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MARCH 2019


Africa's business magazine for the entrepreneur

INSIDE How technology could be used to enhance financial inclusion

Kenya’s start-ups feel the heat as affordable credit dries up

Why African youth need to embrace agriculture

Kenya could be Africa’s model of a cashless economy George Maina, C.E.O, Caritas Microfinance Bank.

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QUOTES.................................................................................8 BRIEFS •Coca-Cola beverages Africa, T3 and Petco launch innovation competition to help mitigate plastic waste management ..........................................................................9 • Unbanked People in Africa to Benefit from the Joint Venture between Paxful and Bitmart Exchange.................10 • DHL renews partnership with Africa’s largest e-commerce event................................................................................11


ENTREPRENEURSHIP WATCH •Steel Magnate who rose from humble beginnings ...........12 OPINION •Only a new educational orientation guarantees a place in the future workplace.........................................................14 TECHNOLOGY •How technology could be used to enhance financial inclusion..........................................................................16 MAIN STORY •Primed for Growth: The winning strategy of Caritas Microfinance Bank............................................................18 IMPACT STORIES


• Henry Kariuki: Real Estate Developer With a Big Dream. 26 •Elizabeth Nyaguthii: Green Grocer With a Midas Touch ...28 MAIN FEATURE •Kenya’s start-ups feel the heat as affordable credit dries up ...........................................................................................24 FEATURE •Paul Kinuthia: casual labourer who rose to become a seasoned industrialist.........................................................26 •Kenya could be Africa’s model of a cashless economy ......30 FARMING •New UN report reveals that hunger in Africa continues to rise ..................................................................................32 • Why African youth need to embrace agriculture .............33 • Reprieve for small scale tea farmers ..............................34



The Nelson Mandela 100 Years PAPU Commemorative Stamp Issue Release Date : 9th October 2018

5 | P. O. BOX 34567 G.P.O Nairobi, Kenya | Tel: 0719 072 600, Fax: 020 020 246156


Of organizations and entrepreneurs who are primed for growth Dear Readers,

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred with dust and sweat; who strives valiantly, who errs and may fall again and again, because there’s no effort without error or shortcoming.” -Theodore Roosevelt

What does it take to move from good to great? Stories abound of people and organizations that took a huge leap to greatness and achieved success. Of entrepreneurs who rose from the ashes to build impactful organizations worth a fortune. In Kenya, such people and organizations have never been in short supply. The March edition of Hustle East Africa magazine celebrates two of Kenya’s resilient entrepreneurs who’ve beaten great odds to build multimillion shilling businesses. They shared their secrets and business insights.

P.O BOX 12542-00400 NAIROBI

Also in this issue, read about how a local microfinance bank is impacting lives through innovative financial services.

CELL: +254 720 806488

Caritas Microfinance Bank was named the fastest growing microfinance bank in 2018 for a reason. We have the details.


A recent UN report revealed that millions of Africans are staring at starvation. Yet, agriculture seems to thrive in most parts of Africa. What could be the missing link? We have the answers.


We go the extra mile to make sure that you get only the best of entrepreneurship news, insights and analysis.

MONTHLY. Views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the publisher. ©2019 Elite Craft Ltd. All rights reserved. Material may be reproduced only by prior arrangement and with due acknowledgement to HUSTLE EAST AFRICA MAGAZINE.

Send us your thoughts on what you’d like to see in future. Happy reading! FB: hustle magazine Twitter: @hustlemag1


“The anti-money laundering laws are neccesary to protect the integrity of our financial sector.”

“Through this MOU we will work closely with the National Youth Service to ensure that the opportunities created for these graduates aid in achieving the country’s economic agenda.”

- Joshua Oigara, KCB Group managing director

- James Mworia, Centum chief executive officer

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“We’re reimagining our packaging to make it better for our planet and our business. We’re working to build better bottles because packaging shouldn’t harm our world.”

“The realities across the globe show us that the plastics recycling industry is set to grow to close to 6 billion Kenya shilling industry by 2023.”

- Daryl Wilson, Managing Director of Coca-Cola Beverages Africa in Kenya

- Joyce Waweru, PETCO Kenya Country Manager



Mohamed Elmi, CAS Ministry of Environment (center) chats with Kenya Association of Manufacturers Vice Chairman, Mucai Kunyiha and Gurpreet Kenth, CEO T3 ltd during the launch of beyond Bailing Innovation Challenge in Nairobi.


rash Thread Textile in conjunction with Coca-Cola Beverages Africa and PETCO have launched an innovation challenge that aims to provide innovative solutions to bale post-consumer PET plastic in order to ease their transportation for recycling and manufacturing. The competition dubbed Beyond Baling Innovation Challenge (BBIC) will target University students, Small and Medium Enterprises and the JuaKali sector to come up with solutions of baling PET plastic so as to properly manage them. “The Coca-Cola Company and its bottlers are leading the industry with a bold, ambitious goal: to help collect and recycle a bottle or can for every one we sell by 2030. We’re reimagining our packaging to make it better for our planet and our business. We’re working to build better bottles because packaging shouldn’t harm our world.” said Daryl Wilson, Managing Director of Coca-Cola Beverages Africa in

Kenya. “We’re also partnering with communities and industry to lead the drive for a World Without Waste. This is where our BBIC programme is key – we’re working to bring people together to help us collect and recycle a bottle or can for every one we sell. Regardless of where it comes from, we want every package to have more than one life.” Mr. Wilson added. The challenge will identify and award the best innovations to bale post-consumer PET plastic in Manual Baler, Renewable Energy Powered Baler and Grid Powered Baler categories. “PET plastic is bulky therefore a challenge to transport. Due to this, we need to compress and bale it. Instead of importing balers, we wish to tap into our abundant local resources to innovate local balers and encourage baler manufacturing in Kenya.” Said Gurpreet Kenth – CEO T3 Group. The competition targets to promote

and nurture innovations in Kenya which will enhance commercialization and generation of wealth, employment and youth entrepreneurship which is in line with the Big 4 Agenda. “That plastic waste is a challenge globally today is not in question, that there are opportunities that exist in the management of plastic waste has been contentious. However, the realities across the globe show us that the plastics recycling industry is set to grow to close to 6 billion Kenya shilling industry by 2023,” said Joyce Waweru PETCO Kenya Country Manager. In line with the national solid waste management strategy and national plastic recycling strategy, the competition seeks to collect and recycle postconsumer PET bottles across the country as it taps into the innovative technical space and establish partnerships for business development, awareness building and support recycling and manufacturing. HUSTLE EAST AFRICA


Hustle briefs


Unbanked People in Africa to Benefit from the Joint Venture between Paxful and Bitmart Exchange In a strategic move to enter the growing peer-topeer revolution, BitMart integrates Paxful onto the exchange


axful, a peer-to-peer Bitcoin marketplace, announced on February 21, 2019 at 9am, an integration onto BitMart, a premier global digital asset trading platform in the cryptocurrency market with over 600,000 users worldwide. This partnership comes at a pivotal time for the crypto community and serves as a step the two entities have taken together in the hopes of increasing liquidity and scalability. The integration will allow users to make payments via Paxful on the BitMart platform, marking the first efforts of the latter in joining the fast-growing peer-to-peer financial revolution. Paxful promotes a global peer-to-peer payment logistics platform for the future, allowing direct bitcoin transactions to be made from user to user, which eliminates the need for third-party interactions. With a focus on emerging markets and the unbanked, they provide a space for users to send, receive and store bitcoin. With this partnership, users will now have direct access to one of the world’s largest digital asset trading platforms, providing increased visibility and over 180 additional trading pairs. Furthermore, integrating Paxful positions BitMart as one of the only exchanges in the world entering the peerto-peer financial ecosystem, providing people with easier access to the entire financial world. Features such as zero-cost listing fees and monetarily-backed ratings give room for Paxful technology to serve a vital role in facilitating seamless and rapid transactions throughout the entire platform. This means traders can make globally scaled transactions to obtain bitcoin on Paxful, which can then be exchanged for different types of currency or even reinvested into other assets on the exchange.



“We’re excited to integrate with BitMart in efforts to bring more trading options to emerging markets,” said Ray Youssef, CEO and co-founder of Paxful. “It has always been our mission to provide financial freedom worldwide and we see this as the next big step in the financial revolution.” According to the World Bank’s Global Financial Inclusion database ( based on information from more than 140 countries: Two billion people worldwide are completely unbanked. 20% of unbanked adults receive wages or government transfers in cash. Women make up just over half (55%) of unbanked people worldwide. The proportion of people with bank accounts worldwide grew from 51% to

62% between 2011 and 2014. The goal of this integration is to provide education, opportunities, and allow the unbanked, underbanked, and overbanked to participate in a growing peer-to-peer financial ecosystem. “BitMart has always been a mission to offer convenient and secure financial services in the crypto market,” said said Sheldon Xia, Founder & CEO of BitMart,“An integration with a revolutionary company such as Paxful allows us to bring digital asset trading to those who would otherwise not have had the access. With this partnership, investors will now have direct access to multiple payment approaches including bank transfers, gift cards, debit/ credit cards, and cash deposits, lowering the barriers to entry for new adopters of digital currency investment.”


