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Major Breakthroughs for SMEs at the WTO Meeting in Nairobi.


Lean Energy Solutions reaps great rewards from taking great risks.

Where are the GES Goodies? Tracking the delivery of the GES promises and commitments

Chase Bank’s Pledge to Lend SMEs KShs 60 Billion Well on Track SMEs Win Big As Kenya Improves Business Environment SME DIGEST | 1

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CONTENTS Win Big as 6 SMEs Kenya Improves

Publisher Aquarius Media Ltd

Business Environment

Editorial Director Patrick Mwangi Marketing Manager Ann Kuria Editorial Team Editorial Cordinator Caleb Mutua


Writers Bernard Chege Samwel Ouma Rikkie Tumaini Wanjiru Kariuki

Where Are The GES Goodies?

Design and Layout Aquarius Media Ltd. Business Executive Faiza Wangari For all editorial/Marketing and Subscription inquiries please contact: The General Manager Aquarius Media PO Box 10668-00100, Nairobi, No.6 Kabiru Court, Daidai Road, South B, Tel: +254 20 553 510, Email: The editor welcomes comments on articles carried in this publication. Send your comments, questions and suggestions to All correspondence to the editor is assumed to be intended for publication. Aquarius Media Limited admits no liability for unsolicited articles or pictures. The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and not necessarily shared by Aquarius Media Limited.

13 Chase Bank’s Pledge to Lend SMEs KShs 60 Billion

Well on Track

Mobile Solutions for SMEs


Major Breakthroughs for SMEs at the WTO Meeting in Nairobi

15 Chase Bank, Safaricom Launch

26 Why Young Businesses Fail 27 Lean Energy Solutions Reaps Great Rewards from

Taking Great Risks

29 31

Kenya’s Top 100 Mid-Sized Companies in 2015

Book Your Hotel Anywhere from the Comfort of Your Home


WORD FROM THE PUBLISHER them to the next stage. The youth and women were big winners as organisations pledged training programmes for business skills, as well as mentorship. Six months down the line, most of these initiatives are yet to get off the ground. Indeed, anxious potential beneficiaries are being tossed from one office to another. The resources pledged have the potential of creating and growing thousands of small businesses into thriving companies, creating billions of shillings in wealth, and millions of jobs. These are opportunities that are going begging even as

Mr. Patrick Mwangi


he Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) and the World Trade Organisation’s 10th Ministerial Summit are two of the biggest extravaganzas to have taken place in Kenya in recent times. These two events, held in

events were a major boon for the country’s small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs). This was especially so with the GES, which was co-hosted by Presidents Barack Obama and Uhuru Kenyatta of USA and Kenya respectively.

Nairobi in July 2015 and December 2015, have catapaulted Kenya into pre-eminence in global positioning in Africa.

Literally billions of shillings were pledged by local and international financial institutions and venture capital funds to assist SMEs get the funding they need to move

More importantly, the two

SMEs struggle to raise cash to fund their businesses. We call on the organisers of the GES both from the American and Kenyan governments to be proactive in ensuring that the organisations that made pledges and the potential beneficiaries start meaningful engagement. A secretariat to provide liaison services between the two parties will be critical if the GES is not to end up as just another talking shop with big headlines. We commend Chase Bank for having followed through their pledges with actual provision of funding to businesses. We urge the other organisations that made these pledges to follow suit.

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SME NEWS Kenya is the most improved economy in Africa and third globally in terms of providing the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with a conducive environment to start and run a business, according to the World Bank’s 2016 Ease of Doing Business Index. The country jumped 28 places in the global investment competitiveness survey to beat Uganda, Tanzania, Ghana, Ethiopia, Egypt, India and Brazil among other nations. The survey takes a long range view on the regulatory quality and efficiency of an economy’s regulatory environment for business, by looking at how easy or difficult it is for SMEs to start and run a business. It evaluates 189 economies across the world.

SMEs Win Big as Kenya Improves Business Environment Kenya Most Improved Economy Globally- World Bank’s 2016 Ease of Doing Business Index. By Caleb Mutua


The survey looks at how convenient it is for SMEs in Kenya to start a business, deal with construction permits, get electricity, register property, get credit, protect minority investors, pay taxes, trade across borders, enforce contracts, resolve insolvency and labor market regulation, as key parameters of an economy’s ease of doing business. According to the index, Kenya stands at position 151 in the ranking of 189 economies on the ease of starting a business. “Kenya made starting a business easier by reducing the time it takes to assess and pay stamp duty. It also eased business start-up by reducing the time it takes to get the memorandum and articles of association stamped, merging the tax and value added tax registration procedures and digitizing records at the registrar,’’ reads the report. There are still areas for improvement. In dealing with construction permits

SME NEWS information by passing legislation that allows the sharing of positive information and by expanding borrower coverage, placing the country at position 28 in the ranking of 189 economies on the ease of getting credit. However, the report noted that the credit market changed drastically, with interest rates going as high as 27 per cent compared to 19 per cent at the beginning of the year.

to build a warehouse, for instance, Kenya stands at 149 in the ranking of 189 economies. “Kenya made dealing with construction permits more difficult by requiring an additional approval before issuance of the building permit, and by increasing the costs for both water and sewerage connections. Globally, Kenya stands at 127 in the ranking of 189 economies on the ease of getting electricity, a position attributed to reduced delays for new connections by enforcing service delivery timelines, and hiring contractors for meter installation.

In the tax parameter, Kenya made significant reforms by making tax payment faster for companies by enhancing electronic filing systems through the iTax system. However, Kenya made paying taxes more costly for companies by increasing employers’ social security contribution rate, and the administrative burden of paying taxes increased by requiring quarterly filing of payroll taxes.

Kenya made property transfers and registration faster by improving electronic document management at the land registry, and introducing a unified form for registration. As a result, the country stands at 115 in the ranking of 189 economies on the ease of registering property.

The survey also observed that Kenya implemented an electronic cargo tracking system linked to the Kenya Revenue Authority’s electronic data interchange system

Remarkably, the survey observed that Kenya improved access to credit

According to the index, Kenya stands at position 151 in the ranking of 189 economies on the ease of starting a business. for customs clearance, speeding up trade across borders. The report not only highlights the extent of regulatory obstacles to firms through the compilation of quantitative data for more than 40 sub indicators, but also identifies the source of business environment constraints. The data set covers 47 economies in Sub-Saharan Africa, 32 in Latin America and the Caribbean, 25 in East Asia and the Pacific, 25 in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, 20 in the Middle East and North Africa and 8 in South Asia, as well as 32 OECD highincome economies.

Key Highlights Indicator

Number of Procedures

Number of Days

Global position

Starting a Business




Construction Permit




Getting Electricity




Registering Property




Getting Credit


Protecting Minority Investors


Paying Taxes


Trading Across Boarders


Enforcing Contracts



Resolving Insolvency

4.5 years


Market Labour Regulations



Where are the GES Goodies?

