international accreditations for our student that is IATA and ICM which are internationally recognized. A course undertaken at Air Travel and Related Studies Centre is like no other. You walk in through that door and you won’t walk out the same again. “
NEW RICE GROWING TECHNIQUE PICKS PACE IN KENYA
System of Rice Intensification (SRI) is promising Kenyans more and quality yields
ost rice in Kenya is grown in irrigation schemes established by the Government. This method of rice farming in flooded paddies uses large volumes of water and results in poor yields. But in recent years, farmers are increasingly adopting a nonconventional method of planting that involves the use of little amount of water to irrigate farms. The method known as System of Rice Intensification (SRI), introduced in the country at Mwea Irrigation Scheme a few years ago, is picking pace in other rice growing areas like Ahero and Kano irrigation schemes. Why SRI? The System of Rice Intensification is a method of growing rice with little amount
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of water and using younger seedlings. The technique is less labour intensive compared to conventional method of rice farming. Contrary to tradition method where seedlings are grown in random, in SRI they are planted in rows. The system was first developed by Frenchman Henri de Laulanie in Madagascar but is now being adopted by other countries. Researchers from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), African Institute for Capacity Development (AICAD) and National Irrigation Board have endorsed the new method after studies showed the traditional method of growing rice in flooded paddies wastes water and results in poor yields. Professor Bancy Mati, a land and water management expert at JKUAT observes that SRI method offers farmers an opportunity to improve food security
through increased rice production, higher incomes, water saving as well as reduction of the national rice import bill. A farmer who turns to SRI can harvest 50% more rice than the one using traditional method which yields about 25% per acre. According to reports from the ministry of Agriculture Kenya spends more than Sh7 billion on importing 200,000 metric tonnes of rice every year. The report further indicates that countryâ€™s annual rice consumption stands at 240,000 metric tonnes, but domestic production fluctuates between 50,000 and 70,000 tonnes. This has been attributed to rapid urbanization and progressive change in eating habits. Since 2010, JKUAT has been supporting a programme on SRI research, training and extension work. National Irrigation board has funded the extension of SRI to Western Kenya including Mwea Irrigation Scheme.
How it works Under SRI, seedlings are transplanted when they are about 8 -14 days old to increase their tillering ability. However in conventional paddy systems transplanting is done after 21-30 days. Additionally, one seedling is planted per hole and not a handful. Transplanting is done in a square pattern and on wider spacing of about 25cm x 25cm to enhance sunlight absorption. After the start of the reproductive phase the paddy field is fully wetted to allow the plant to transfer maximum nutrients to the grains. Irrigation should be stopped 1-2 weeks before harvest to allow the plants to dry before harvesting. Weeding should be done preferably using a simple mechanical weeder. Since seeds are singularly planted, they tend to grow better because there is no competition with other plants. Prof Mati notes that a farmer using SRI can use less seed compared to conventional method of planting rice. For example, a hectare requires 7kg compared to 80kg per hectare in traditional method. Prof Mati is of the opinion that SRI may be a solution to poor rice production due to its high yields and quality. Consequently, farmers can sell their produce at competitive prices similar to their Asian counterparts. Indonesia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India are major countries giving cutthroat competition to Kenya’s rice production.
Faster maturity The main advantage of SRI is that it can be practiced on almost all types of soils. In Rwanda for instance, adoption of SRI has resulted in increased production despite most soils being sandy. Rice grown under the system matures faster and farmers can get up to seven tonnes per hectare. Rice grown through this technique is also heavier, weighing 1020 kg more per bag. It has harder grains which do not break during milling. Water management through this method breaks the mosquito breeding cycle since larvae die within two days of drying the paddy field, reducing the incidence of malaria. Occurrence of waterborne diseases such as Bilharzia is also reduced as well as parasites such as leeches. With climate change, increasing variability of rainfall, and the growing competition for water and land, SRI offers a new opportunity for increasing the production value per drop of water and for reducing agricultural water demand. Traditional rice farming attracts white birds that search for frogs and insects in wet paddies and in the process damage the transplanted seedlings. In the Western Kenya schemes such as Ahero and West Kano, cases of rice breakage at milling are a big problem. But after adopting SRI, cases of only 5 per cent breakage have been noted unlike in paddy rice where up to 60 per cent breakage is often reported.