DHL renews partnership with Africa’s largest e-commerce event The eCommerce Africa Conference and Exhibition, delivered by DHL, is hosted by South African conferencing company, Kinetic


HL Express in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has announced that the company has once again signed on as lead sponsor for the 2019 DHL eCommerce Africa Conference and Exhibition, which will be held at the Cape Town International Convention Center on the 19thand 20thof March 2019. The eCommerce Africa Conference and Exhibition, delivered by DHL, is hosted by South African conferencing company, Kinetic, and is one of Africa’s biggest opportunities to bring stakeholders in the ecommerce sector together. Later in the year, Kinetic will also bring the conference to Kenya, with the eCommerce East Africa Edition, also delivered by DHL, set to take place in Nairobi on the 12thand 13th of June 2019. This year’s event offers participants an opportunity to learn from world-class thought leaders, both from Africa and the rest of the globe, on the innovative strategies that will unlock e-commerce opportunities over the years to come. Delegates from some of the continent’s biggest tech, retail, banking and legal firms will be in attendance to share their experience and engage with attendees to exchange knowledge. According to the McKinsey Global Institute’s report, Lions Go Digital, e-commerce and fintech represent two of Africa’s biggest growth opportunities, with the growth of the mobile technology market driving both of these sectors. “More than half of urban African consumers already have Internet-capable devices and this number is increasing. Online shopping in Africa could account for up to $75 billion in retail sales by 2025.” Steve Burd, Vice President Sales for DHL Express Sub-Saharan Africa, explains that the ongoing partnership between DHL and eCommerce Africa is a good fit. “As the market leaders in express logistics

Steve Burd, Vice President Sales, DHL Sub Saharan Africa. in Africa, we have extensive first-hand experience of the positive impact that ecommerce has on the continent. The massive growth in cross-border and international ecommerce in Africa sees DHL working with thousands more customers across the continent each year, helping them to expand their brand across borders.” He adds that the development of ecommerce in Africa continues to unlock major opportunities for growth. “E-commerce allows entrepreneurs and SMEs to connect with a large customer base and scale up rapidly, which accelerates the need for support services. E-commerce growth therefore has a ripple-effect on many other industries on the continent.” “DHL’s partnership with eCommerce Africa provides us with an additional platform to connect with organisations and help them to understand key logistics considerations, and learn how to plan for and overcome any logistical challenges,”

adds Burd. Terry Southam, Kinetic Managing Director, says that the collection of thought leaders and the topics under discussion this year are aimed at creating an immediate impact for African ecommerce companies. “From marketing to fulfilment, the world’s best will be on stage sharing best practice and innovative hacks to drive online growth. It is quite remarkable to have all of these industry leaders on the same stage – not only willing to share but actively working to grow the industry and ensure African customers receive a world-class online shopping experience. This year’s theme for the conference is ‘Conquering Scale’ and we couldn’t be happier to have a market leader like DHL on board, to help us deliver 2 key e-commerce events on the continent this year,” he concludes. HUSTLE EAST AFRICA





Steel Magnate who rose from humble beginnings

Mr. Narendra Raval, Chairman, Devki Group.

From a shopkeeper in the sprawling Gikomba market, Narendra Raval’s small hardware shop has snowballed into a building materials conglomerate with interests in cement, roofing products and power generation

By Amos Wachira


n corporate circles, he is simply known as ‘guru’, a title that connotes a religious teacher and spiritual guide in Hinduism. The title befits him. Narendra Raval comes from the priestly Brahmin caste of the Hindu religion. He’s a palm reader and an astrologer. But at Devki Steel Mills corporate offices in Ruiru, he’s more than that. He’s the founder and group chairman of Devki Group, the largest integrated construction solutions company in East and Central Africa. He’s also a philanthropist. When we met him at his office in Ruiru, he radiated an unsophisticated demeanor and a humble disposition. It’s not a surprise because he was a Hindu priest in his formative years. In corporate circles, he’s known as a resilient and never say die business person. In the boardroom, he’s the quintessential leader whose vision and tact has seen him build a thriving business empire with an estimated turnover of Kes21bn a year. Predictably, Guru draws lessons from his rich pot of humility and service to humanity to effectively and profitably run a steel and construction solutions behemoth. These qualities have allowed him to rise from a humble shopkeeper in Nairobi’s sprawling Gikomba market to a celebrated steel magnate.



The journey so far Born in Gujarat, India, young Raval started out as a temple assistant in a Swaminayarian temple in India, at a very young age. In 1978, he got an opportunity to travel to Kenya to work in a temple in Kisumu, earning a monthly stipend of $50. In 1982, he got married to a medical doctor and abandoned his priestly calling. “When you get married, you have to leave your priestly calling according to the Hindu religion,” he says. His entrepreneurial journey kicked off in earnest when his family settled in Nairobi’s Ngara suburb in 1984. Having failed to advance his studies due to lack of school fees, young Raval took up employment in a hardware shop in Nairobi. Raval worked hard and saved most of his income with an aim of starting his own hardware. In 1990, when his employers closed down the hardware shop, he stepped up and decided to dip his hands into business. “I used to walk from Ngara to Gikomba looking for the cheapest shop to rent,” he recalls. Soon enough, he got wind of a small workshop owned by a former member of parliament, Mr. Nduati Kariuki, going for Kes2500. “I had nothing in my pockets and raising the rent as well as the three months deposit was a tall order. However, I convinced the shop owner that I could pay him in a few months. He trusted my

word.” With a business premises, the next step was to stock the shop. He talked with steel manufacturers around the area who agreed to supply to him on credit, on condition that he pays after making sales. This was the start of Steel Center Limited, a small hardware shop that started as a storage facility before morphing into a thriving steel business. By 1992, it was turning a profit of Kes10000 a day. Interestingly, Raval had succeeded in creating trust with business associates in a way that allowed him to easily get supplies on credit. He recalls that at one point, he was able to get a pickup truck from a bank without placing the required deposit. The vehicle, which he paid for in instalments, helped him deliver goods to customers spread across the city. “My main aim was to help Kenyans put a roof on their heads,” he says, adding that he knows the pain of lacking shelter. After five years of toiling, with his wife chipping in to deliver goods to customers using the only company vehicle, he realized that the small hardware was struggling to meet the demand for goods. Making a difference Despite turning good profits, Raval had witnessed, first hand, the level of exploitation that was being meted out on customers by a monopolistic steel manufacturer. He decided to make a difference. In 1992, Devki Steel Mills opened its doors

to protect consumers from the jaws of ruthless steel merchants. True entrepreneurs are known for their ability to weather challenges on their way to establishing thriving enterprises that fill a gap, change lives, and turn a profit. Raval’s story epitomizes the true spirit of entrepreneurship; that of resilience, hard work, dedication and focus. He started from the trenches and fought his way to the top. Together with his wife who immediately joined him in business after their marriage, he has managed to inculcate the philosophy of honesty and integrity in his business. “Our foundation is based on giving true information to consumers as well as honoring our promises.” His breakthrough came when he started manufacturing steel and creating local jobs. “With a positive attitude, you can achieve a lot as an entrepreneur,” he says. This is the same mantra that drove him to look for cheap land in Athi River, 35 kilometres away from the capital, Nairobi. With his savings, he managed to buy 20 acres of land, each going for Kes50000. With the land, he needed capital to build the structures and install a steel mill, money he didn’t have. He recalls how he made many visits to a local bank to seek financing. In most instances, he ended up frustrated after failing to meet the manager. Not one to give up easily, he successfully managed to meet one of the bank managers with whom he shared his business idea. He was promptly given a loan of Kes300,000. Armed with the money and a big dream, he travelled to India to buy a steel mill, after which he started operations at his Athi River plant. However, he would realize later that getting into manufacturing wasn’t the smooth sail that he had envisaged. Severe price undercutting and cut throat competition almost forced him to close down his factory. “When materials came, I was cash strapped yet I had to sustain the business and pay the salaries of over 70 people working in the factory,” he recalls. “It was a tough moment. I remember talking to my employees and promising to pay them when the business thrived. All of them agreed to help me build the business,” he says of the company’s most trying moment. With the backing of his employees, he

renegotiated for another facility with his bank, and sooner than later, the steel mill was roaring to life. But tragedy would strike the firm later when one of its sections went down in flames. Thanks to insurance, he was able to get compensation, enabling him to kickstart his business. With cutthroat competition from the big boys, making it in this business was a difficult endeavour for new entrant. At one point, he was stuck with his manufactured goods as his competitors grossly undercut him. He says they wanted him to sell at a loss in their bid to technically kick him out of business. As fate would have it, the prices of steel improved massively in the next few months, moving from $300 to $600 per ton. He made a boatload of cash from his stock as his competitors bore the brunt of high cost of raw materials. Within months, Devki Steel Mills was growing in leaps and bounds. For their belief in his vision, all his founding employees were rewarded with better packages and most of them still work for the firm, more than 20 years later. Looking at he way he relates with

his staff, it’s no secret that Raval holds his employees dearly, referring to them as family. “For this reason, I have never witnessed a strike in my firm,” he says. Based in Ruiru and Athi River, Devki Group has interests in the manufacture of corrugated iron sheets, nails, barbed wire, and reinforced steel for construction. Its subsidiary, National Cement, manufactures the Simba brand of cement. The group’s flagship brands are Maisha Mabati, Simba Cement and Devki barbed wire. The firm has a license for geothermal power generation, making it East Africa’s only integrated roofing, fencing and construction solution provider. With Devki Mills Limited and National Cement Company in place, Devki Group is among the largest steel and cement companies in the country, employing over 4000 Kenyans directly. And the group of companies is expanding fast. With their steel and cement investment valued at $200mn, the firm is living up to its billing as a construction materials powerhouse in Kenya and beyond. Doing good “My religious beliefs have helped me