Tracking the delivery of the GES promises and commitments With several high profile visits, global summits and a string of financial and mentorship commitments worth billions of shillings, 2015 will go down in history as one of the most promising years for Kenya’s entrepreneurs. These entrepreneurs are now looking towards governments, business leaders and donors to deliver on the pledges they made. By Caleb Mutua 8 | SME DIGEST


ome of the historic events that placed Kenya on the world map in 2015 include the visit by US President, Barrack Obama, during the sixth Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in July, the visit by the Head of Catholic Church, Pope Francis, during his African tour in November, and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Tenth Ministerial Conference (MC10) in December among others. Of all these events, however, GES had a major impact in the


US President Barrack Obama and President Uhuru Kenyatta interact with entrepreneurs during the opening ceremony of the sixth Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in Nairobi. PHOTO: SME Digest.

Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) sector, and in renewing the interests and confidence of international investors in the country. President Obama and President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya co-hosted the summit in Nairobi, bringing together about 1,000 outstanding entrepreneurs from more than 120 countries, business leaders, mentors, presidential entrepreneurship ambassadors, and over 200 exhibitors from different parts of the world. During the three-day summit, entrepreneurs got an opportunity to interact with more than 200 seasoned investors, top entrepreneurs and well-established business leaders hand-picked by the Obama administration. More importantly, a number of local and global firms announced multi-billion shilling deals targeted at financing and training entrepreneurs in Kenya and beyond.

“So today, we’re taking the next steps to partner with you. First, we’re offering entrepreneurs more start up capital. At last year’s Entrepreneurship Summit, we set a goal of generating US$1 billion in new investment for emerging entrepreneurs around the world, with half the money going to support women and young people. A few months ago, I challenged governments, companies, organizations and individuals to help us reach this target. Today, I am proud to announce that not only did we make our goal, we surpassed it. We’ve secured more than US$1 billion in new commitments from banks, foundations, philanthropists, all to support entrepreneurs like you,” announced President Obama during the opening of the sixth GES. Private sector companies around the world also made pledges of about US$700 million and promised to train and mentor over

1 million aspiring entrepreneurs. Chase Bank, for instance, pledged to lend SMEs KShs60 billion over the next three years. Equity Bank on the other hand closed a deal totaling KShs 53.1 billion with Overseas Private Investment Corporation (Sh20.2 billion), the African Development Bank (Sh15.1 billion), International Finance Corporation (Sh10.1 billion) and the European Investment Bank (Sh7.5 billion) to enable the bank lend SMEs at low interest rates. Accessing funds Five months down the line, however, information on how to access these funds remains scanty. Speaking at a meeting on Lessons from Global Entrepreneurship Summit organized by the Kenya Alliance of Residents Associations(KARA), the Kenya Investment Authority (KIA) Managing Director, Dr. Moses Ikiara, urged SMEs to sharpen SME DIGEST | 9


their tools and start to compete aggressively for the funds and the training opportunities available. “SMEs were the biggest winners of the GES, especially women and the youth. Almost every organization that announced a pledge said they were targeting small businesses. Women and the youth must consult, get the much needed technical advice and support on how to readily take advantage of these funds. Follow up aggressively. Talk to USAID and other agencies that were directly involved with the preparations of the GES to find out the current programmes being implemented and the requirements needed in order to benefit,” said Dr. Ikiara. Dr. Ikiara reiterated that there are a lot of exciting things happening in the country and SMEs cannot afford to relax and wait for opportunities to knock on their doors. “Now that SMEs know that funds are there, they must employ their creativity, start enterprises, and take advantage of the funds. There are also many training opportunities for thousands of entrepreneurs. Find out when these training will commence and what is required to enter the programme; no one has an excuse for not doing business, building their enterprises and growing already existing businesses.” USAID Agriculture Business and Energy Office Director, Mr. Mark Carrato, on his part 10 | SME DIGEST

Barrack Obama delivering his keynote address at the GES opening ceremony. PHOTO: SME DIGEST.

advised SMEs looking to benefit from the GES goodies to first go through the U.S. Investment in Entrepreneurship Fact Sheet released by the White House. The fact sheet details all the pledges made during the summit. “Some of these programmes are still being developed and there is no clear blueprint on how entrepreneurs can get involved in every single one of them. It is also going to take some digging as well on the part of the entrepreneurs. Once they know who promised what, SMEs can then utilize the internet to reach out to the specific organizations.” said Mr. Carrato. Going forward Policy analyst, entrepreneur and the CEO of Silver House Capital, Dr. Bob Ndubi, admits that there is a huge disconnect between the commitments that are made and the expected outcome. “We first have to appreciate

that these events are good for purposes of focusing the world’s attention on our country and for business. Nonetheless, we have to acknowledge that in a very strong sense, those defined as SMEs in this country have been pushed to the periphery. The people who have the ears of the bureaucrats or the presidency are members of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA). The members are the big boys in the industry and their challenges, as many as they may be, are not similar to those of an SME. Dr. Ndubi opined that the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI), which lobbies for the formulation of policies that support business development and for the repeal of those that adversely affect business operations, is what gives voice to the SMEs. The policy analyst and entrepreneur acknowledged the mandate of the Micro and Small Enterprise


Global Entrepreneurship Summit Background On 4th June, 2009, US President Barrack Obama delivered a historic speech titled A New Beginning’ in Cairo, Egypt, outlining his personal commitment to engagement with the Muslim world on mutual interests and respect. Reaching out to the Muslim world, Obama also elevated innovation and entrepreneurship in the U.S. engagement agenda. In 2010, he hosted the first GES at the White House. GES has expanded to become a preeminent global event, subsequently hosted by the governments of Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, and Morocco respectively. At the 2014 GES in Marrakesh, Morocco, the U.S. Government set a goal of sparking $1 billion (Kshs 100 billion) in new private investments over the next three years for entrepreneurs worldwide. In 2015, the summit was for the first time held in sub-Saharan Africain Nairobi, Kenya, buttressing the entrepreneurial dynamism of the continent.


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         



Authority (MSEA) but maintained that at the end of the day, business people should be able to also speak for themselves. “Henceforth, we need to ensure that KEPSA, as important as it is, comes under the umbrella of the Kenya National Chambers of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI), so that the Chambers can speak for both the big boys and the SMEs with one voice. That way, we will avoid cases of promises being made at the full glare of TV cameras, and as soon as the cameras are gone, people forget what they promised,” said Dr. Ndubi. Dr. Ikiara said that the interagency team that organized the meeting on Lessons from Global Entrepreneurship Summit will continue to track the impact of the GES to ensure that small businesses can reap big from the commitments made. “Let’s not be complacent as a nation now that we’ve got the stamp of approval from the high-profile visits and global events happening in Kenya and investors are arriving in droves. We must also fight corruption and other vices that are pulling us back.” 12 | SME DIGEST

Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2015 Key commitments • US President Barack Obama announced over Sh100 billion in new financial commitments for youth and women entrepreneurs across the world. • Chase Bank Kenya to lend over US$580 million (Kshs 58 billion) to SMEs, with a focus on youth and women. • Equity Bank on the other hand closed a KShs53.1 billion deal with Overseas Private Investment Corporation (KShs20.2 billion), the African Development Bank (KShs15.1 billion), International Finance Corporation (KShs10.1 billion) and the European Investment Bank (KShs7.5 billion) to enable the bank lend SMEs at very low interest rates. • OPIC financing of US$100 million (Kshs 10 billion) to help support financial institutions supporting women-owned SMEs worldwide. OPIC also announced a two year US$50 million (Kshs 5 billion) pilot program to support smaller earlier stage companies that generate positive social impact. • USAID to provide a US$25 million (Kshs 2.5 billion) as a debt fund focused on lending to social enterprises targeting the financial services, energy, and health sectors around the world, including sub-Saharan Africa. • Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) initiative to launch Africa-focused GIST TechConnect, GIST Startup Boot Camps, and GIST STEM Women’s Village Workshops to train, mentor, and connect over 10,000 young African science and technology entrepreneurs, with a focus on women, by July 2016. • African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP), Caterpillar Inc., Caterpillar Foundation, and StartUp Cup to open the third new Women’s Entrepreneurship Centers of Resources, Education, Access, and Training for Economic Empowerment (WECREATE), in Mali this year, in addition to the centers already open in Zambia and Kenya. The centers are expected to create 7,194 new jobs and 630 certified female mentors by October 2016. • Village Capital announced US$13.2 million (Kshs 1.3 billion) to support entrepreneurs at the critical seed-funding stage who are solving major problems in society. • The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation (TCCAF) pledged US$4.5 million (Kshs 4.5 billion) towards a new youth empowerment initiative that will provide life skills training, business skills training and access to employment and mentoring for 25,000 young Africans. • The Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) committed US$100 million (Kshs 10 billion) for programs to support entrepreneurs and the development of their local ecosystems. • The Mara Foundation pledged to empower 1 million youth and women entrepreneurs in East Africa through the Mara Mentor Platform.


he mid-tier lender committed to giving Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) the multi-billion loans over the next three years as a strategy to reach out to more entrepreneurs in the region, with a special focus on the youth and women-owned businesses that traditionally miss out on loans from commercial banks.

Chase Bank Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr Paul Njaga handing over a KSHs.5 million cheque to Shade Systems (EA) Director, Mr Eric Kinoti for the 2015 Entrepreneurs Boot Camp. PHOTO: CALEB IMAGES.

Chase Bank’s Pledge to lend SMEs KShs 60 Billion Well on Track Chase Bank is leading the way in delivering on commitments inked by private sector companies during the sixth Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in Nairobi in 2015. It has already disbursed KShs23 billion of the total KShs60 billion commitmentit made to small businesses. By Caleb Mutua

In an exclusive interview with the SME Digest,Chase Bank Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr Paul Njaga, confirmed that the bank had given the SME segment, ranging from informal businesses to registered companies, loans worth KShs23 billion by the end of November 2015. “This year alone (2015), we have disbursed around KShs23 billion to SMEs and we’ll probably take it to KShs25 billion by the end of 2015. The KShs60 billion commitment we made to SMEs was a bit more conservative and we are truly on course in getting that done,” explained Mr. Njaga. “We are talking to anyone running a business, big or small. We are also working with unregistered SMEs to also ensure that their businesses are corporatized.” Apart from having a network of over 50 branches countrywide,and through its subsidiary Rafiki Microfinance Bank, branches in different counties, Chase Bank is also leveraging on technology to disburse the funds faster and more efficiently. “SMEs wishing to access these funds can walk into any of these branches and apply for a loan. We are also very strong in innovation. SME DIGEST | 13


Chase Bank Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr Paul Njaga

SMEs can visit Chase Bank website and download application forms and open an account digitally so that we can immediately start a relationship with them. The important thing is to start and to engage and then we take it from there,” added Njaga. Shade Systems (EA) founder and director, Mr. Eric Kinoti is one of the SMEs who have directly benefited from Chase’s commitment to supporting youth and women to unlock their potentials. In December 2015, the bank sponsored Kinoti’s annual Entrepreneurs Boot Camp with KShs5 million. “We are delighted to be partnering with Eric Kinoti. However, our support for SMEs goes beyond sponsoring entrepreneurship events such as the SME Boot camp. We are taking it a step further by providing packaged solutions because we know money is not the only problem facing SMEs. We also appreciate and recognize that they need advisory services, mentorship and capacity building. But above all, small businesses require bespoke solutions that are relevant to their 14 | SME DIGEST

Shade Systems (EA) Director, Mr. Eric Kinoti during the press briefing. PHOTO: CALEB IMAGES.

specific businesses,” explained Mr. Njaga. Mr. Kinoti, who has been listed in the Forbes Top 30 under 30, Business Daily’s Top 40 under 40 and voted the Most Influential SME personality at the SOMA Awards (2014), partnered with Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Kenya to organize the 2nd Edition of the Entrepreneurs Boot Camp (EBC) dubbed the 2015 Mara Accelerator Boot Camp.“I am very thankful for this opportunity, especially for Chase Bank’s support for the SME Boot camp. This goes to show how much Chase Bank believes in entrepreneurs,” said Mr. Kinoti. Why SMEs Chase Bank, which started off as a corporate bank 20 years ago but quickly shifted its model to focus solely on SMEs, believes that real opportunity lies within the SME space. Incorporated in 1995, Chase Bank has won several banking awards, including the Fastest Growing Bank in Kenya (2009, 2010) and the Best SME Bank (2013).

“We place a keen focus on SMEs and the provision of innovative products for this ever growing market because we understand that big corporates have always had their banking needs addressed by banks traditionally, same thing with personal banking. For a very long time, however, the needs of small businesses have been neglected by the banking industry. Chase Bank saw the opportunity and optimized on it to work with entrepreneurs and owners of businesses to help them achieve their full potential. “For us, it is about the difference we’ve made in individual entrepreneurs’ businesses. Every day our customers come back to share with us their success stories, which keep us going strong and we intend to do much more,” said Mr. Njaga. Until recently, most commercial banks have been shying away from lending to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) because of the high risk involved. International Finance Corporation (IFC) estimates that in Kenya, MSMEs experience an annual credit gap of over US$6 billion. According to Mr. Njaga, Chase Bank takes this risk because it believes that the burgeoning sector is the future of any emerging economy. “The biggest problem affecting the youth is unemployment and therein lies a lot of untapped potential. If you think about the women and women-led institutions and enterprises you’ll see a lot of untapped potential. When this potential is unlocked there is a knock-on effect in a very positive way on the social economic

development of this country.” adds Mr. Njaga. More deals for businesses In August 2015, Chase Bank secured a trade insurance cover from the African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI) to provide its clients with a broader range of trade products with a specific focus on

invoice discounting. Two months later, Chase Bank, in partnership with International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the 10,000 women initiative by Goldman Sachs, received a credit line through the Women Entrepreneurs Opportunity Facility (WEOF), to disburse Sh2.5 billion to Kenyan women entrepreneurs.

In November 2015, Chase Bank, in partnership with Agence Française de Développement (AFD),signed a credit line valued at 10 Million Euros (approximately Ksh 1.12 Billion) to finance businesses that wish to invest in renewable energy technologies projects (small hydro, biomass, biogas, solar, geothermal) as well as energy efficiency measures.

Chase Bank, Safaricom Launch Mobile Solutions for SMEs By Samwel Ouma


hase Bank Kenya in partnership with telecoms operator, Safaricom, have launched a platform that allows businesses to pay and collect money from any till number, pay bill and banks for amounts of up to KShs 10 million.

of up to Sh3 million for businesses which pay and collects through it. All SMEs doing business with Chase Bank will be digitized, making monitoring and approval of loans quick and convenient, and dispensing with the normal bank loan formalities and documentation.