Misconception among farmers However, the introduction of SRI was a challenging task since some farmers demanded written assurances from National Irrigation Board stipulating that it would be successful and be compensated if the technique failed. Some farmers often confuse SRI for Genetically Modified Organism (GMO). There has been a heated debate in Kenya that genetically modified foods can cause infertility and impairment in new-borns. These have made farmers to fear embracing the new method of growing rice. “At first, farmers were skeptical, but they are increasingly getting interested after seeing SRI’s success,” says professor Mati. Although weeds tend to flourish under SRI method, farmers are advised to weed 10 days after transplanting seedlings. This should be repeated two to three times every 10 to 12 days. Irrigation schemes that are now practicing SRI include: Mwea, Bunyala, Ahero, West Kano and South West Kano. By the end of 2012 over 4,000 farmers had ventured into the new technique of rice farming. Currently, 3000 acres is under rice grown through SRI in Mwea. Internationally, the system is being practiced in Vietnam, India, Pakistan and China countries that are leading rice exporters . Prof Mati intends to see more farmers adopt the new method if we are to compete with leading rice producers “With SRI farmers can cut their costs of production since there is a reduction in purchased inputs. This is an important consideration for cash-poor households,” Prof Mati observes.
RESEARCHERS BANK ON NEW RICE STRAIN TO BOOST PRODUCTION
Farmers working in a rice plantation.
s Kenya grapples with perennial food shortage, a new strain of rice might be the solution that will reverse the country’s fortunes in food production. Rice, considered as a staple food, has been hugely affected by extreme climatic conditions, leading to low yields. The crop is mainly produced through irrigation, but this has since been hindered by inadequate water supply following low rainfall and unpredictable weather patterns. The country produces only 110,000 tonnes of rice every year, much less than the 300,000 tonnes consumed annually, according to the Ministry of Agriculture. Consequently, a rice deficit in the country is filled by imports from Asian countries particularly Vietnam, Pakistan, Thailand and India. These countries have adopted large scale rice farming while leveraging on technology to foster production. In Vietnam for instance, the government has launched strategies of revitalizing rice production which includes developing rice varieties with high export value, adopting advanced crop management techniques, and more intensive use of machines and other technologies in rice farming. In Kenya though, a rapidly increasing population has worsened the situation. This, coupled with the fact that technology has not been fully utilized in rice production sees demand for the crucial grains simply outstrip supply. But researchers from the Kenya Agricultural Institute (KARI) in partnership
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with the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines have a technology based solution in form of a new strain of rice-the IR522. Researchers now believe that IR522 is the most effective breed of rice they have ever introduced in Kenya. IR522 reportedly uses almost 70% less water than most other varieties. Wycliff Nyanga’u, a water researcher from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology says the new variety requires less irrigation and has additional nutritional benefits. “IR522 has at least 40% more protein content than most Asian and African breeds of rice,” Nyang’au explains. Initially, agricultural stakeholders thought that Nerica 4, a rice breed funded by the African Development Bank, the Japanese government and the United Nations Development Programme, could help improve yields but the rice strain does not seem to be performing better than IR522. Bouyed by positive surveys showing that the country has the potential of growing rice in various areas such as the Coast Province, researchers are confident that the new strain of rice might trigger a rice farming revolution that will culminate in bountiful harvests throughout the country. Ouma Onyango from Moi University observes that with proper water harvesting and good farm practices, rice can do well in almost all areas of the country. These initiatives could prove crucial in increasing domestic rice production and
ease the country’s reliance on food imports. However, Nyang’au is quick to point out that there is still a long way to go before the initiatives bear results. “Rice production still lags behind demand, and with the current importation trends more needs to be done before we can be food secure.” Why the shortage? Nyang’au attributes the rapidly increasing demand for rice to urbanization and change in eating habits. While in olden day people used to eat traditional foods like cassava, today majority of them have turned to rice, maize and wheat produce. “There is unprecedented movement of people from rural to urban areas and the consequent change of eating habits. Majority of people in towns find rice the cheapest and easiest food to cook,” he shares. Urbanisation, coupled with a population explosion has given agriculture stakeholders a daunting task as they look for ways of up scaling rice production. To boost rice production, the National Irrigation Board is urging farmers to embrace technology as a way of increasing their yield. Other reasons blamed for the biting shortage of food include decreasing farmland as people convert arable land into commercial plots for construction. Nyang’au notes that the acreage that was being used to grow rice in the 90s has not been expanded.
