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Showing posts from 2007

Internet Charity and Miraa - Day Two

Continued from Day One I do not consider myself a 'frequent flyer' but I do put pile up more road/air time than most of my colleagues. However I still have not managed to get over the "where the heck am I?" feeling when I wake up the next morning in a strange bed. It was no different that Wednesday morning, and my sore jaws did little to help with my morning disorientation. After a full English breakfast, we headed out to Laare to rendezvous with Eric who was at the centre already. Dru took the wheel and I fished out my digicam hoping to get that Pulitzer winning shot but in the end settling for Meru mementos. It was good that I had struggled but familiarized myself with the road the previous night because I started suspecting that we were on the wrong route. I figured Dru must have missed a turning somewhere when I saw a sign for Meru National Park. A quick call to Eric confirmed my suspicions and we quickly turned back to join the right turning. (bless the mobile p

Bambanet Application a Headache

Unfortunately I have to take back my laud of the new Internet connection product from Safaricom. Two weeks after my application and I am yet to get my Bambanet connection. Safaricom have really let me down on this one after promising that it would take a maximum of 48 hours. Hopefully I will have it by Wednesday as they've promised, let's wait and see.

Graduation and Growing Up

Most students think that graduation day is their day; the fruitful culmination of several months or years of study. In reality graduation is for the parents and guardians whose hopes and dreams are carried by their children. Graduation is the proof that their emotional and financial investment in their children's education has not been in vain. It's no surprise that "parents" always outnumber the graduands by 5 to 1 at any graduation ceremony. Yesterday was a special day for me as I attended such a graduation. But I was not the one graduating, and nope, there is no Harry Jnr yet. Yesterday I was privileged to be the chief guest at Mwangaza College in Nakuru on the occasion of their 13th graduation ceremony. I was invited to the graduation by Br. Brendan Foley, the current administrator of the college and my former high school headmaster. As chief guest I had to give an inspiring speech to the graduands. I was invited six weeks in advance so I had enough time to prep

Safaricom throws down the gauntlet

What a wonderful new service from Safaricom. If you have been hesitating getting your rural internet cafe set up, then you have no more excuses. Safaricom has launched a flat-fee (up to a point) internet connection product that is very affordable. The service branded as Bambanet costs KShs. 1,999 (USD 30) per month and needs you to buy a USB modem for KShs. 5,999 (USD 90). For this you get to download 700 MB per month and for anything over that it will cost you K.Shs. 10 (USD 0.16) per MB. I can positively confirm that this offer is by far the best internet product in Kenya at the moment: 1. It's relatively very cheap. 2. It's easy and cheap to setup 3. It's available almost everywhere in Kenya. Way to go Safaricom, let's see if your competition down on Mombasa Road takes up the cue.

Internet, Charity, and Miraa - Day One

Back in July my good pal Eric Mibuari, an MIT alumni, invited me to help him set up internet access at a computer centre he founded in Laare, Meru . The idea was to use my internet in the village model which I had already deployed in two other places. I jumped at the idea, not only is Eric a fun guy, but I had never been to Meru and I needed a holiday from Forex trading. So together with another of my pals, Dru, we piled into a 4WD and headed off towards Meru. Now, I have never been to Meru so I didn't really know what to expect. I borrowed the 4WD from a friend suspecting I'd be in trouble without it but I was pleasantly surprised to find well paved roads most of the way. There was another reason I borrowed the 4WD, it was because it had enough storage room. The previous week Nakumatt (Kenya's leading retailer) had announced the opening of its Meru branch and I had my eye on a big-screen TV that was going to be on a special half price offer. I was sure of getting it a

Still here...

Thanks to all readers of this blog who keep coming back even though I haven't posted stuff for quite a while. I'm keeping this one short but check back soon for my adventures over the past three months.

Business Plan Competions

There are several business plan competitions in progress where one stands to win funding for their idea and training. I have links to some of them but if you have any others please feel welcome to post them. 1. Ministry of Youth Affairs Chora Bizna - http://www.believe-begin-become.com/Kenya/index.asp whose deadline is end of May 2007 2. IFCs BiD Challenge Kenya SME business plan competition - http://www.bidnetwork.org/

Acclaimed Author David Fick speaks with Benin Mwangi

I enjoyed reading Benin Mwangi's interview of David S. Fick, an American Entrepreneur who writes about the opportunities in Africa for entrepreneurship. The interview reveals David's insight into entrepreneurship in Africa: opportunities, success stories, and challenges. Here is an excerpt from the interview: What inspired you to become an author and begin writing about Africa’s entrepreneurs? My wife and I were guests of the people of Kenya, Tanzania, and Ethiopia for two weeks in August 2000. We found ourselves impressed by the beauty of Africa and the hospitality of its people. The Ethiopia of 2000 reminded me of South Korea as it was in 1962 and 1963 when I had the pleasure of serving in Korea as a lieutenant with the U.S. Army’s Transportation Corps. Our suppliers were from the private sector in South Korea, and it was the local entrepreneurs who became the engines of growth for the future development of South Korea. Having graduated from the Wharton School at the Un