The platform, dubbed Mobile2Bank services, gives small and large businesses the opportunity to do business without physically being in banks to withdraw cash to make payments to third parties.

Safaricom’s Chief executive Officer, Mr Bob Collymore, reiterated their desire to transform lives using the M-PESA platform. ”Mobile money has been the most impactful positive disruption to the financial sector, and we are proud to be at the core of this development.Mobile2bank launch illustrates that we can do more through strategic partnerships like these” said Mr Collymore.

“This product demonstrates how innovation in the mobile space can be harnessed to address pin points in businesses, therefore enhancing their efficiency,” explained Chase Bank CEO Mr. Paul Njaga. The Chase Bank Mobile2Bank service will also allow Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to access instant credit Biashara loans

He noted that Safaricom was not in banking business, but simply had a desire to create convergence between banking and mobile. The service will be delivered on

Chase Bank mobile platform known as Mfukoni. Once customers open a Chase Bank account, they will be issued with a pay bill or lipa na M-pesa till. They will be required to download Mfukoni app or dial*275#, then issued with a four digit pin to their business dedicated phone to allow them simplify their banking. The service, which is tailored for business to business, will enable clients to make payments and collections directly to their accounts .M-PESA agents will also be able to move float between their tills and bank accounts faster, and send float to other agents accounts without having to visit a bank. It also offers businesses the ability to collect money paid using tills directly into their accounts at no extra cost, and it will extend their hours of banking business since it will operate even when bank doors close.



The August 7th Memorial Trust owns and manages the

Background: How it came to be

August 7th Memorial Park. The Trust is a Kenyan non-profit

On August 7th 1998, a group of terrorists used a car bomb to

organization established in 1999 to take ownership of land in

blow up the then United States Embassy located at the corner

Nairobi at the former site of US Embassy. The Trust’s mandate is “to be a centre of remembrance and peace-building.” All Board members are volunteers.

of Moi and Haile Selassie Avenues, causing the deaths of 218 innocent people and injuring thousands of others. Many of the victims were left with blinding injuries; others were left with only partial sight, caused by the millions of shards of glass that flew from the Embassy and surrounding buildings. So powerful

The Trustees main task is:

was the explosion that it could be heard as far away as Tigoni

1. To hold the land in trust for the benefit of the Kenyan

and Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, while the shock wave

Public. 2. To establish, develop, maintain and manage for the use of the public, a Memorial Park on the said land in memory and honour of the victims of the 7th August 1998 terrorist

was felt all over the city causing many buildings to tremble. As a result, a new Embassy was constructed on a heavily fortified site at Gigiri while ownership of the existing site was donated by the American and Kenyan people to a Trust charged with turning it into a memorial park as a tribute to the victims but

bomb attack which took the lives of 218 innocent people

also a place where the public would be educated about the

and injured several thousand others, many permanently.

futility of violence and the essence of peace. The construction of the park was made possible by donations in cash and kind

“The Trust was also set up with the object of fostering goodwill and peace among men with a view of preventing a repeat attack, and has set up a Visitors Memorial Peace Centre where school students and the public are taught the importance of living

by a number of individuals, companies and organizations, leading to its opening on 7th August 2001. About the August 7th Memorial Park The Memorial Park is a place where people come to reflect,

in harmony with each other, their neighbors, and the need to

remember and relax. The park is open daily from 8am to

condemn acts of violence in society so that peace can prevail.” 16 | SME DIGEST

6pm, and a minimal fee of 20/- is charged at the gate for the

Senator Obama 25th Aug 06

maintenance of the park. The Park is very accessible to the general public and hosts about 12,000 visitors on a monthly basis. The Memorial Park comprises a landscaped garden, a memorial wall commemorating the names of those who died, a fountain, a sculpture made from the debris of the blast and a Visitors Centre. The Memorial Wall: The memorial wall commemorating the names of those who died is the central feature of the Memorial Park. 218 names of the innocent people who died on August 7th 1998 are permanently etched on it. 205 Kenyans, 12 Americans and 1 Rwandese man were innocent victims of the attack. The Mind, Body, Spirit Sculpture: A sculpture made from the debris of the blast stands poignantly close to the place where the entry to the basement of the embassy was. It was designed by a famous artist, Mary Collis and has three faces showing that people’s lives were affected in the three realms, mind, body and spirit. The symbolic landscape Every aspect of the memorial park holds symbolic meaning: •

The stones by the pathway were collected from the riverbed and signify the resilience of the Kenyan people to always fight terrorism and futile acts of violence.

All the plants are indigenous to show that people from all over Kenya were affected by the tragic act

• The fountain, made in the form of the Ying Yang sign, symbolizes the two sides of life, turbulent or tranquil. Visitors are urged to aim to live peacefully with whoever they encounter. Peace Builders Kids Club In 2007 the Park initiated a program called Children as Peace Builders, whose main objective was to offer education that would promote peace building among children through simple and practical programs offered via Memorial Park. In 2008 the program morphed into The Peace Builders Kids Club, which was launched on April 26, 2008. The peace building activities take place at the Memorial Park and in schools throughout Kenya. The Park is dedicated to the mission of both remembrance and peace building as it relates to both domestic and international terrorism and violence. The Trust is sustained through the gate entrance, hiring its conference facilities to the public, sponsorship, charitabledonations and fundraising efforts. REMEMBER. REFLECT. SUPPORT PEACE WWW.MEMORIALPARKKENYA.ORG


Major Breakthroughs for SMEs at the WTO Meeting in Nairobi By Wanjiru Kariuki


ne of the major gains at the conference was the elimination of export subsidies for farm exports. Export subsidies were being implemented by governments who would assist


their own farmers through a variety of measures such as tax breaks and loan guarantees. The problem with these subsidies is that farmers from poorer nations who do not enjoy the luxury of being subsidised by their


Foreign Affairs CS Amina Mohamed addressing journalist during the Ministerial Conference in Nairobi. PHOTO: CALEB IMAGES.

own governments are placed at a disadvantage. Small scale farmers in Africa, who account for approximately 65 per cent of the population, have reportedly been losing out. The elimination of export subsidies portends well for SMEs in the agricultural sector who will be able to compete on a more level playing field globally, and won’t be so easily displaced by cheap imports. The Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) for developing nations which MC10 delegates also agreed to may further protect SMEs. The SSM clause serves to thwart the potentially devastating effects of a competing export overwhelming a domestic market. This is done through a temporarily high tariff. These notable changes are to be effected almost immediately. Developed nations resolved to eliminate export subsidies

immediately, while developing nations will have until 2018 to get rid of the trade distorting policy. It must have been music to the ears of cotton farmers in the Cotton 4 (Benin, Chad, Burkina Faso, and Mali) and least developed countries (LDCs) as the Nairobi Package included some major breakthroughs for the cotton industry. It is expected

that cotton producing LDCs will be able to access markets in developed nations duty free and quota free. Export subsidies will also be eliminated, and the WTO reaffirmed the need for greater domestic support. For cotton producing SMEs, this will translate into greater and cheaper access to larger markets, which in theory will positively impact SMEs that require cotton for production. With more cotton producers in the market, clothing businesses will reap the benefits from both variety and competition. During the conference, Nigeria, Egypt, Rwanda, Jamaica and the United Arab Emirates announced that they will move to ratify the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), with Kenya announcing a week previously that it had agreed to do the same. Lesotho and Georgia ratified the TFA on 4th January 2016, bringing to 65 the number of WTO members

Delegates follow the proceedings of the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference in Nairobi. PHOTO: CALEB IMAGES.