BL KILIMO tea. They include Britain, Egypt, Sudan, Afghanistan and Pakistan, where political turmoil frequently affects purchases. Battered by falling prices, some farmers have begun selling their tea leaves to international companies like Unilever and George Williamson. A research commissioned by Centre for Research and Multinational Corporations reveals that multinational tea estates have continued to register high profits than smallholder farmers. This has been attributed to the high management fees charged by Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA). The report also faults long and inefficient supply chain and taxes imposed on smallscale tea farming. The report raises concerns that although KTDA and the multinational companies fetch similar prices at the world market, small scale farmers get lower payment than their tea estate counterparts. Private companies involved in tea production attain higher returns mainly because of limited number of players in the marketing chain and top notch business practices.
PLUNGE IN PRICES REMOVES SHINE ON SMALLHOLDER TEA FARMING
Smallholder farmers have been adversely affected by a drop in tea prices.
Seen as money spinner in the past, tea farming is quickly becoming unprofitable, due to fluctuating market prices and high cost of inputs
or the last ten years, Kenneth Too, a farmer in Bomet County has earned a livelihood from tea farming, but dropping fortunes of the tea sector might see him and other farmers abandoning the crop altogether. Too, a passionate farmer who ventured into tea farming in the 80’s quivers whenever he thinks of uprooting his 20 acres of tea bushes. It is easy to see why. He earns 50 percent less for each kilogramme of tea sold than he did 10 years ago. He contemplates joining hundreds of other tea farmers in the country who have uprooted their tea bushes to pave way for other money minting ventures. “Tea was a money minter in the early 80s and late 90s but the undertaking is not rewarding these days,” says Too, who was first a dairy farmer before switching to tea. There is growing fear among agriculture stakeholders that farmers may be forced to abandon tea for other businesses as prices continue to plunge. For instance,
many farmers in the North Rift are investing in eucalyptus trees which they consider to be more lucrative because of increased demand for wood products as tea prices fall in the world market. Some have turned to real estate. Most farmers find it uneconomical to continue maintaining the cash crop while the returns are low. Different ventures “I am thinking of shifting to vegetables and other crops or to dairy farming if things remain the same,” reveals the 40 year old farmer. But once uprooted, returning to tea is a time consuming process since a bush fully matures after seven years. To ensure small farmers don’t switch away from the cash crop or sell land for real estate, analysts now urge the government to introduce a more effective mechanism to cushion price swings and find new export markets for tea. Currently, 70 percent of tea output goes to five countries with a taste for Kenya’s black
Stiff competition Although long and inefficient supply chain has been cited as a major cause of price fluctuations in tea prices, heightened competition in tea producing countries has also played a role in determining market prices. In the recent past, there have been oversupplies of tea. This has been attributed to new entrants in tea production like Tanzania Rwanda, Iran and Uganda. The low market prices of tea have continued to negatively affect small-scale farmers. Too recalls in the 80’s when a farmer with an acre of tea plantation was the envy of his neighbours but today, a tea farmer does not have much to smile about. “It is normal to see a tea farmer who is not able to pay school fees for his children contrary to the days when prices for the cash crop were stable,” shares Too. The threat facing Too and others small holders, who produce about 60% of the country’s tea output is likely to affect the economy. Tea exports are one of Kenya’ biggest source of foreign exchange alongside flowers and other horticultural exports and generates $1.3 billion in 2013. In contrast, coffee exports earned $214 million in the same year. Too now urges the government to support small-scale tea farmers noting that tea is emerging to be the main driver of economic growth that has overtaken tourism following security threats and terror attacks that have continued to plague the country.