Snapshot • Raval was born in 1962 in Gujarat, India • First came to Kenya to serve as a priest in a Kisumu temple • Comes from the priestly Brahmin caste • Abandoned his priestly call when he married a medical doctor from Thika • Plays golf to unwind • Spends his weekends doing social work • Visits the temple often Mr. Narendra Raval. shape my business on the principles of giving than turning a profit,” says the qualified pilot who believes in making a difference in people’s lives. His firm has established a children’s orphanage in Athi River, as well as a school for the needy in Ruiru. He says that he has realized that any entrepreneur who helps humankind will always be successful as success is a byproduct of doing good. As the debate rages on whether entrepreneurs are born or made, Raval says that failing to go to school has never stopped anyone from becoming a successful entrepreneur. He holds a Diploma in engineering, which he achieved through correspondence as he could not afford to pay school fees. He also had to quit his university studies because of financial constraints. He says that his passion for philanthropy comes from experience, having slept hungry at one time in his life. The shrewd business person comes from a background of entrepreneurship, as his father was a successful cotton trader. But he knows the pitfalls that bedevil family businesses, which many a times, struggle to succeed the founder. For that reason, it’s easy to see why he has a working succession plan that ensures business continuity. Devki Group boasts of an eight member board



of directors drawn from various sectors of the economy. Raval, a father of three, doesn’t engage in the day-to-day running of the companies, but gets to the office by 8.30am. He spends most of his time in networking meetings. He depends on professionals who give him day-to-day reports on the business. Other than this, he’s inducting his son into the business. “My son has been working with the companies for five years now. Interestingly, he has no office yet. I want him to gain enough experience to earn his place in the group,” says Raval. In the meantime, his firm is setting its eyes on the next phase of growth, with the cement subsidiary expected to be the largest in East Africa in the next five years. He says that many businesses are falling for three reasons namely; taking more risk than their capacity, overborrowing, and failure to conduct the correct feasibility studies before developing and launching their products. He advises entrepreneurs to never get contented in business, but to always be hungry for new opportunities. “If you’re satisfied, you will remain a shopkeeper. You have to be hungry for opportunities if you want to transform into an entrepreneur,” he concludes.

• Likes to travel for business and for pilgrims • Likes to spend time with his family

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By Prof. Bitange Ndemo

Creativity and innovation are also deemed to be more important than financial resources, experience, time, and infrastructure




Only a new educational orientation guarantees a place in the future workplace


he famous Jewish victim of the Holocaust and author of The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank, wrote the following words: ‘’I don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains.’’ Although there are very few incidences that can be likened to the Holocaust, there is misery in poverty, crime and hopelessness that is a likely scenario in the days to come if we do not act now to prepare for a future workspace through creative education. As I reflect on what may happen, I am also encouraged that in the midst of misery, there could be beauty that still remains. What is certain is that technology is fast changing the idea of work and at the same time making most of what we consider to be work irrelevant. Jobs that require repetitive tasks are dying. More people will

be out of employment and more people will fall into poverty and crime. As bad as it sounds, we cannot protect such jobs any more. The planet we live in isn’t just for us. We must keep pace with the rest of the world or perish. As long as we live on planet earth, we must adopt to the changes or leapfrog and lead the world into the future jobs. What are these future jobs? The answer to this question lies in what Artificial Intelligence (AI) cannot do. There are many jobs that can never be taken over by machines in the foreseeable future. Most jobs, even the ones that will be automated, will require additional human qualities. These qualities include human creativity, empathy, morality, communication, planning and making strategic decisions or even creating music. They can

be classified into two broad areas - creativity and morality, and each can produce many jobs. CREATIVITY Perfecting these qualities, however, require some specialised training. For example, if you want to train future entrepreneurs, they must take such courses as creativity and innovation. Research has shown that training interventions in creativity and innovation is positively related to greater performance of enterprises. Creativity and innovation are also deemed to be more important than financial resources, experience, time, and infrastructure. The problem is that such courses are not too common in developing countries. While some countries have incorporated creative thinking in their educational systems from early childhood education to university, our system is largely characterised by rote learning and cramming to pass examinations. That perhaps explains why many small and medium enterprises (SMEs) do not seek to exploit an opportunity and are often replications that are never sustainable beyond four years from their start. As we haphazardly implement the new system of education that has been described as competency-based education, we emphasise the knowledge

that will make graduates employable or independent enough to take risk and start businesses that have a greater value proposition to sustain them long enough to employ other young people. From the time missionaries arrived in Africa, creativity in Africa was discouraged through the educational systems that did not allow any form of questioning. That system has remained in force until today. ‘’Authoritarian teaching did not encourage creativity, questioning or deviation from the norm, and has had a devastating impact on intellectual, artistic and practical creativity across the continent,’’ says Minette Mans in her 2013 article, ‘’Creative thinking in Africa: tensions through change.’’ Currently, sites of contestation lie in the demands of ‘new’ education. From the Kenyan experience, we still have to define what this new education should be. More than fifty years since most African countries gained independence, we are still in the colonial yolk as new technologies devastate the employment space. For maximum creative development, we need nothing short of a revolution but first we must separate church and state on matters education. In Kenya and Ghana the church is pushing to regain control of what used to be missionary schools. This will be bad for the future since the religious dogma could perhaps be worse than the colonist control of education.

MORALITY Morality, the other key aspect to change, is entangled between religion and traditional norms. Until we understand that morality is not the same thing as faith, we shall continue to violate the principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong, or good and bad behaviour. The confusion explains why many religious people fail to understand their moral obligations (conscientious duty or ethical motives) with respect to governance. The political class must make a conscious decision to emancipate educational system from what it is today to something that builds an independent-minded human being with the capacity to create and conscientiously support others. We must carefully study the remaining beauty and perfect it to produce a lot more jobs, not just within the country, but across the world, and also seek opportunities to create new enterprises that are sustainable to create more jobs and ethical wealth. Our destiny is in our hands. We can avoid misery in the future if we do the right thing now. That thing begins with changing the limiting education system we have at the moment to a more creative system that can enable morality to thrive. The writer is an associate professor at University of Nairobi’s School of Business.





How technology could be used to enhance financial inclusion By EY


he statistics are scary. One-fifth of the world’s population is unbanked. Historically, it hasn’t been economically viable to provide financial services for these individuals, as they didn’t meet the minimum profitable threshold for most financial institutions. A number of reasons have combined to produce this situation, not just in developing economies but also in developed ones such as the US and UK. The introduction of new technologies has the potential to lower the cost of overcoming the hurdles that stop people entering the banking world be they geographic or regulatory inaccessibility, product mismatch, or a lack of trust transforming the formerly unbanked into valued members of the formal economy and supporting economic growth for all. Emerging markets are already embracing innovative technology and developing policy to increase financial inclusion. This is no surprise when you consider the estimated US$200 billion opportunity they represent. But the individuals classed as unbanked don’t all share the same situation. Some lack access to banking institutions, while others simply have needs that existing products don’t address. Even given a conducive environment, banks operating in these markets need to tailor their existing offerings to successfully achieve profitable financial inclusion. One problem is onboarding people who have never had access to banks or credit. How do you get them to trust banks with their money, and vice versa? Banks are now able to offer emerging markets innovative solutions, such as PNB MetLife Insurance’s JKB Family Protection Savings Bank Account that bundles low-cost insurance protection with the benefits of a savings account. The bank expects this product to generate new business prospects of up to US$2 billion and foster trust among customers, many of whom will use credit products in the future.