Delegates follow the proceedings of the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference in Nairobi. PHOTO: CALEB IMAGES.

that have formally accepted the TFA out of a total of 108 members. Once the agreement is ratified by two thirds of the WTO membership, SMEs will be able to trade without cumbersome custom procedures, high traderelated costs and unclear export policies. Another big win at MC10 was the expansion of the Information Technology Agreement (ITA). The ITA eliminates tariffs in 53 countries on 201 IT products valued at over $1.3 trillion per year. IT products such as telecommunication satellites are on this list, and while Kenya is not yet a part of the ITA group, it will still be able to gain dutyfree access to markets which have agreed to the tariff elimination. For SMEs it will mean greater access to technology, which is not only crucial to gain a competitive advantage in their respective fields, but also encourages 20 | SME DIGEST

innovativeness - something Kenya is very good at. At the historic accession ceremony for Liberia, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf announced that the nation had passed the Small Businesses Empowerment Act, ‘which requires 25 per cent of public procurement to be directed at Liberian-owned businesses of small and medium size scale.’ As an LDC and an African country, Liberia’s commitment to SMEs lays the groundwork for others to follow suit in order to develop and transform economies through the inclusion of small to medium sized enterprises. The announcement of the Pan African Trade Hub System (PATHS) by Kenya’s cabinet secretary for Foreign Affairs, Amb. Amina Mohamed, and the Ghanaian Industry and Trade Minister, Mr. Ekwow Spigo-Garbrah at the MC10, moreover sets the stage

for an even more inclusive Africa. The proposed trade system will facilitate trade across the African continent, and provide opportunities for businesses and entrepreneurs. PATHS was presented to the African Union in their January 2016 meeting. If approved, it will result in an increase in intra-African trade as SMEs gain access to untapped African markets. Despite the laborious negotiations at MC10, the WTO reaffirmed its ability to negotiate multilateral deals, some of which will benefit LDCs, developing nations and SMEs, which all form the fabric of our continent. And if the policies of the Nairobi Declaration and the ministerial conference are properly implemented, African SMEs will be in a better position to trade with each other, and ultimately, the world.



How African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI) is Redefining Africa’s Banking Industry African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI) is a leading export credit body in Africa that has continued to provide political and investment risk and trade credit services for the past 15 years. ATI has so far covered over US$18 billion worth of trade and investments in its member countries. Their unparalleled expertise in facilitating export and foreign direct investments for companies doing business in Africa, saw ATI support trade and investments worth US$4 billion in 2014 alone. In 2013, the agency rolled out a plan that has enabled local and regional banks to lend billions of shillings to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). In an exclusive interview with ATI’s Chief Executive Officer Mr. George Otieno, SME Digest writer Rikkie Tumaini sought to find out why Deputy President William Ruto thinks that ATI is helping to rewrite the African narrative to one that reflects the continent’s positive transformation.

Rikkie: Several African countries came together to establish ATI with a view to protect their economies against credit and political risks. Briefly, what was this process like? How long did it take and which countries were part of this process? George: The process was supported by a technical assistance grant from the World Bank, which allowed COMESA member countries to conduct a survey to understand why they weren’t receiving higher levels of foreign direct investments. The result of that study showed political risks to be the key block to investors coming to the region. ATI was formed as a result of this study by seven COMESA countries and on 18th May 2000 the countries signed onto ATI’s Treaty – these founding members were Burundi, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia with the Democratic 22 | SME DIGEST

Republic of Congo, Madagascar and Benin coming on board later. ATI was physically established in 2001 with Nairobi as the headquarters. The World Bank gave loans or grants to these countries to buy shares. Rikkie: Why did you decide on Kenya as your host country? What opportunities did you see here in the country? George: Kenya was a stable and thriving economy and it continues to be so today. The government was also very co-operative and accommodating by offering facilities to ATI to conduct its business effectively. This made it much easier for us to establish our headquarters here. In terms of business opportunities, in order for our products to be useful, markets need to have certain infrastructure in place - Kenya has healthy and more mature banking and insurance sectors, for example, which has

allowed us to channel many of our products through the banks – targeting their clients. This has helped us gain traction and to have greater impact by reaching larger numbers of people. Rikkie: Tell me about your products and how exactly they benefit member states and how exactly can SMEs access these products and services. George: We have three basic product lines that can be grouped under two headings– one is political risks, where we have political risk insurance, and the second is commercial risks, where we have credit risk insurance and bond products. The third product line is a reinsurance line where we cover political violence, terrorism and sabotage. Political risk insurance typically covers any transaction that has government involvement and it


Deputy President William Ruto and ATI CEO George Otieno share a light moment during the organisation’s 15th Annual General Meeting of shareholders held on 5th June, 2015. PHOTO: ATI.

protects against the risk that the government might not make good on its contractual obligations, may refuse to pay, or may unfairly seize a company’s goods or take over a company. Examples of these could be foreign or local contractors hired to build roads by Kenha, or to provide goods and services to any government agency. We essentially guarantee the company that the government will not do anything to impede their projects and to make good on their obligations. Commercial Risks, on the other hand, do not involve any government risks. These risks typically refer to a situation where a company may have reservations about whether they will be paid by a buyer or an importer of their goods or services. One example could be flower exporters in Kenya shipping anywhere in the world, we actually do cover some of these exporters against payment default or refusal to pay by foreign buyers.

Bonds also fall under the heading of commercial risk. Contractors typically insure their work with bonds – so, for instance, if a contractor is hired to construct a building, they would likely have several bonds covering the preproject phase, the implementation phase and then the post-project or review stage. These bonds are typically held by banks or insurance companies. ATI’s role in this case is to reinsure either the bank or insurance company and in this way we increase their capacity by bringing to the table more insurance cover. The last line of business is political violence, terrorism & sabotage, which is essentially a reinsurance product – though we can insure directly, we typically cover insurance companies so that they can then offer this product directly to their clients. ATI therefore does not compete with the local market (banks or insurers) in any way.

Africa as a continent has attracted a lot of attention and now more than before investors are looking to invest in the continent. Do you intend to provide more products and services in the future to reduce the business risk andcost of doing business in Africa? George: We’re always looking at where the demand is and where it can possibly come from in the future. We try to be flexible and to listen to the needs of our clients. This is where our “bank portfolio” product came from. Banks had been telling us for a number of years that they wanted to do more for the SME sector but they were constrained by the risk factors in this sector. Working with the banking community, we then came up with a product in 2013, where we insured, on a portfolio basis, a whole section of a bank’s lending book. This allowed them to extend more SME DIGEST | 23


cent depending on the risk whereas global players would charge 10 per cent and more. Rikkie: How can SMEs looking for your service reach you? What is the process? Contacts?