Farmers during a planting season.
FERTILIZER ORGANISATION SEEKS TO CURB COUNTERFEIT SEEDS AND FARM INPUTS
here are growing concerns over rampant counterfeit seeds and other agro-farm input in the country. In recent years, farmers have frequently fallen prey to unscrupulous dealers who pose as certified seed sellers. The upsurge in fake seeds and fertilizers has especially dealt a major blow to small scale farmers who have limited knowledge on how to deduce between fake and original products. Smallholder farming is the most affected and given that it provides the critical lifeline for many people in rural areas, its threat will directly have a ripple effect in the entire country. A survey carried out by Kenya Agricultural Research Institute reveals that four out of ten packets of seeds in the market contain
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fake seeds. The report also indicates that three quarter of Kenyan farmers have planted fake seeds at some point in their farming career. The research attributes this trend to a slump in food production in the country. Worrying trend Despite numerous efforts by the government and stakeholders to help in tackling the challenge, counterfeit farm inputs have continued to flood the market unabated. Fake dealers seem to defy every mechanism put in place to counter them, largely due to soaring demand of food products. It is a worrying trend that if untamed is likely to see food production diminish in the country. Some reports have even indicated that the menace has been exacerbated by
agro-dealers who knowingly supply grains to farmers instead of seeds, a claim that they vehemently deny. With counterfeits on the rise, farmers are bearing the heaviest brunt. Most of them have continued to record low yields despite heavily investing in agriculture. In some cases, they have been compelled to abandon farming and try other ventures. Simon Kimutai was a successful maize farmer in Bomet County. But in the past one year, he has seen a reversal of fortunes, suffering a sudden fall in production. He blames his woes on the proliferation of counterfeit feeds and other agro-inputs. â€œI used to have a bumper harvest in my 3 acre piece of land but nowadays I hardly get 10 bags of maize,â€? Kimutai laments. The story is similar for Leonard Mulwa, a poultry farmer in Mbooni. While he used to
BL KILIMO register a laying rate of as high as 80 per cent he has been registering 60 per cent for the last two years. “I have 200 layers but their egg production has not been consistent for the past six months, I am trying to change their feeds to see if the trend will change,” Mulwa says. Dr Millie Gadbois who is regional director of the International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC), says that some fake farm input such as fertilizers and seeds can have devastating impact not only on agriculture but also on human health. “Expired or diluted fertilizers may have poor action on crops leading to poor yields. Farmers who use fake products also incur higher cost of production and long term environmental degradation,” she says adding that fake animal feed may not contain all required nutrients. “Majority of farmers have resorted to using seeds carried forward from the previous seasons or traded informally for fear of purchasing counterfeits. Such seeds generally produce lower yields than genuine high yield hybrids,” explains Gadbois. She asserts that while there are some unscrupulous dealers, the high demand for cheaper high-end products by farmers has driven the vice higher hence making it a lucrative business. Gadbois notes that Counterfeit products are widely available in many countries in Africa. She observes that limited knowledge among farmers combined with inadequate government resources for inspection and enforcement of the law has made it nearly impossible to successfully prosecute offenders. “Counterfeits are usually imitations of another well known product with an intention of deceiving customers. Some counterfeit products are sold at prices equivalent to the genuine products, while others are extremely cheap,” Gadbois quips. The government estimates the fake seed market to be approximately 10,000 metric tonnes and that small scale farmers are the most affected. Although there are several specialized agencies tasked with curbing the problem including; Kenya Bureau of Standards, Pest Control Products Board and Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate, counterfeits still find their way to the market. Concerted efforts Agriculture experts say that combating the challenge needs a concerted relentless effort from all the stakeholders including the government, farmers and the private sector. Gadbois says that as one of the major players in agriculture, they have put in place
Farmers examine a maize plantation.