Channel innovation is also key. Digital channels can provide greater convenience for customers as well as lowering the cost for banks, and have been instrumental in helping providers overcome challenges related to infrastructure and geography. In Kenya, Musoni, a digital microfinance institution, uses a mobile platform to disburse loans within 72 hours and collect payments. In Bangladesh, the payment company bKash allows people to exchange hard currency for e-money through a network of community-based agents. This can then be used to transfer money to others, receive money, and buy mobile airtime. Effective financial inclusion will likely require a-bricks-and-clicks-distribution model, including physical branch presences to build trust and confidence, perhaps supplemented by agents (such as post offices and supermarkets). This may take a nontraditional form, such as Bank Rakyat’s floating bank branches allow inhabitants of Indonesia’s remote islands to access financial services. The bank has even gone so far as to launch its own satellite, BRIsat, to provide reliable connectivity and reduce operating costs. Technology is also allowing financial institutions to overcome the lack of credit histories in many of these emerging markets. Many financially excluded individuals

don’t have the financial track record that banks traditionally rely on to support lending decisions, nor do they necessarily have formal proof of identification. Pioneers in this space are developing new underwriting and credit scoring analytics for individuals and businesses to assess lending risk. In Mexico, the lending platform Konfio measures creditworthiness of potential business clients through a proprietary algorithm. By looking at cash flow and willingness to repay through analyzing the online application, social data, e-commerce platforms, and other data sources, they are able to create a credit rating for business that would be previously be turned away. In China, the agriculture fintech company Nongfenqi does the same through conversations with customers’ business partners, customers, and fellow villagers. These new ways to calculate risk save financial institutions money while allowing them to expand their customer base significantly. There has never been a better time for banks to seek revenue growth through financial inclusion, as the room for growth

is broad. Banks that seize the opportunity opened up by new, cheaper, technology will be well positioned to capture market share and play a lucrative and transformative role in the growth of emerging markets. EY’s FinTech Adoption Index indicated that 69% and 52% of the digitally active in China and India respectively are FinTech users. These new entrants have already gained significant market traction in emerging markets from their ability to tap into tech-literate but financially underserved populations. Incumbent banks that don’t start targeting this customer segment will find the FinTechs and digital disruptors swiftly stepping up and owning the space.





George Maina, C.E.O, Caritas Microfinance bank.

Primed for Growth The winning strategy of Caritas Microfinance Bank

Caritas MFB staff members pose with trophies after scooping several industry awards. By Amos Wachira


aritas microfinance bank entered the market at the worst of times. A banking crisis was unfolding, small and mid tier banks were collapsing, and most customers were fleeing to large commercial banks. Indeed, the odds were stacked against small banks, and a new entrant like Caritas bank had a slim chance of performing well. George Maina, the founding chief executive of Caritas microfinance bank says the biggest challenge was to convince customers to bank with the new microlender. Despite the challenges, the church based bank opened its doors to its first customers in 2015. It was the 12th to be licenced by the Central Bank of Kenya. With the first branch at Cardinal Otunga plaza, Caritas Microfinance Bank’s go-tomarket strategy was to introduce a range of innovative products and services that

are anchored on technology. Dedication and excellent customer service helped the bank to keep its doors open. Three years later, their strategy has paid off. From the formative days when the founding CEO was the only member of staff, the staff complement has grown close to 100 people. Other than this, it has performed exemplary well in all key performance indicators. Maina says that the branch network has grown from one to six branches, spread across Nairobi and Kiambu counties. These are Cardinal Otunga Plaza, Cardinal Otunga Annex, Kawangware, Donholm, Thika and Karuri branches. “The bank’s assets grew from Kes100mn at inception to Kes1.3bn at the end of 2018,” shares Mr. Maina. Other than this, says the chief executive, the bank’s deposits moved from zero to over Kes1bn while its loan book grew from

zero to Kes800mn in outstanding loans. Furthermore, Caritas microfinance bank was named the fifth largest (in terms of market share) by the Central Bank of Kenya Looking at these milestones, it’s easy to see why the lender was recently feted as the fastest growing microfinance bank at the Think Business 2018 Banking Awards. This award was followed by three others, bringing the number of awards that the bank bagged in 2018 to four. The other three are; Best microfinance in the use of digital solutions and Best in e-services won during the 2nd Fina ncial Inclusion Awards, and Runners up; best in financial reporting for microfinance banks bagged at the Financial Reporting (FiRe) awards ceremony in Nairobi. “These awards affirm to our concerted efforts to continuously improve the customer journey,” says the CEO. He explains the secret behind the bank’s impressive performance. “We are HUSTLE EAST AFRICA



fortunate enough to have a dedicated staff and a supportive board of directors,” he says. The bank also leveraged technology from the beginning, a move that has borne fruits. “80% of our transactions are completed through mobile banking and other alternative delivery channels like internet and agency banking. Technology has helped us to attract and reach more customers,” he says. Maina also attributes the growth to the implementation of the law capping interest rates. This saw Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) borrowing from Microfinance Banks as a credit crunch sank in. As commercial banks avoided small businesses, Caritas microfinance bank welcomed them with open arms, significantly growing its customer base. When it comes to financial inclusion, microfinance banks play a significant role as they reach out to the unbanked and the underbanked population that has been ignored by mainstrean banks. Caritas microfinance bank’s mandate is to reach the unbanked and the underbanked, currently constituting 25% of the population. The bank provides innovative financial products and services tailored to meet the needs of all customers. Its diverse range of savings and loan products targets individuals, businesses, groups, churches and learning institutions. Although the bank is owned by the Catholic archdiocese of Nairobi, it caters for all customers regardless of their religious background. “We reach out to all customers, not just the Catholic faithful,” he says. The bank is deeply rooted in the Catholic church and traces its roots to the first Catholic sponsored Self Help group in Kiriko Parish, Gatundu. The self-help group was formed in 1983 to encourage

members to be self-reliant. Seeing the success of the group, other parishes adopted a similar concept. Maina says that as the number of groups rose, there was need for a microfinance bank that could cater for the needs of such groups, and this inspired the creation of Caritas microfinance bank. With this heritage, the microlender is positioning itself as the church microfinance bank. Its product offering includes savings and credit services tailored for churches and their clergy, a market segment that has been ignored by financial institutions for long. There’s no denying that the banking sector is increasingly embracing technology to impact its customers. The convergence of technology and banking industries promotes alternative delivery channels like agency and internet banking. To enable its customers have a nationwide access to their accounts, the bank has partnered with the Cooperative Bank of Kenya for ATM and point-ofsale (POS) services. Customers can withdraw cash at any Visa branded ATM or buy goods or services at any Visa branded outlet. Agency banking is another alternative channel that the bank is using to increase its footprint. “We envision having 200 agency outlets by the year 2020,” says the chief executive, adding that in two years, the bank plans to be a top three bank in terms of market share. As the bank embarks on its next phase of growth, it plans to pitch tent in other regions in the country, including Nyeri, Embu and Kakamega. It intends to expand its branch network to 12 branches by 2020, in line with its strategic plan. In the meantime, Mr. Maina says that the microlender will continue to positively impact its customers by providing products and services that meet their needs.

Mrs Sheila M’Mbijjewe, Central Bank deputy governor, and Archbishop John Cardinal Njue are flanked by the Caritas MFB team soon after the launch of Caritas Microfinance Bank.


At a Glance: • Mr. Maina has over two decades of experience in the microfinance industry. • To unwind, he likes hanging out with his family. • He’s involved in various church activities. • He’s passionate about empowerment of men. • He loves reading. • He’s currently reading “Church Shift,” a book on church leadership.



Henry Kariuki: Real Estate Developer With a Big Dream With Caritas microfinance bank, he believes he can build his dream, and a future By Jeff Korir


hen Henry Kariuki inherited a few rental houses from his father, he didn’t think much about it. After all, the houses were oneroomed temporary structures made of iron sheets. In the sprawling Kawangware estate, Kariuki’s estate, made of 60 ‘Mabati’ houses stood out like a sore thumb amidst rows of modern houses. The populous area is home to thousands of dmall scale traders who make the bulk of the population. While the demand for housing is high in the area, most people were moving to modern houses. This meant that Kariuki had to lower his rent to attract tenants. His rental income was so meagre that it barely met his needs. Stuck with little income and no

Structures before Caritas funding. means of developing his estate, he set out to seek financial help from banks. In 2010, a local bank helped him convert the Mabati houses into permanent structures. That marked the start of his successful journey as a real estate developer. With the high demand for modern houses, it didn’t take him long to realize that he was literally sitting on a gold mine. He wanted to develop his entire estate by building permanent houses. However, most financial institutions could only support him with small loans which barely made a difference. When Caritas Microfinance bank opened a branch in Kawangware, Kariuki was among the first customers to visit the branch. “As a Catholic faithful, I identified with

them and believed in their leadership,” he says. Last year, he joined the microlender and together with his wife,he opened a joint account. From there, he applied for a loan of Kes3mn which helped him to build 25 permanent houses. “They received me well. From the day I opened an account to the time I applied for the first loan, they walked with me, advised me, connected me to valuers and lawyers and made sure I was on the road to realizing my dream.” Having been financed by mainstream lenders, he says that Caritas microfinance bank stood out because they are caring. “The branch manager is always available. He came to my estate to evaluate the viability of my new project and said that the bank will walk with me,” he says. Asked how he manages to repay the loans on time, he says that he makes sacrifices on his lifestyle to keep up with the repayments. He manages the rentals as his wife is engaged in other businesses. He’s working on his current project that will see him build ten more permanent houses. So far, 20 of his houses are fully occupied while five are under construction. With a caring financial partner , he says he won’t stop dreaming. “The demand for houses is huge and people want quality ones. Even when I’m done with this project, I’m thinking of building storied houses to serve the residents as I grow my income.”