ATI’s Chief Executive Officer Mr. George Otieno at a past event. PHOTO: ATI.

credit to SME clients because they were able to use our insurance policy in place of collateral, which many SMEs lack. In the future, I’m sure we will continue to innovate and evolve our existing products to better meet the needs of the markets we serve.

taken place if our insurance wasn’t in place. I believe that our presence lends a certain amount of comfort to investors and lenders that it’s okay to do business here regardless of the political situation – whether or not the country is in election mode.

Rikkie: After the post-election violence, Kenya’s economy dwindled and it became very hard to do business in Kenya, at least for a while, according to the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Rankings. What role did ATI play in improving the country’s business environment in efforts to resuscitate the economy?

Rikkie: Would you say your products and services are affordable to SMEs looking to invest in your member states?

George: We have always been playing a role, in the background. Even during the election, we were able to close a very large deal (US$60 million / Sh5.1 billion) in the energy sector by covering a bank against sovereign risks just days ahead of the national election. This transaction would not have 24 | SME DIGEST

George: In contrast to companies based outside of Africa, we are affordable. We typically charge based on the risk, in terms of political risk insurance. This is significant because insurers based outside of Africa do not have the same perspective as we do on local risks therefore they tend to price quite high. This has been our added value - we’ve actually helped to bring down the prices locally while helping to ensure that more of the premiums stay in Africa. And for commercial risks, we would charge anywhere from one to three per

George: SMEs should go to their banks, who would then reach out to us. Typically the bank holds the policy. But in the case of some SMEs, for example manufacturers or suppliers on credit, we can insure their whole turnover or single transactions directly. They first need to fill out an application, which gives us some details of the transaction. From there, one of our underwriters would determine if more information is needed and once we have all the documents in place, we are able to issue a quotation (a Non-binding indication) and then a policy. The entire process from start to finish – provided that we have all the documentation, should take about two weeks depending on the size and complexity of the transaction. Clients can reach us at or Rikkie: Given that each member state has a different business environment in terms of regulations, political temperature and access to credit, how do you package your products and services to meet the needs of each member country? George: We have an in-house economist, who provides our underwriting team with regular reports on the political climate in each country and on the likely risks. This helps us to determine our appetite in any given country


for political risks. If, for example, a government has a history of meeting its debt obligations and is stable then this would be a decent risk. On the commercial risk side, we work quite closely with banks, who can then market the products to their clients but we also conduct workshops to target markets in the countries where we operate. This helps to create awareness and to drive demand. Rikkie: What are your long-term goals? George: Expansion, expansion, expansion! We are in the process of spreading our wings into new member countries with Ethiopia, Ivory Coast and Zimbabwe expected to complete the membership process at the end of this year or by the first half of

2016. And in parallel to this, more member countries of ECOWAS are also expected to join in the near term. This regional expansion will help to diversify our business and to spread our risk. This is our main focus at the moment. Rikkie: Where do you see Kenya’s business environment in the next five years? George: Despite some setbacks, I see the business environment in Kenya setting the pace for the region and perhaps even for the rest of the continent. Kenya is now the third largest investment destination in Africa. This figure can only improve once the country tackles some challenges. The banking infrastructure and legislation is quite sound and this will definitely help to drive the momentum.

ATI is here to help Kenya and other member states reach their destinations. Rikkie: What is your message to the Small and Medium Entrepreneurs? George: You are the engine of the economy. You are in the driver’s seat because you create the most jobs and contribute the most to the country’s GDP. This puts you in a position of power. It will be just a matter of time before the financial sector catches up and starts to create innovative ways to help you access more credit. I believe that ATI has started that process with our commercial risk products and now we look forward to other financial institutions joining the wave to support this valuable sector.

ATI AT A GLANCE 1. Since 2003, ATI has supported over US$18 billion worth of trade and investments across the continent. 2. ATI secured an investment grade rating of “A” from Standard & Poor’s rating services in 2008. 3. In 2008, at the height of the global credit crisis, Standard & Poor’s ranked ATI as the highest rated insurer in Africa. In the same year, ATI began work on a robust Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) framework and received a strong assessment from an International Risk Management rating system. 4. ATI’s Political Risk Insurance is governed by International best practices. 5. In 2011 and 2011 ATI won the award for Best Export Credit Initiative in Africa by Africa Investor magazine. 6. In 2012, ATI launched surety bonds as a new line of business and it is now the fastest growing product. 7. In 2013, ATI was at the heart of the Westgate Mall terror attack tragedy as one of the reinsurers of the mall. 8. In 2013, ATI rolled out a product designed to help banks tackle their SME lending challenge on a portfolio basis. 9. In 2014, ATI supported over US$700 million worth of trade transactions for hundreds of small companies including farmers in Uganda and Zambia, who were able to sell their goods in Europe and North America without having to worry about their cash flow. 10. In 2014, ATI partnered with the European Investment Bank to build capacity allowing it to issue large volumes of renewable energy guarantees across Africa


Why Young Businesses Fail By Bernard Chege


he statistics on survival of start-ups are discouraging: three out of five (60 per cent) enterprises in Kenya do not see their second birthday; only 10 per cent survive to the fifth year; 95 per cent of those that make it to five years survive. In other words from 100 new businesses, 60 collapse before one year is over. The 10 that make it to five years survive. There are many reasons why startups fail. One of the main reasons is lack of focus. A lot of businesses start up in an ad-hoc manner with no clear core business. In fact, a number of businesses establish their core business after a few months in business. By then they have tried supplying foodstuffs, stationery, engaging in minor construction works and refurbishments, passenger transport etc. Along the way, the businessman creates more rewarding networks in one line and settles on it as a core business. Unfortunately, for one successful business, hundreds of others perish after burning their 26 | SME DIGEST

fingers in different business lines. What most business people need to understand is that each line of business is a school in itself. In normal schools, it requires time and persistent study for one to graduate. And each year a student moves from one class to another, if the pass marks is met. It is the same in business. A new business must go through each stage of challenge successfully to ‘qualify’ for the next stage. Most of the SMEs start as a one owner and only employee. When you are alone there are no human resources issues to deal with. Hiring other workers is an ‘exam’. Dealing with human resources issues is ‘continuous assessment tests’. Leave (emergency, paternity and maternity, annual e.t.c.) come to test the business owner. Staff coming in late or leaving early are petty issues that put the owner to test. To achieve focus, the business must draw a strategic plan. This plan will outline what will be the core business, the marketing, the organization and the financial plans amongst others. The plan focuses

the business to achieve its goals. To support the strategic plan, the business needs to come up with policies that will guide its operations. A human resources policy, for example, will spell out how the business will recruit, motivate, develop and exit employees. A three years’ strategic plan would be ideal for a startup. Five years might look too far when one is just starting. The strategic plan will then be reviewed mid-term and at the end of the three years, and another one drawn for the next three or five years. As much as a strategic plan is important to a business, implementing it is critical. Business owners must apply themselves to ruthlessly execute the plan if the desired results are to be realized. Mr. Bernard is the founder of Crescent-side Management Services and an expert in Business Management including Strategic and Business Planning, Financial Management, Project Management and Banking.