various interventions aimed at ensuring that farmers buy certified farm inputs. “We have launched various projects that include training for farmers and agrovets. We also link farmer groups to reputable local retailers,” she explains “Some of our projects also connect retailers to large suppliers for instance fertilizer and agrochemical distributors. They are all geared towards ensuring that farmers can easily obtain genuine products when needed.” A research conducted by Tegemeo Institute of Agriculture Policy and Development notes that sometimes farmers use counterfeit farm input because they hybrid ones are not readily available. The report urges certified seed companies and the government to hold regular field demonstrations and establish trial plots for various seeds. The study reveals that farmers use both formal and informal system to access seeds. It notes that while the informal system does not guarantee value of seeds purchased, lack of coordination in the market has enabled selling of counterfeits to thrive. Banking on technology In bid to tackle the escalating problem,
Gadbois urges for intensive and expansive use of technology. In Uganda for instance, she says they have invented a project where packs for original farm inputs come with a special scratch label. The buyer scratches the label to reveal its unique identification and sends a text message of the unique number to an answering service. Within seconds he receives an authentication message confirming the product is genuine. Apart from counterfeits, farmers also face a myriad of challenges including financial constraints to buy the right products and poor knowledge on the benefits of using high quality inputs. With increased awareness campaigns aimed at ensuring farmers buy original farm inputs, Gadbois is confident that it’s just a matter of time before the counterfeit challenge is tackled. “We need to sustain efforts to end the vice; it is normally not possible to see all defects during field inspection because testing is done in samples in laboratories,” she says. Gadbois advices farmers to buy seeds and other farm inputs from genuine dealers in sealed packages if they intend to reap handsomely from their farming businesses.
Bamboo plantation at Kitil farm.
IS BAMBOO FARMING THE NEW MONEY MINTING VENTURE? Before venturing into bamboo farming, John Njuguna had tried his hands on other agricultural activities including pig rearing but he suffered immense losses. Today he is a thriving bamboo farmer in Isinya
amboo farming might not be a popular venture in Kenya, but an organisation in Isinya, Kajiado district is seeking to help farmers embrace the undertaking in a special way. Kitil Farm has dedicated its vast land to growing bamboo trees. It holds trainings and workshops for farmers in a bid to popularize the activity. “Our farmers learn the whole process associated with bamboo production from land preparation to planting and harvesting,” begins John Njuguna, the chief executive of Kitil Farm. He says that before settling on bamboo,
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he had tried his hands on rabbit and pig farming that flopped terribly. In a quest for a rewarding activity, his neighbor urged him to try bamboo farming. He did and today, Njuguna says he has amassed fortune in millions. Regarded as the strongest and fastest growing woody plant, it is estimated that the current value of bamboo product is worth US$2 billion per year. The lion’s share is earned by Asian countries, whose bamboo-based industries span a vast range, from paper making to luxury flooring. Tolerant plant Njuguna says
multipurpose perennial crop that grows well even on poor, shallow soils and in harsh environments. “It survives under a wide range of ecological conditions and can be produced virtually in all parts of the country, including arid areas,” says Njuguna who believes that bamboo is the solution to Kenya’s environmental and economic woes. He says that they boast of selling bamboo plantlets and seedlings to any destination in the world. “We have millions of seedlings and we have the capacity to produce approximately 600,000 bamboo plantlets in only fourteen days. A plantlet becomes a fully grown