Structures after Caritas funding.






Elizabeth Nyaguthii: Green Grocer With a Midas Touch The visionary entrepreneur appreciates the role of banks in financing businesses

By Jeff Korir and Amos Wachira


hat started as a small venture has turned into a thriving enterprise for Elizabeth Nyaguthii, a Nairobi based entrepre-

neur. In Buruburu phase 2, Taliz Greengrocers is a thriving shop that’s well stocked with a variety of fruits and vegetables. For 12 years, it has been a household name in the Buruburu suburb. It’s known for its fresh farm produce. On a normal day, Taliz greengrocers is a beehive of activity. Tens of buyers are busy sampling fresh fruits and vegetables on offer as three workers help to sort and process their orders. Elizabeth started the groceries shop after she saw a need for fresh produce in the area. “I was always shopping for the freshest vegetables and fruits but it was a daunting task. Few people sold fresh produce that’s been sourced directly from the farm,” she says. That’s why when she opened her first shop in Buruburu phase 2, it was well received by locals who praised her for stocking fresh produce straight from the


farm. At that time, she was among the few vendors who were sourcing their vegetables directly from farmers. Most of her competitors were getting their produce from brokers. “I had the competitive edge and customers flocked to my shop. Even though I was sometimes forced to sell at slightly higher prices because of the transportation costs, customers were happy to get their supplies from my shop as they were certain of its quality.” Having tasted success with the first shop, Elizabeth set out to establish more shops in different residential areas. Like with any business, expansion is a capital-intensive affair. Over the years, she was able to set up two more shops, one in Buruburu and another in Nasra estate. Last year, she found the need to set up a new branch in Nasra estate, where one of her branches was performing well. Elizabeth soon found herself needing additional funds to scale. “I met the Caritas branch manager for Donholm branch. He analysed my business and saw potential,” she says. In September last year, she applied for a loan. Once it was disbursed, she used the money to set up her fourth shop. She praises the Caritas microfinance bank

team for their prompt services. Having worked with other banks before, she says that Caritas was different as it walks with its clients. “They are also caring. They walk with you in your entrepreneurial journey. This is not something you get from every other lender out there,” she says. She further says that the bank staff is always at hand to help, sometimes giving out soft loans when one is stuck. Given the prudent advice that she receives from her loan officers, she says she’s been able to repay her loans on time for the last seven months. “Financial discipline keeps me on track,” she adds. The four shops employ eight people. Elizabeth says that the business grew exponentially because she insists on quality. Like any other business, groceries shops have their fair share of challenges. Given the perishable nature of farm produce, she devised a way of having her contract farmers delivering some of the produce at the retail market in Matikiti, two times a week. “When I go to buy from their shambas, I strike a deal with them. As they deliver their excess produce to the market, they also deliver my order in bits to make sure I have fresh produce throughout the week.” Elizabeth says that price fluctuations is another challenge that she endures in her line of business. At times, she has to sell her produce on credit, and some customers take advantage of that to varnish without repaying. She says that getting quality workers is also a challenge. “Sometimes you wake up only to learn that your workers failed to show up. It destabilizes the business for a few days before you get a replacement.” Despite the challenges, she has managed to grow her business through sheer hard work and persistence. With consistent quality, her shops continue to grow. It’s this kind of growth that saw her husband, a pharmacist, quitting to join her in the groceries business. “My husband bought a pickup truck and was willing to help with the logistics. He drives to farms in Meru and other farflung areas to source for fresh vegetables and fruits.” With bright prospects, Elizabeth is keen on expanding her business even further. She has set her eyes on opening more branches in a number of estates within Nairobi. “I want to grow with Caritas microfinance bank.”



Kenya’s start-ups feel the heat as affordable credit dries up Seen as panacea for local entrepreneurs, interest rate caps are now throwing small businesses off-balance

By Amos Wachira


n Nairobi, home to all things innovation and micro, the small and medium enterprises ecosystem seems to have evolved over time to incorporate easy access to credit. The many innovation hubs dotting the city paint a picture of a vibrant start-up ecosystem where innovators, investors and venture capital funds co-exist blissfully. But away from these hubs, the reality of struggling start-ups with little to no access to capital plays out in the capital as well as in most parts of the country. In Africa, there is an infrastructure to help entrepreneurs build their businesses, but there are not enough success stories to write home about, says Vineet Rai, the founder of Aavishkaar-Intellecap group, a pioneer in provision of solutions that help build and scale profitable enterprises. His two outfits saw a gap in early stage start-up funding in Africa and sought to fill it by venturing into the continent in 2012. To the uninitiated, starting and running a small business in Kenya seems like an



easy task, until the need for more funds presents itself. Indeed, many entrepreneurs with brilliant ideas churn out new start-ups every month, but an acute challenge of funding targeting early stage businesses means that few succeed past the first two years. Others stagnate at the start-up stage for years as they lack funds to scale, ultimately throwing in the towel when the going gets tough. When these enterprises take a hit, the economy suffers. The industry, better known as the informal sector employs a huge number of people, turning the wheels of the economy. Yet lack of funds to sustain and grow a business continues to affect thousands of micro and small enterprises in Kenya. Mr. Rai explains that the problem is not lack of venture capitalists because there is a significant amount of funds flowing to slightly larger enterprises. Small enterprises find it difficult to get capital, he says. Intellecap and Aavishkaar have essentially been crowd sourcing entrepreneurs to show them off to investors.

Our goal is to search, sift, support and skill entrepreneurs, says Nisha Dutt, the chief executive officer at Intellecap. We work extensively with entrepreneurs to help them succeed and make an impact. Intellecap’s effort is just one among many initiatives been fronted by different stakeholders in a bid to support small businesses. The governments initiatives focus more on job creation for SMEs as well as easy access to credit. For a start, the Kenyan government runs a 30 per cent procurement policy that sees 30 per cent of all government tenders being given to special groups, comprising women, youth and people with disabilities. This affirmative measure has brought in some results, though analysts feel that small entrepreneurs are losing out to rich individuals and larger corporates as they lack enough capital to execute the tenders. This is backed by data from the Public Procurement Regulatory authority’s latest report shows that the special groups han-

dled 18.17 per cent of the 2017 half-year procurement budget of Kshs 208.3 billion. Though laudable, this falls short of the 30 per cent. The capping of interest rates presented an excellent opportunity for local small and medium enterprises to access affordable credit from banks. The noble move was seen as a panacea to the spiraling problem of high interest rates that was locking out most Kenyans from affordable credit. However, the initiative has yielded negative results as entrepreneurs are still finding it hard to access loans from banks. Interest rate caps have led to a shortage of funds just as price caps lead to shortage of sugar and other essential commodities, says X.N Iraki, an economics lecturer at the University of Nairobi. A new study conducted by Strathmore University and Invest in Africa shows that the rate caps have had a negative impact. It’s not a surprise to see that the Central Bank of Kenya is putting measures in place to scrap the caps on interest rates. The effect is a cash crunch for SMEs which rely on credit business. One such enterprise is Agri Mech Africa, a start-up that is setting up mechanization hubs across the country. Kenya has over

time faced problems attaining food security, and Agri Mech Africa provides a solution in the form of two-wheeled tractors to help farmers in far-flung rural areas access affordable farming equipment. But to achieve its sole goal of making farmers more productive, the small startup needs funds to the tune of Kshs50 mil-

lion to reach a bigger number of farmers. While Agri Mech Africa has the capacity to turn the tide for millions of small holder farmers in Africa, scaling it to sustainable levels is a daunting task for Pascal Kaumbutho, the founder. The agricultural engineer runs the ambitious outfit, which made a net loss of Kshs2 million in its first year of operation. “It is now harder to get credit from banks than it was a year ago, says Kaumbutho. He echoes the frustrations of many other entrepreneurs across the country. Kenya is an important place for entrepreneurship, says Vineet Rai. To bail out small entrepreneurs, something needs to be done to bridge the gap between them and credit. This explains why firms like Aavishkaar Intellecap Group is trying new kind of initiatives in emerging technologies, entrepreneurship skills and success to create a real impact on the ground. There is a very steep investment needed to see early stage start-ups grow, Mr. Rai observes. His firm has over 16 years of experience investing in early stage start-ups. The venture capitalist is building an entrepreneurship ecosystem in East Africa with an aim of accelerating the growth of start-ups. But before such an ecosystem starts to yield any results, local start-ups have to contend with the bad news; access to affordable credit is a bridge too far. HUSTLE EAST AFRICA