Lean Energy Solutions Reaps Great Rewards from Taking Great Risks A significant number of employed Kenyans run side businesses and other extracurricular activities to increase their revenues while ensuring a steady income. In fact, some quit their full time jobs as soon as they start getting fat profit margins. Playing by a different set of rules, however, Dinesh Tembhekar jumped headfirst into the murky waters of entrepreneurship in 2006, leaving his lucrative job at the United Nations Development Programme(UNDP) to start his own business. Seven years later, his company emerged the overall winner of the annual Business Daily and KPMG survey: 100 fastest-growing mid-sized companies in Kenya. In an exclusive interview with SME Digest writer Rikkie Tumaini, Mr. Tembhekar shares some of the challenges he faced when he ventured into entrepreneurship and tips on how to grow your small business to a top mid-sized company. SME DIGEST | 27


Rikkie: Briefly, how did Lean Energy Solutions start and what are some of the challenges you faced at the formative and start-up stages? Dinesh: I started Lean Energy Solutions back in 2007 after years of working for other companies in Kenya and Tanzania. We started off as a consultancy, advising big companies on ways they can reduce their energy costs. Initially, it was a big struggle because we were competing with the traditional use of firewood which is cheap as compared to manufacturing briquettes. This led us to the B.O.O.T model (Build Own Operate Transfer)where we installboilers and earn fees for a predetermined period before we revert the equipment to the client. Access to finance was a major challenge considering that we were a small business. It took us six to seven years before commercial banks decided to give us business loans. To grow the company, we concentrated on saving the little money we made from the energy audits or consultancy services that we provided to the few clients we had at the time. In fact, lack of finance from commercial banks did not put me down. Instead, it made me concentrate more on my goal of reducing the cost of energy. 28 | SME DIGEST

Rikkie: Before being crowned a top mid-sized company, Lean Energy Solutions was once a small business. What are some of the tough decisions you had to make to grow your business? Dinesh: First, we decided not to take any dividends; that all profits made would be focused on growing the company. We also ensured we have different products and mechanisms to meet the demands of different customers to attract different segments of clientele, something that was not easy considering that we did not have enough capacity. That way, we grew our portfolio to attract customers and also funding to expand our business. Rikkie: In 2013, your company was crowned the Overall winner of the Top 100 Midsized Companies -2013. What would you attribute this achievement to? Dinesh: Sincerity and honesty. We never tried to use any short cuts because for us integrity is not only an important virtue in life but also for our company. It’s what keeps us going. We also sacrificed a lot by reinvesting our profit to grow the business and working so hard to build a brand out of a small business.

Rikkie: In your opinion, what are the five things a small business must do if they want to grow their business to a mid-sized company? Dinesh: Firstly, honesty and integrity are important virtues for any company. They must also work extra hard, be consistent in terms of quality of their goods and services, and be patient with their dreams in reference to James C. Collins’ book, Good to Great. SMEs must also ensure that they recruit the best people for the job and then find a way of retaining them.

Kenya’s Top 100 Mid-Sized Companies in 2015

By Rikkie Tumaini

Kenya’s Top 100 Mid-Sized Companies is an annual survey that showcases business excellence in the country by highlighting some of the fastest growing midsized companies in terms of revenue growth, profit growth, returns to shareholders and cash generation or liquidation. Any Kenyan mid-sized company in any industry can participate in the ranking by completing both general and financial questionnaires provided by KMPG. Benefits for winners include Top 100 Conference, bi-monthly forums in 2016, and opportunities to network with other Top 100 mid-sized companies. The survey is conducted by Business Daily, a business newspaper owned by Nation Media Group, in partnership with KMPG. Here are the 2015 Top 100 Mid-sized Companies:

Pharmaken limited Chairman SamierMurayyej (center) pose for a photo with his staff members after his company was declared overall winner during the Kenya Top 100 Mid-Sized Companies 2015 Survey Gala dinner at the Carnivore Grounds in Nairobi on October 9, 2015. PHOTO: SALATON NJAU

Pharmaken Limited.

Pinnacle (K) Travels & Safaris Ltd.

United East Africa Warehouse Ltd.

Professional Clean Care Ltd.

Tropikal Brands A Ltd.

Jo World Agencies Limited.

Izmir Enterprises.

Rushab Petroleum Ltd.

Ravenzo Trading Limited.

Warren Concrete Ltd.

Allwin Packaging Intl. Ltd.

General Cargo Services Limited.

Bonfire Adventures Limited.

D&G Insurance Brokers Ltd.

Mpps (1998) Ltd.

Superior Homes Kenya Ltd.

Sheffield Steel Systems Limited.

Kisima Electro Mechanicals Ltd.

Lean Energy Solutions Limited.

Coast Industrial & Safety Supplies Ltd.

Btb Insurance Brokers Ltd.

Superbroom Services Ltd.

Novel Technologies Ea Ltd.

Specialized Aluminium Renovators Ltd.

Powerpoint Systems Ea Ltd.

Spenomatic Ltd.

Well Told Story Ltd.

Machines Technologies (2006) Ltd.

Bluekey Software Solutions (K) Ltd.

Amex Auto & Industrial Hardware Ltd.

Logistic Solutions Ltd.

Software Technologies Ltd. Hipora Business Solutions.

Dataguard Distributors Ltd. Waumini Insurance Brokers Ltd.

Hajar Services Ltd. Supreme Pharmacy Limited. North Star Cooling Systems Ltd.

Mandhir Construction Ltd. Astral Industries Limited. Exon Investments Limited. Express Company Ltd.



Riley Services Limited.

Compulynx Ltd.

Reliable Concrete Works.

Impax Business Solutions.

Smart Brands Limited.

Avtech Systems Limited.

Mic Global Risks Insurance Brokers Ltd.

Furniturerama Ltd.

Bell Atlantic Communications Ltd.

Masterfabricators Ltd.

Ideal Manufacturing Co. Ltd.

Zen Garden Ltd.

Executive Healthcare Solutions Ltd.

Emomentum Interactive Systems Ltd.

Ark Construction Limited.

Educate Yourself Ltd.

Palmhouse Dairies Ltd.

Homescope Properties Ltd.

Orbit Engineering Ltd.

Gachichio Insurance Brokers Ltd.

Trident Plumbers Ltd.

Kenya Bus Service Management.

Synergy Gases (K) Ltd.

Sollatek Electronics (K) Ltd.

Eurocon Tiles Products Ltd.

Iron Art Limited.

Prafulchandra & Brothers Ltd.

Airtouch Cooling Systems Ltd. Riley Falcon Security. Wotech Kenya Ltd. Circuit Business Systems Ltd. Silverbird Travel Plus Ltd. General Automobile Corporation Ltd. Hospitality Systems Consultants. Total Solutions Ltd. Ndugu Transport Co. Ltd. Napro Industries Ltd. Devsons Industries Ltd. Dune Packaging Limited. Kandia Fresh Produce Suppliers Limited. Kencont Logistics Services Limited. 30 | SME DIGEST

Hydro Water Well (K) Ltd. Typotech Imaging Systems. Bagda’s Auto Spares Ltd.

Kisima Drilling (Ea) Ltd. De Ruiter Ea Limited. Roy Transmotors Limited.