Career opportunities at Legal Publishing House

From http://www.kenyalaw.org/careers/ The National Council for Law Reporting (NCLR) is a corporate body established by the National Council for Law Reporting Act, 1994 and given the exclusive mandate of the "publication of the reports to be known as Kenya Law Reports which shall contain judgments, rulings and opinions of Superior Courts of record and also undertake such other publications as in the opinion of the Council are reasonably related to or connected with the preparation and publication of the Kenya Law Reports" (section 3) The NCLR is looking for a highly organised and self motivated professionals to fill the following positions: Law Reporter (1 Position) (Deadline : 22 June 2007) Assistant Law Reporter (2 Positions) (Deadline : 22 June 2007) Systems Administrator (1 Position) (Deadline : 22 June 2007) Web Developer (2 Positions) (Deadline : 22 June 2007) Proofreader (2 Positions) (Deadline : 22 June 2007) Publishing As

The Journey of an Afropreneur

Over the weekend I discovered quite by chance a wonderful blog by Quadimoso called Coding south of the sahara. Quadimoso is a Kenyan entrepreneur (refers to himself as an Afropreneur which must be a portmanteau of "African" and "Entrepreneur") who has transitioned from techie to contractor to entrepreneur. He has a wonderful series called Journey of an Afropreneur where he chronicles his dreams, challenges , failures and successes. It's great reading for anyone with an IT background interested in becoming an entrepreneur.

ICT pros, leaving in a Matrix

Ever watched the Matrix ? In the movie's reality: Neo, Morpheus, Trinity and the rest of the ship's crew are escaped "energy" slaves who don drab gray attire, have cropped hair, a row of tubular openings along their spines and have limited physical ability. When they enter the Matrix, a simulated reality, they become these superhuman, messiahs with a tendency for haute couture (leather, sung-glasses, hairstyles et al). It's attributed to something Morpheus refers to as a "digital projection of what one thinks of their self". Amazing how different what one perceives of himself is with the actual reality. Last week I participated in an ICT & Media workshop organised by Afroline Media Services. I shared the resource panel with among others: Les Baillie, CFO - Safaricom , Kevit Desai, Chairman - IEEE and Churchill Otieno, Editor - Nationmedia.com. I was there to speak about how rural internet could benefit the dissemination and collection of informati

Hello my name is Harry and I'm a clickaholic

My Dad is an engineer and he has always been an early adopter of technology. Back in 1995 when Shem Ochuodho's ARCC was the only ISP in Kenya we had a dial-up connection from our house in Njoro (a rural area 200km from Nairobi). We were just one of three people in the entire Nakuru district who had internet access and this meant that we used to get several "clients" from the nearby Egerton University who needed to send and receive emails abroad. My own time on the Internet though was limited; sadly every connection to the internet required a dial-up to ARCCs servers which were in Nairobi (a trunk call) which was relatively expensive. The few times I got to send or read an email though I do remember using a very "dos-like" interface where the mouse had no function. Fast forward to the year 2000. Several ISPs had come up leading to a mushrooming of cyber cafes. My dad had since stopped subscribing to the dial-up service but was in need of an affordable way to sen

Barcamp .... Wow!

I know, I know its way past Saturday and I promised to write this by 6pm Saturday, but the iBurst link we were using at Barcamp misbehaved and afterwards I have been either offline or otherwise occupied :). If I had to sum up Barcamp, I'd say WOW! Although not that often, I have attended forums with great ideas and great personalities. What made Barcamp different though was the passion behind these ideas and personalities. Each presenter who came on stage was intense in his (sadly there were no 'her' presentations) presentation. Kiania, the MC, had to work hard to make sure there was enough time for everyone to speak. Starting off Barcamp was Josiah Mugambi with a Bugatti Veyron presentation. This is one presentation I was really looking forward too but sadly I never made it on time. Apart from some LMS preparation of GEC brochures I spent almost 15 minutes looking for parking (I'm going to be a green from now on - walking is good :-) ) I did make it on time for AF

Barcamp in session

15:09 EAT Q: How do you know whether you are in a techie zone? A: Everybody talks in TLAs (three letter acronyms) and they all understand each other! Barcamp Nairobi 07 is definitely a techie zone. CNC, GNU, USRP, MIT etc. I'm realising I need to touch up on my IT diploma notes. The atmosphere is great, I always love being around intelligent people, and there is no shortage of them here. I'm yet to give my presentation but expect to write about it as soon as its over (thanks to WiFi)

Barcamp Kenya

Tomorrow (Sat. March 31st) Barcamp holds an interactive gathering at the University of Nairobi , Civil Engineering Lecture Theater AT 1PM. The theme will be technology, media and startups. I'll be talking about this blog as well as LawsofKenya.com and Genius Executive Centre . Everyone is invited and best of all its free. See you there.