PAUL KINUTHIA: CASUAL LABOURER WHO ROSE TO BECOME A SEASONED INDUSTRIALIST From doing backbreaking work in various factories as a casual labourer in Nairobi, to hawking sweets in city commuter buses, hardworking entrepreneur beats odds to create a personal grooming products empire By Amos Wachira


hen he talks about entrepreneurship, the conviction in his words and the enthusiasm he radiates inspires listeners. He started from rock bottom. He has seen it all. Indeed, Paul Kinuthia’s entrepreneurship story is an exhilarating rag to riches classic. From doing backbreaking work in various factories as a casual labourer in Nairobi, to hawking sweets in city commuter buses, the unlikely entrepreneur never allowed his challenging situation to define his destiny. Instead, he went out to create his destiny, overcoming many odds on his remarkable journey to join a small clique of wealthy, successful entrepreneurs that Kenya has produced in the last two decades. When he hived off the health and beauty division of his company and sold it to French cosmetics giant LOreal a few years ago in a multibillion shilling deal, he captured the imagination of many aspiring entrepreneurs, proving beyond doubt that Kenyans entrepreneurs have the potential to create great enterprises worth a fortune. Today, Kinuthia, who founded Inter Consumer Products Limited in 1995 with a seed capital of only Kshs3000 never shies away from telling his incredible



story. Here is how he started. His journey started when he completed his O Level studies at Dagoretti High school. While he preferred to pursue a course in sales, his father had other ideas. Reasoning that technical courses could easily and quickly land his son a good job, he wanted him to enroll for a technician course at the National Youth Service. “I always saw myself as a salesman and a business person. That is why I told my

father to take me to Kenya Polytechnic for a course in sales,” recalls Kinuthia. Starting from the bottom His dream was however cut short when financial challenges made it hard for him to pursue tertiary education. While such realization could spell doom for many high school leavers, it fired up his ambition. I knew I was on my own. I had to take up any available casual jobs so I could educate myself even as I tried to eke out a living. Kinuthia knew he had to start from the bottom. Before long, he was working as a casual labourer at his aunties printing press in town. His lack of skills limited his chances of ever getting any other job save for casual labour. When he went to look for a better job at Coca Cola, the giant soft drink maker; he was given a job of repairing crates. Months later, Kinuthia found himself carting away coffee bags at the Kenya Planters Co operative Union, the national coffee miller, in yet another casual job. Even with the experience gained from his casual jobs, Kinuthia could only get more casual jobs, and his dream of ever getting a formal, permanent job seemed like it was just a pipe dream. When he found himself making ceiling boards out of waste paper at Tetra Pak, a packaging firm, he was not surprised. Casual labour was increasingly becoming his forte.

Inspired to be a salesman Seeing that his options were getting fewer by the day, the young decided to take up a diploma course in sales and marketing which would later become his ticket to entrepreneurship. From an early age, Kinuthia says that he was inspired by a family friend to become a salesperson. Growing up, he was always fascinated by the salesman who was supplying Cadburys products. Kinuthia used to envy the salesman so much that he made him his mentor. Most of the times, he could hop into his mentors vehicle for sales escapades, which always inspired his drive to become a salesman. I realized I had to go out and start meeting people. After TetraPak, I decided to hit the road, he says. And with the resolve to create a business out of his interactions with people, Kinuthia started out as a hawker, after he was inducted by a friend into the business of selling sweets in buses at the populous Bus Station in Nairobi’s downtown. When he told his friend who used to sell sweets that he wanted to be free, he was told that he could make more money as a hawker than he could ever make as a casual laborer. Cosmetics hawker “My friend encouraged me that I could persevere and survive and overcome all the challenges,” he says. Before long, Kinuthia had bought his first stock: Tropical Sweets which he sold for Kshs1 a piece. True to what he had been told, he was able to make a small profit. Not one to settle for less, he wanted to venture into the cosmetics business. He had seen how hawkers were making a killing selling cosmetics, though the sellers were unreliable and disorganized. He observed that most of the sellers were drunkards who could not waste any opportunity to imbibe in alcohol when they made a few sales. Seeing a gap, he delved into the cosmetic business. With his savings, he bought assorted lipsticks, nail polish and eye pencils and rushed to Kenya Bus Station where he sold his commodities. On that first day, Kinuthia made Kshs600 in profits, but what inspired him most was that the profits were more than a months salary at his former jobs. Clearly, he says, there was potential in his newfound business.

He vowed to market himself as a dedicated cosmetics hawker. Five months later, Kinuthia was no longer selling his stuff at the streets: He did door to door sales in a bid to make more money. ”I could get customers in the streets who did not have money. They could invite me to their offices where I could sell to them as well as their colleagues, making substantial amounts of money, he recalls his breakthrough, adding that he could sell more products in one hour than he could on the streets in a day. With business acumen and good customer service skills, Kinuthia was slowly making a name as a reliable and trusted cosmetics seller. Word of mouth referrals were bearing fruits. It did not take him long before customers started referring him to their boutiques and salons, an opportunity he took up with both hands. While salons made for good customers, they were asking for a different kind of product: Shampoo. Spotting opportunities has always been Kinuthia’s forte. He saw the high demand that was there for hair shampoos and decided to venture into this kind of business as a manufacturer, however small, than as a trader. “I started researching on how to manufacture it. I realized that manufacturing it was not hard,” he says. With a huge customer base which

trusted him, and the high demand for shampoos in the local market, he embarked on research at a leading chemical manufacturer. “I told them I have a product, they told me they had a recipe for the product. That is how I started my journey as a manufacturer.” He realized that he needed simple equipment like drums for mixing his ingredients, cooking stick for stirring the concoction, water and a source of heat. With a dream, the simple requirements and a will to succeed, Kinuthia convinced a friend who owned a yard in Nairobi’s Kirinyaga road to offer him an unused bathroom to enable him set up his business. He was given the space for free. Structured business On the first day, he made some shampoo which he carried home for testing. He gave out samples to his family members as well as to neighbours, who promptly tried out the product and confirmed it was good. The ambitious entrepreneur collected empty containers from salons and packaged his product. To distribute this product, he hired a hand cart which he loaded with 44 jerricans of five liters each. His shampoo was an instant hit. He sold the entire lot in less than 40 minutes, making a profit of Kshs2400. “I got the motivation to make and sell more shampoo after the first profits.” Days later, customers could ask for hair conditioners, and Kinuthia could make the products from his one-and- a-half square meters room in down town Kirinyaga road. Seeing bright prospects, he moved to a large room in the nearby Gikomba market where he fabricated machinery to enable fast production. It was at this point where he expanded his product line to include hair conditioners. He also structured his business, even as he hired more people to help him run the show. After hiring the services of a quality assurance officer in 1998 he started selling his products to supermarkets under the brand name, Nice N Lovely. Two years later, Kinuthia moved his company to industrial area where he rented a big godown to accommodate his growing business. Seeing how the business was growing fast, suppliers as well as banks could trust him with credit, which he aptly used to grow the business even further. HUSTLE EAST AFRICA


Business prowess “The business was growing so well that at some point, I could tell customers to pay in advance,” he reminisces. In 2005, Kinuthia increased his product range to include lotions. He also bought land along Mombasa Road where he set up the Nice N Lovely factory. He moved his entire business to the new premises two years later. Since then, the Nice N Lovely brand has grown in leaps and bounds to become a household name in Kenya and beyond. Kinuthia’s deal making prowess played out when his business attracted the eyes of French cosmetic giant L’Oreal in 2013. He sold the health division, earning billions of shillings in the process. How did he manage to grow a small idea into an empire? “In 1999, I made sure that the business was well structured. A friend helped me put up controls and corporate governance structures which allowed the business to run seamlessly even when I was not around.” The structures, he says, ensured traceability and transparency. Kinuthia attributes his business success to such structures, which gave him the discipline to save most of his profits and plough them back into growing the business. “Building structures in a business that had none



is a prudential business move. It makes the business run on its own. Since then, I have been able to delegate and trust people.” Interconsumer Products Limited has over the years won several awards in good governance, human resource management, shareholders growth, information, communication technology as well as in quality assurance. Today, Kinuthia is a serial entrepreneur, with interests in manufacturing, tea farming, and herb farming for export as well as in microfinance. His firm, Interconsumer Products Limited, employs over 300 people directly, with a further 1000 indirect beneficiaries. Though he sold Interbeauty products, the Nice and Lovely division of Interconsumer Products, he is still making his mark in the world of manufacturing. InterConsumer Products manufactures Bouncy diapers, All-time sanitary towels and a toilet paper branded, Mr. Fluffy. “Money comes second. You have to fill a need first and if people appreciate your effort and pay for it, you make money,” he advises. To succeed in business, he says, one ought to understand the business well, create a business model, have a strategy, hire the right people and give them adequate resources, mentor and train them. As a successful entrepreneur who started from the bottom, he knows a few things about entrepreneurship. “Young entrepreneurs should learn to set long term goals if they wish to build businesses that will live beyond them. They should not look at getting rich fast, but should be patient and should learn to respect money because it can disappear fast.” Local manufacturers face a myriad of challenges. From cheap imports that scuttle their businesses to heavy cost of doing business, manufacturers find it hard to succeed in such an environment. This explains why the manufacturing sector is steadily declining, despite its ability to create jobs for millions of people. Kinuthia agrees that more needs to be done to revive the sector. For him, some of the challenges he has faced before include lack of trust. He says that many people do not trust new businesses even when the founders have a clear vision and ambition. Frustration by the government is also a key challenge facing most local manufacturers. Vision 2030 for instance might not bear fruits. The country can only grow through industrialization but the government has opened doors for people to import goods that could easily be manufactured here. Despite the few challenges that he faces as a local manufacturer, Kinuthia is raring to grow his business to greater heights. I want the company to diversify more and contribute more to the economy through paying taxes, lowering capital flight, reducing imports and mentoring people, he concludes.