Harvested bamboo trees. seedling in three months with special care in our greenhouses,” shares Njuguna. As need for timber rises sharply, there have been concerns over illegal logging. Kenya has been categorized as one of the countries with limited forest cover of less than 2%. According to environmental experts, reckless cutting of trees is threatening the lives of animals and unique insects in forests. According to Njuguna the effective remedy is supporting the planting of bamboo. A small-scale farmer needs about 50 clumps to start the project. One then plants the bamboo seedlings at a spacing of 5 by 5 metres. Usually, 88 seedlings occupy an acre of land. They grow to about 1.2 centimeters in diameter, and 1.8 metres to three metres in height within four years. Money spinner With a single clump producing about 300 stems per year and valued at Sh. 200 each, Njuguna estimates that a farmer can make Ksh6 million from clumps. Bamboo stems mature in 3 yrs and survive for 8 years. They are over-mature and unsuitable for harvesting from 6 yrs onwards. He advises regular harvesting of bamboo to avoid congestion of the clump, resulting to deterioration of both quality and quantity of stems. Njuguna says that with the rates at which Kenya’s forests are depleted for domestic and industrial use, bamboo can assuage the environmental predicament. Huge benefits He reveals that Bamboo has enormous
benefits and has been adopted in several parts of Asia mainly because it takes a short period of time to mature. From putting food on your table, paper in your printer, a floor under your feet, furniture in your house and fence around your compound, bamboo has plenty of uses. In construction, bamboo can be used to build most sections of a house for example flooring where it provides a more flexible, smooth, bright and stable alternative to wood. It also has high resistance and insulation qualities. Bamboo leaves are also known to have medicinal value. The sap from bamboo shoot tips is used for brewing an alcoholic drink which has a taste similar to beer. Although a disease tolerant plant, the growth of bamboo can be hampered by weeds and other competing vegetation. It is important to control and arrest the growth of weeds around each bamboo clump. Failure to do so will invariably result in poor root and stem development in the young bamboos. An area within a radius of 24” (60cm) around each plant should be cleared of all weeds and competing vegetation before mulching is applied. To make bamboo flourish, pruning is recommended. “This can be done with sharp pruners, loppers or even a saw depending on how thick the culm is. Farmers should know that once any part of the bamboo is cut, it will not grow back. This characteristic allows the bamboo dimensions to be permanently controlled,” explains Njuguna.
Labour intensive However, bamboo harvesting remains the hardest task to farmers. The practice is labour intensive as it often takes 3 individuals to safely remove a single culm without damaging surrounding culms. It is recommended that individual bamboo culms are carefully selected and removed. This procedure helps maintain clump and sustains yield. Clear felling as a methodology of harvesting bamboo is unsuitable. Only mature culms that are 3 to 4 years old are removed. To extend the life of harvested bamboo stems, farmers are urged to use nonchemical and chemical methods for preservation. Njuguna offers that the market for bamboo is readily available. The products are sold through the internet and customers come from Kenya, Mali, South Africa, Zambia, Ghana and Tanzania. He is confident that in the near future, Kitil Farm will begin exporting bamboo to Europe and America in a move that will increase profitability. Njuguna encourages farmers to engage in bamboo farming disclosing that its benefits are mouth watering. Robert Aliyi, a farmer in Western Kenya who plants bamboo in greenhouses says that a single harvest can bring in millions of shillings. “I sell one bamboo at Ksh40 and in a month I can get orders of about 200,000 pieces. That means that I can make about Ksh8 million,” he says adding that bamboo seedlings cost around Ksh200 and are in high demand.
From Right, P&G’s East Africa Managing Director - Vivek Sunder, Magesvan Suranjan, President - P&G India, Middle East, Africa, Asia & Pacific regions and Faisal Sabzwari, Vice President – South & East Africa during P&G’s office opening in Nairobi.
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Published on Mar 8, 2018