The Victorious Minute

Today I was reading an article by HR consultant Annabell Karanja in the MyBusiness entrepreneurship magazine. The author spoke of the challenges facing those going through the transition from employee to entrepreneur. It got me thinking about some of my own experiences. Granted I was never employed for long (about 1 year) but I nevertheless picked some habits which were hard to shake once I decided to go into my own business full time. As an employee one abides to strict reporting times at the pain of dismissal (stick). Since there is such a strong motivation to report to work early in the morning, waking up is not so difficult. I'm also generally an early riser so that made it all the easier. Even those days when I really didn't feel like getting up, imagining the pursed lips of my supervisor speaking a silent disapproval would help me get out of bed. How things changed when I became my own boss. Most people long to be their own boss so as to avoid waking up early in the mor

Treating the Last Minute Syndrome

If you read my post The Last Minute Syndrome then you know that last Monday I was going through acute symptoms of a certain disease. Lets pick it up from where we left off. My nerves were all frayed, my breathing was irregular, my body temperature was above normal, and my eyes kept drifting to my watch which I noticed was showing a time five minutes earlier than the street clock. The disease was now in its final stages, would I survive or was the disease going to get me? When rushing towards a deadline with these symptoms, it seems the world moves in slides instead of a continuous flow of events, and that you are watching yourself as the lead actor in a tragic-comedy. I saw myself: jump out of the taxi, rush towards the lift, get stopped by security, go back to security desk, requested for ID, fumble for my wallet, drop my wallet, look at my watch 8:43, think of those movies where a bomb is being defused up until the clock is just about to get to zero, allow myself a smile, rus

The "Last Minute Syndrome"

Last Monday I spent a good deal of the day in bed. No, I wasn't sick or nursing a hangover - I was just sleepy but when I think of what made me so sleepy perhaps I was sick. You see I think from time to time I get infected with a certain syndrome, what I call the "last-minute syndrome". Now this syndrome is not contagious but from my discussions with others I have discovered it has a high infection rate in Kenya. The Last Minute Syndrome (LMS) is a fully preventable disease, but do not be surprised if you are re- infected severally. Worse still you face a higher risk of re-infection if you come out of the disease unaffected. We can say you build up a psychological immunity. Ok, lets rewind about two months back and I explain how this all started. I was sitting in my office going through the daily when I saw an advertisement inviting tenders. The ToR seemed in line with SoftLaw's business so I went ahead to purchase the tender documents. I had a whole six weeks to s

A business experiment

If you have read my posts on currency trading then you'll know about my latest fascination, forex. This week that passed I decided to send out feelers to Kenyans to see what their thoughts were on forex. I took out a 7-day classified ad in the leading daily with the words How to invest 14K and earn 50% pm. www.geniuskenya.com/scalp My primary objective was to gauge the quantity and quality of response to see what kind of future if any forex trading had in Kenya. The link on the ad led to my website where I had a free teaser e-book for download. At the end of the book one was requested to transfer mobile airtime of K.Shs. 100 (~ $1.50) to my mobile phone in order to register for a free lecture I was to hold on forex trading. The lecture was for March 3rd. Secondary objectives were: to market GEC , market my consultancy services with regard to rural internet connectivity and see the opportunities for training in forex trading. Trust my luck, just after I had put my ad two potential

Updates on Currency Trading

Thank you all for your inquiries on currency trading. Because of the overwhelming response I have received from my post If you have an appetite for risk I'll tell you how to make money , I have decided to prepare a short introductory course on forex trading. I have designed the course for novice traders who would like to see their investments return a profit. The course is free of charge and begins with an e-book which you can contact me for a copy . The e-book is in adobe pdf format, if you don’t have adobe reader you can download it free of charge from their website http://www.adobe.com

Insights in Rural Internet

Followed up from Cyber Cafe with an EDGE I've heard it said that when you plan to start a business, once you have written the business plan, half the work is done. A solid business plan is important for any start-up but... at the risk of sounding anti-establishment I've always found writing a business plan before starting the business so stifling. My preferred approach is to have a general idea of what the business is to achieve and write the plan as I go along, reacting to customers, suppliers and processes. I nevertheless ensure that I stay true to my business partner Stephen Alala's mantra that any business should be "anxious for profits, but patient for growth." When launching the cyber cafe, I took it as my task to ensure that I was setting up a viable business and not a white elephant. The main fixed recurrent costs for a cyber were going to be rent and wages, while variable recurrent costs would be internet, electricity, and stationery. It was imperati