Paul Kinuthia At A Glance: • Married, with three children. (Three boys and one girl) • Likes spending time with family. • Enjoys playing golf. • Likes mentoring young people.






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Kenya could be Africa’s model of a cashless economy The unprecedented growth of mobile payments in Kenya could turn the country into Africa’s first cashless economy

By The Hustle East Africa team


frica has emerged as a formidable force in terms of cashless payments – just as the rest of the world leads the way in card based contactless systems. Africa now holds the top place for mobile payment usage worldwide, according to Gartner, the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company, counting for 52% of all global mobile money services. MPesa’s success has thrust Kenya to the top of this revolution. 32mn of 43mn Kenyans own or have access to a mobile phone, according to statistics released by telecommunications industry regula-



tor, Communication Authority. In 2015, Kenyans made 1.114 billion transactions valued at $27.7 billion (Kshs2.816 trillion) through M-Pesa, Kenya’s leading mobile money transfer service, according to Central Bank of Kenya. But while Kenya is a global leader in mobile payments, other regions are increasingly catching up, proving that a future without hard cash could be unfolding. Mobile payments on the rise Online payments made using mobile devices continue to rise globally. The 2015 report named Ayden Mobile Payments Index released by global payments technology company, Adyen

revealed that the USA market used mobile devices to make 26.7 per cent of all payments, translating to a 5 per cent growth of mobile payments in the six months preceding the survey. In Europe, the report further notes that mobile payments stood at 28.6 per cent over the same period. Another growth frontier, according to the Mobile Payments Index, was Asia, where 20 per cent of all payments made in the first quarter of 2015 were mobile based. Besides being a leader in mobile payments, Africa has also outpaced other continents in terms of ownership of mobile money accounts, if a recent World Bank Findex report is anything to go by. 12 per cent of adults in Sub Saharan Africa, Findex report shows, have a

mobile money account compared to the global average of 2 per cent. The Report also puts Kenya at a leading position in East Africa with a mobile money account ownership of 58 per cent. Tanzania and Uganda trail at 35 per cent each. “We proved that we can evolve into a cashless society when the M-Pesa concept started to be used widely,” says Professor. Bitange Ndemo, associate professor at the University of Nairobi School of business. He adds that cashless payments will continue to grow year on year, but credit education needs to be ramped up for any tangible benefits to be experienced, especially in Sub Saharan Africa. Kenya is also warming up to electronic cards payments, whose adoption is on an upward trend after years of stagnation. Use of cards, including credit, debit, prepaid, charge and ATMs has surged tremendously, thanks partly to concerted efforts by different players vouching for a cashless system. And Visa is one of these. Jabu Basopo, general manager for Visa in Southern and East Africa points to a burgeoning middle class in Africa, which is apparently driving the uptake of cards. “With rising consumer numbers, there will be a sharp increase in consumer spending and cards will be at the center of this,” says Basopo. Debit cards most popular In the meantime, Kenyan banks are increasingly joining the cashless bandwagon. Keen on capitalizing on the cashless revolution, a number of banks are replacing ATM cards with debit cards. Compared to ATM cards which are primarily used to withdraw cash from ATM Machines and point of sale machines, debit cards are known for their wider scope of use. For instance, with a debit card, one can easily pay bills in most commercial outlets, supermarkets and fuel stations, besides being able to access funds locally and internationally. In February, Central Bank of Kenya reported 10.2 million people with debit cards. Riding on this popularity of debit cards is Equity Bank, Kenya’s largest bank by number of customer accounts, which has so far partnered with American card firms MasterCard and American Express to issue out over five million debit and credit cards. The debit cards allow Equity customers, numbering to over seven million, to pay for goods and services using the cards without incurring more charges. For this

reason, debit cards remain the most popular in Kenya. Far from the popularity of cashless systems are the benefits that come with such systems that make them a better proposition than cash, experts say. Prof. Bitange Ndemo points out to reduced crimes such as fraud and theft, convenience, developing traceability of money and mitigation against corruption. He adds that cashless payments are cost effective in that there is no need to print currency. Hard currency resilient But interestingly, even though cashless payments are growing rapidly across the world, hard currency remains resilient, especially in developing countries where levels of poverty are high. In an ironical twist, people with ATM cards only use them to withdraw cash from cash dispensers, which they use as hard currency. This explains why a move by the government, banks and other stakeholders to introduce a cashless commuter system in 2014 in Kenya flopped. After a scramble by major banks to introduce cashlite systems in the form of Point of Sale (PoS) systems and NFC cards that allowed commuters to swipe to pay fares, the project, which was widely backed by the national government failed to kick off. Plans to kickstart the same in 2015 ended in epic failure, in what most players believed was lack of goodwill, poor implementation and lack of enforcement from various authorities. “Various implementing authorities failed to reinforce the noble move. There

were issues of lack of interoperability,” says Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore, whose firm had partnered with a bank to offer a cashlite debit cards. Elsewhere, local banks are leading the way in digital banking. Musoni Microfinance institution is one of the many financial institutions that are increasingly ditching brick and mortar models to reach the unbanked. Musoni prides itself to be Kenya’s first microfinance institution to go 100 per cent cashless, according to its former chief executive James Onyutta. At the same time, Kenyans are paying for their parking fees, and other city council fees like business permits and rental income using the mobile phone, a move that not only curbs corruption, but also increases efficiency. 35-year-old Danson Muchemi founded the multimillion electronic payment gateway, JamboPay, which processes about Kshs600 million every month for the City County. “Cash handling has always been a problem in the country. We decided to use technology to ensure that business entities do not handle cash,” he says. Technology is deeply entrenched in Kenya’s pillars of development, dubbed Vision 2030, which outlines the roadmap for the country’s transformation into a mid level economy. Prof. Ndemo explains what needs to be done to achieve the transition: “We need to educate people on credit so that they can begin to widely exploit the benefits of a cashless economy.” He adds that the diffusion of technology in Kenya is great but when technology is used to fight corruption, “it is fiercely fought.” HUSTLE EAST AFRICA




New UN report reveals that hunger in Africa continues to rise 237 million people affected in sub-Saharan Africa, straining global and continental hunger eradication efforts By The Hustle team


unger in Africa continues to rise after many years of decline, threatening the continent’s hunger eradication efforts to meet the Malabo Goals 2025 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly the Sustainable Development Goal 2 (SDG2). New data presented in the joint UN report, the Africa Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition indicates that 237 million people in sub-Saharan Africa are suffering from chronic undernutrition, derailing the gains made in the past years. The joint report by the Regional Office for Africa of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) was launched today in Addis Ababa at an event presided by FAO’s Deputy Director-General Climate and Natural Resources, Maria Helena Semedo. It shows that more people continue to suffer from undernourishment in Africa than in any other region - evidence suggests that in 2017, 20 percent of the African population was undernourished. “The worsening trend in Africa is due to difficult global economic and worsening environmental conditions and, in many countries, conflict and climate variability and extremes, sometimes combined. Economic growth slowed in 2016 due to weak commodity prices, in particular for oil and minerals. Food insecurity has worsened in countries affected by conflict, often exacerbated by drought or floods. For example, in Southern and Eastern Africa, many countries suffered from



drought,” FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa, Abebe Haile-Gabriel, and ECA Executive Secretary, Vera Songwe, said in their joint foreword of the report. Of the 257 million hungry people in Africa, 237 million are in sub-Saharan Africa and 20 million in Northern Africa. The annual UN report indicates that compared to 2015, there were an additional 34.5 million more undernourished people in Africa, of which 32.6 million in sub-Saharan Africa and 1.9 million in Northern Africa. Nearly half of the increase is due to the rise in the number of undernourished people in Western Africa, while another third is from Eastern Africa. At the regional level, the prevalence of stunting in children under five is falling, but only few countries are on track to meet the global nutrition target for stunting. The number of overweight children under five continues to rise and is particularly high in Northern and Southern Africa. According to the regional report, progress towards meeting the World Health Organization’s global nutrition targets is slow at the continental level. In many countries, notably in Eastern and Southern Africa, adverse climatic

conditions due to El Niño led to a decline in agricultural production and soaring staple food prices. The economic and climatic situation has improved in 2017, but some countries continue to be affected by drought or poor rainfall.