Statprint Limited. Oil Seals And Bearings Centre Ltd. Nationwide Elecrical Ltd. Kenbro Industries Ltd. Cube Movers Limited. Newline Limited. Specialised Hardware Limited. Nairobi Enterprises Ltd. Farmparts Limited. Soloh Worldwide Inter-Enterprises Ltd. Deepa Industries Limited.

Industry Champions Retail Allwin Packaging Intl. Ltd Wholesale Izmir Enterprises Ltd Infrastructure/Construction Kisia Electro Mechanicals Ltd Transport Logistic Solutions Ltd ICT Software Technologies Ltd Manufacturing Warren Concrete Ltd Financial Services Waumini Insurance Brokers Ltd

Book Your Hotel Anywhere From the Comfort of Your Home

At 28, Estelle is creating a global hotel marketplace through Jovago By Caleb Mutua


ne evening in August 2006, Estelle Verdier-Wadine and her brother Sylvain arrived in Nairobi for the first time. It was 11pm and they were in a hurry to get to a city hotel that Sylvain had prebooked while in France. When they arrived at the hotel, however, they got the shock of their lives; their names did not appear on the guests list. No one was expecting them and the hotel was fully booked. Light-headed with hunger, flustered and panicky, they angrily stormed out of the hotel with an almost audible groan of disappointment. Luckily, they got a hotel in Ngara but

they had to sleep on empty stomachs because the hotel had no food for wazungus (foreigners). Estelle later found out that when her brother phoned the hotel from France to book for their accommodation, the hotel concierge did not understand anything because of Sylvain’s thick French accent. What Estelle did not know, however, is that seven years later she would be leading a first-growing startup dedicated to providing business and leisure travelers an ideal accommodation all over the world. Now working as the East and Southern Africa Managing Director

for, Estelle and her team helps thousands of travelers all over the world to find accommodation. “I love travelling. I have visited many great places in Kenya and Africa and it gives me great pleasure when other people discover these places too. Africa is still unknown to many people who only hear of atrocities committed by terror groups, civil wars and famine in the continent,” she explained. “Jovago gives me an opportunity to showcase Africa’s fantastic destinations to the rest of the world by providing a free, reliable and convenient way of booking hotels.” SME DIGEST | 31

PROFILES How Jovago works Since its launch in 2013, Jovago has grown to become a leading online booking portal with over 200,000 hotels in 211 countries, including nearly 10,000 in Africa and over 1,000 hotels in Kenya. Travelers can filter all these hotels by rating, charges or facilities like Wi-Fi and swimming pool. They are then required to key in their destination, travel dates and number of people they are travelling with. Travelers can also search for specific hotels and get advice on the best and most affordable accommodations especially if they are travelling with children. “We are global but local. In fact, we are the only international player focusing on the African market. There are also local competitors but they do not have a hotel portfolio as big as ours and we are the only ones that provide resident rates. More importantly, the information and the rates on Jovago are accurate and up-to date because we allow hotels to directly update their services and prices,” explains Estelle. Decisive leadership At only 28, Estelle has proven to be a young decisive leader. She first came to Kenya to work as an intern for the United Nations while pursuing her Masters in Political Science (Public Law) at the Institute of Political Sciences, Aix en Provence, in France. “I then went to England to study Masters in International Management at Bristol Business School. After one and a half years, I graduated and returned to France where I pursued another Masters in Economics at the University Paris-Dauphine.” 32 | SME DIGEST

Estelle first worked with Orange Telecoms in Paris before she was posted in Nairobi to work for Orange Kenya in 2011. Estelle then moved to Cellulant before Africa Internet Holding (AIH) approached her to manage Jovago. “When AIH investors started running startups in Africa, including Jumia, Hellofood, Lamudi, and Easy Taxi, finding accommodation in different African destinations was not easy and the few online hotel-booking services that existed concentrated on five star hotels. They saw a need to develop an online booking portal that offers all kinds of accommodation from as little as KShs 500 a night to KShs 45,000. Top destinations Jovago’s huge portfolio of hotels scattered all over Africa has

encouraged many travelers to visit some of Africa’s top destinations including Victoria Falls, Mount Kenya, Lamu, Maasai Mara, Lake Elementaita, Cherangani Hills and Ngorongoro crater. Estelle’s best destination is Rusinga Island Lodge, where her husband proposed to her. If anything, her successful career has proven to her that anyone who dares to dream can achieve their goals. “When AIH offered me the opportunity to lead Jovago last year, I did not question my leadership ability. I did not ask myself if I was the right person for the job. I was sure there were better people who could do a better a job than me. I was also sure I was going to do a better job than some people. I always tell my staff, ‘don’t think too much, do things.”

Estelle’s five hotel-booking tips 1. Is it the right time to travel? Are you going for a holiday in Kenya in the middle of a rainy season? The rates might sound great but you might end up having a wet experience. 2. Don’t wait for the last minute. Plan your trip in advance. 3. Ask your friends to recommend hotels. Before you decide to search for a hotel online, ask your friends to recommend hotels that offer best accommodation. This will save you time and money you would have spent searching for a hotel. 4. Check hotel rates in different platforms. The hotel might be the same but prices vary depending on the agreements between the hotel and booking agencies and sites. Also check for the information about the hotel on different sites to ensure what you see is what you’ll get. 5. Don’t wait too much. Hotel rates keep changing. Once you find something good, book immediately.

Naivasha Resort on the Road to Becoming East Africa’s Golf Destination Hub By Samwel Ouma


berdare Hills Golf Resort, which has been profiled by the 2015 International Property Awards in London as one of the greatest golf course developments in Africa, is in talks with the International Professional Golf Association (PGA) to achieve international golf status, in its bid to become East Africa’s premier golfing destination. PGA representatives have already paid an evaluation visit to the resort in Naivasha, and expressed their willingness to assist the resort in its international ambitions. “Our aspiration is to help grow the game and together with the Kenya Golf Union, we will ensure that we help this project succeed,” Mr. Maxwel Maxfield, a PGA representative, said during the visit. The golf resort is situated at the

foothills of Aberdare Mountains, an hour’s drive to Aberdare National Park; a spectacular setting with panoramic view of Lake Naivasha, overlooking Mount Longonot and Eburu Hills. The global golf tourism market is worth over US$17 billion, according to the International Association of Golfing Tour Operators (IAGTO). Upon its completion, the KShs 25 billion resort is expected to boost tourism in Naivasha and make the county a golf tourism destination hub. According to Aberdare Hills Golf Resort Managing Director, Dr. Pritam Singh Panesar, the golf course presents a real potential for the resort and the county in general to make a real contribution to Kenyan export revenue and foreign earnings. “I

envisage the golf course to bring as many as 5,000 high profile guests to Naivasha in the next five years,” said Dr. Panesar. Industry analysts attribute the growth of golfing estates to the expansion of Nairobi that is pushing projects that require large tracts of land to other counties. Naivasha County in particular is a magnet for luxury estates, one of its attractions being the town’s proximity to Nairobi. The developer said the estate will have 500 houses, a club house, a Leisure Park and commercial buildings sitting on 100 acres of land. So far the project has constructed a 30km road, a boundary wall, three dams, four boreholes and infrastructure for the residential developments, including a drainage sewerage and power.


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SME Digest Magazine Issue 2