ICT development Expo: Digital Village

Last week I attended an expo sponsored by the Ministry of Information and Communication that was about ICT opportunities in rural Kenya. The conjucture of rural and ICT obviously drew my attention (Read my post about internet in the village ). I know the event was over a number of days but truth be told I only went one day and only one entry caught my eye (plus it was too hot and not very well attended). The entry was a supposedly turnkey digital centre for use in rural areas. It was made of a cargo container outfitted with solar powered electricity outlets and structured cabling. It also had 8 PCs with TFT monitors placed on 2'x2' desks. The use of space was incredible, with a desk at the back end probably for the manager. A representative for Davis & Shirtliff (co-sponsors of the entry) was at hand to elaborate on the project. The project is a private sector/public initiative fronted by the Ministry of Information. Davis & Shirtliff provide the solar power technol

Cyber Cafe with an EDGE

Followed up from Laying the Groundwork for a rural cyber I've finally got around to writing this. Thanks for you all who patiently waited. Although I approached the project as an "internet consultant", I soon realised I would need to implement the whole spectrum of tasks required to get the cyber running. I spent almost a week laying the structured cabling, installing the software, and configuring the network. Most of the work I was doing for the first time (e.g. drilling holes in concrete to fix the trunking screws) and most of it was hard, but all of it was enjoyable. I needed to prove the project was implementable with minimal human resources (if it was going to work elsewhere). With an eye on both troubleshooting by the owner and future projects I prepared detailed How To manuals for most of the tasks. So the day finally arrived, November 17th I connected all the PCs to the internet. The results were incredible, the speeds were nearly as good as my 256K broadband

Even more job vacancies

Position Apply To By Human Resources and Organisation Development Coordinator, East and Southern Africa Based in Nairobi Applications should be sent with a CV, cover letter and contact names and details of at least two referees to hrceasa.jhb@actionaid.org All applicants should apply on AAI application forms, found on our website- www.actionaid.org . no later than 5 March 2007 . Human Resources and Organisation Development Coordinator, West and Central Africa Based in Nairobi Applications should be sent with a CV, cover letter and contact names and details of at least two referees to hrceasa.jhb@actionaid.org All applicants should apply on AAI application forms, found on our website- www.actionaid.org . no later than 5 March 2007 . Network Architect kmbui@com21mobile.com Network Engineer kmbui@com21mo

Free Nursing Program

Are you between 18-28 years old, interested in the Nursing field, University of the District of Columbia (UDC) is offering FREE tuition, FREE books, a $250 monthly stipend, and guaranteed job placement as a nurse at Providence Hospital upon graduation (it's a 3 year program) with a starting salary of $40,000. The program is recruiting new students now. Please contact Ms. Beshon Smith (202) 266-5481 or email Bsmith@urbanalliance.org Harry's note: This note was forwarded to me by a trustworthy source, I nevertheless urge you to make all proper inquiries before committing yourself to anything.

If you have an appetite for risk I'll tell you how to make money

Kenyans amaze me. We are probably among the most industrious, entrepreneurial, intelligent people in this part of the hemisphere. I continuously meet people who are innovating on new ways to stay ahead of the pack and make some extra coins. Recently I have been engaged in the newest money-making fad at GEC, currency trading. Currency trading involves the buying and selling of currency pairs (e.g. Euro/US Dollar or Dollar/ Yen) over an interconnected network of banks and dealers. It is the largest and most liquid market in the world (1.5 trillion dollars a day) and operates 24 hours a day from Monday to Friday. Most importantly it is accessible to retail traders (read me and a bunch of other enterprising Kenyans) through a software interface connected through the internet. You can start with as low as $200 (KSh. 14,000) and can conservatively make 10% returns on investments per day! (make $400 (KSh. 28,000) profit in one month from a $200 investment) When I first heard about it I th

More job vacancies

I've tried to make it easier this time to apply for the jobs. Below you will find a summary of the jobs. All the best Position APPLY TO DEADLINE Position of diocesan accountant The Administrative Secretary All Saints Cathedral Diocese P.O. Box 10313 – 00100 Nairobi Or through email: allsaintsdiocese@wanachi.com 15 FEB 2007 Recruitment of graduate clerical trainees Hawkins Associates Ltd Human Resources Consultants Muthangari Road , Lavington P O BOX 30684 , 00100 Nairobi Fax 02-3864273 Email hawkins.associates@khigroup.com . Community development facilitators - 4 positions Human Resources & Administration Manager, CCF Kenya via email: hr@ccfkenya.org 23 FEB 2007 Tractor driver please send your detailed CV, cover letter, copies of your certificates, testimonials, current cont