Key facts and figures • Number of hungry people in Africa: 257 million or 1 in every 5 people • Children under five affected by stunting (low height-for-age): 59 million (30.3 percent) • Children under five affected by wasting (low weight-for-height): 13.8 million (7.1 percent) • Children under five who are overweight (high weight-for-height): 9.7 million (5 percent) • Percentage of women of reproductive age affected by anaemia: 38 percent • Percentage of infants aged below 6 months who were exclusively breastfed: 43.5 percent • Percentage of adults who are obese: 11.8 percent


Why African youth need to embrace agriculture The countryside offers lots of opportunities for employment but suffers from a lack of attractiveness. By Linda Engel


he growing population of Africa needs food, but millions of young people are looking for jobs and future prospects. The countryside offers lots of opportunities for employment but suffers from a lack of attractiveness. It is the well-educated young Africans, in particular, that are leaving rural areas for the cities. A job in agriculture simply does not appeal to them. Nana Adjoa Sifa Amponsah, who founded an agricultural incubator in Ghana, is trying to attract them with a linguistic trick: She talks about “agribusiness” in order to convey the potential in this field of employment. In her eyes, political support is necessary to make agriculture more attractive. For example, the Kenyan government buys products from small farmers in order to supply prisons and public institutions. “People need to see that there are buyers for their products,” said Amponsah at a panel discussion of the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in Bonn.

According to BMZ division leader Gunther Beger, the future of humanity will be decided in the countryside. Most of the world’s hungry live there. Further, half a billion people in Africa will enter the workforce by 2030. His colleague Stefan Schmitz warned: “Throughout the world, rural areas have been neglected for far too long.” These regions now lack streets, electricity, schools, and hospitals. Businesses and well-educated people have therefore shied away from investing in rural areas. The panelists agreed that farmers need better access to financial services. Getting a loan for consumer goods such as a refrigerator or a television is not a problem. But when it comes to loans for agricultural endeavors, banks are often skeptical. Support for women is especially important. Halatou Dem from Mali had herself turned her back on her mother’s grain-processing business and went to work at a foundation before realising the necessity of agriculture. Today, she heads up the family business and employs more than 20 permanent women workers. As a young woman, she initially had many

problems in being taken seriously by male business partners, says Dem. Those days are behind her now. “In Ghana,” says Amponsah, “many women work in agriculture, but they are at the bottom of the income chain.” She wants to use her company to change this. Lutz Hartmann, who has managed an agricultural company in Ethiopia for the last three years and is a member of the board of the German-African Business Association, laments bureaucratic red tape. Even the smallest administrative procedures usually need to be taken care of in the capital city of Addis Ababa, which is an eight-hour car ride away. It is also difficult to find qualified office workers in the countryside. Well-educated people who leave the city for a job in the rural sector are the exception. One of them is Gabriel Litunya Akali from Kenya. Until recently, he worked in the flower-cutting industry in the capital city of Nairobi, but he now works as a consultant for farmers in the countryside. His wife, who is employed in the banking sector, still lives in Nairobi along with their two children, where the living conditions are better. He therefore commutes between city and country – at the family’s expense. The panel discussion of the BMZ was part of a three-day workshop called “Rural Future Lab. HUSTLE EAST AFRICA




Reprieve for small scale tea farmers Owing to the myriad challenges facing the tea sector, the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) has implemented programmes and initiatives to improve small-scale tea farming By Staff Writer


he tea industry plays a significant role in Kenya’s agriculture sector and the country’s economy in general. Tea accounts for about 11 percent of agriculture’s share of Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Additionally, it supports about 5 million people, di-



rectly and indirectly, making it one of the key sources of livelihood in the country. Kenya’s tea industry comprises large and small scale sectors. The latter has registered more than half a million growers across tea growing zones in different parts of the country. The task of managing small-scale holder lies with the KTDA. Of all tea produced in Kenya, KTDA members generate over 60 percent while the rest is

produced by large-scale farmers. Despite the major contribution made by smallholder tea farming, the sector has faced many challenges in the last few years. Mr. B. Bosire, the Corporate Affairs Officer at KTDA, says the agency’s mandate is to offer effective management services to the sector to facilitate efficient production, processing as well as marketing of high quality teas, and investing in related profitable ventures for the benefit of the shareholders and other stakeholders. Value Addition of Teas before Export “Value addition begins right from the farm by deploying internationally recommended Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs),” avers Mr. Bosire. They entail proper husbandry, application of recommended fertiliser, fine plucking, as well as speedy delivery to the factory in well-aerated lorries to maintain high-qual-

ity standards. The deployment of internationally recommended Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) at the factory is another value addition point. It entails strict adherence to Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points (HACCP), International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and Ethical Standards. Additionally, factory direct sales (FDS) sales have been increasing over the years. This has boosted sales through KETEPA, a subsidiary of KTDA. KTDA also owns Chain Trading Cooperative Limited in Mombasa that facilitates sale of tea blends. The company has introduced a brand of fully packeted tea known as Chai Gold. The tea is blended in Mombasa but packed in Dubai as it targets the international market. Further, the agency has introduced bespoke manufacturer for specific packing companies in Europe, Dubai, and Japan. Price Volatility In the last two years, the tea farming sector has experienced a raft of problems. Most critical is the fluctuating market prices attributable to the glut in the global market. Tea prices at the Mombasa auction reduced considerably in July, August and September 2013 due to huge supply in the international market. However, Mr. Bosire notes that prices have improved in recent months due to the recent drought that has reduced available teas. Tea cultivation is labour intensive. It includes field preparation, weeding, pruning and picking throughout the year. This leads to increased cost of production that is eventually reflected in low earnings. The high cost of farm inputs such as fertilisers has also reduced profits. The effects of climate change have become rampant, not only in Kenya, but the whole world. Climate hazards, which include hailstorms, floods, and prolonged drought result in destruction of the crop. The outcome is reduced quantity and quality of yields. The issue of declining farm sizes is another challenge experienced by some farmers. In most cases, they are expected to subdivide the land for their children, leading to reduced production.

“Capacity increased from 665,000kgs Gl in 1999 to 1.41 Mkgs Gl in 2014,” Mr. Bosire observes. The most evident achievement has been in the growth of factories from just 45 in 2000 to 66 in 2014, translating to 21 new factories in 14 years. Currently, two factories – Boito and Motigo – under region five are being constructed. Total payments to farmers have also been improved. Mr. Bosire highlighted that in 2013, farmers received Sh 57.30 per kg of green leaf compared to Sh 23.99 in 2001. Tea is highly perishable and needs quick transportation to processing factories. In this regard, the agency has invested in roads maintenance and fleet modernisation. KTDA has also introduced constant weight bags, which guarantee farmers real returns from their produce. The new bags, whose purpose is to transport green leaf, is an initiative of improving service delivery. “They have reduced conflicts concerning tare weight,” Mr. Bosire asserts. Additionally, the introduction of Electronic Weighing Solutions (EWS) has reduced conflicts that arise due to human errors. It has also curtailed weight falsification at the collection centre. The solution guarantees data accuracy by automating buying centre and factory weights. It has also removed the backlogs in records, long queues on delivery and heavy overheads of the former manual system. Automated fleet management enables vehicles to be tracked. This has improved service delivery as performance is monitored in real time. The agency has also adopted the mobile money platform technology used by farmers seeking finance from Greenland

Fedha. Promoting the Tea Industry The agency has put in place a range of programmes and initiatives intended to upscale tea production. To start with, it has Farmer Field Schools (FFSs) where farmers try out practically what they have learned and implement the same. FFSs bring together techniques and concepts that enable farmers to improve the sustainability of their crop yields. Mr. Bosire points out that KTDA campaigns for sustainable agriculture by encouraging farmers to farm in a responsible way while enhancing profitability, individual welfare, and environmental conservation. Farmers benefit from a fertiliser credit scheme where they receive the inputs on credit, and the money is recovered later from the bonus payment. This is beneficial particularly to some farmers who cannot afford to buy inputs at the time of planting. The introduction of better yielding tea clones is expected to boost productivity and improve quality. The unique shareholding structure has also ensured that farmers reap the full benefits of their investments. KTDA has helped to stabilise market prices by introducing a stabilisation fund for growers to cushion farmers against fluctuations. Mr. Bosire explains that initiating different market mechanisms would ensure tea farming reverts to its glorious levels of yesteryears. Climate change is another challenge that needs to be looked at urgently, with a view to securing mitigation and adaptation practices, as well as conservation of all water towers, especially Mau.

Milestones Through expansion of existing factories and construction of new ones, KTDA has boosted capacity. HUSTLE EAST AFRICA




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