Monday, February 26, 2007

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

Sunday, February 25, 2007

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 imperative that the cyber comfortably break even from the first month.

After doing the arithmetics with the proprietor we decided to initially price browsing at K.Shs. 3 per minute although our calculations showed we could do K.Shs. 1.50 if we had enough clients. Once we decided on the price, it was easy to calculate how many minutes of browsing we would need to sell in the first month to break even. With the calculations I was able to draw up the first objective of the business, to sell "X" number of minutes of browsing per month.

With the objective drawn out clearly, the business gained perspective. The interesting part was how to sell the required number of minutes. One advantage of an entrepreneur is the ability to adapt quickly, and in order to fully maximize this advantage the entrepreneur must always listen to what her client's are saying. When we opened the cyber cafe, it took the standard setup of other cyber cafes, but then we started listening:

  • I need a police abstract
  • Can you help me send an email to my daughter in the US
  • I have a computer college nearby but no internet
  • Can you help me send an email
  • How do I check my KCPE results
  • Can I get a job online
  • How do I download photos from my phone
  • I want to play games
As the customers spoke we gleaned their needs and turned them into opportunities for selling more minutes. Since the objective was delineated in minutes it was necessary to ensure that all the services were sold in terms of minutes. I'd usually just list all the different services that we came up with but I'll let you do it this time. Can you spot the opportunities?

Over and above the commercial opportunities that we were able to identify and exploit there were several economic social and cultural benefits that I realized internet in the village could bring. I have teamed up with some like minded individuals to explore these possibilities and I hope to be blogging soon about our progress.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

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 technology and Kenya Data Networks are to provide the networking (I think) and internet connectivity, the Ministry provides the rest. The initial setup cost is K.Shs. 2.5 m ($37,715). There was no indication on running costs but the bulk of this would be internet connectivity which was to be heavily subsidised by the government.

I think the initiative is a good idea, but I had some doubts with the approach. D&S are not specialists in solar power, so their margins might be unnecessarily higher. The solar power also has limitations on the power of devices which can be connected to it. The D&S rep recommended 40Watts or less which pretty much rules on copiers, laser jet printers, and even PCs. Their recommendation was to use laptops (Harry: too expensive). KDN have done a wonderful job laying fibre-optic cable contrywide and installing WiFi hotspots around Nairobi, but short of using the relatively expensive VSAT, I don't see how they will reach most rural areas.

The project is in prototype stage so there is still a lot of flexibility for redesign. You can be sure I will be contributing my two cents worth.

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 connection in Nairobi. I tested each PC individually and was happy to see similar results. The PCs are Pentium III (666 Mhz ) Compaqs with 128K memory, purchased refurbished for about KSh. 12,500 ($178.50) and running Windows XP.

The real test though would be to see how the Internet would behave in "live" conditions, with actual customers paying for the service. I didn't have to wait long, the next day the cyber was open to the public and soon a trickle of customers came inquiring. I advised the owner to initially charge KShs. 3.00 per minute ($ 2.57/hr) and gauge the response. Not surprisingly the customers complained that the charges were high, but the amazing thing is that once they got online they were delighted by the speeds which they said were fast. At one point there were five people browsing and worried that the speeds might suffer I went around the cyber and did a spot check. I was relieved to see however that the technology held up and all the customers were browsing without a problem.

The first day was over, the cyber had passed the test, internet had reached the village. What followed thereafter was an enlightment as inquiries and comments from customers, curious onlookers and suppliers made me realise that there was potential for a lot more opportunities. Read about these insights in my next post.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Even more job vacancies


Apply To


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 All applicants should apply on AAI application forms, found on our website-

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 All applicants should apply on AAI application forms, found on our website-

no later than 5 March 2007.

Network Architect

Network Engineer

Systems Architect

Systems Engineer

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

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.

Monday, February 12, 2007

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 thought it was a fraud, but currency trading can achieve such high gains using leverages of up to 400:1. It is important though to understand that leverage magnifies both gains and losses and it is easy to lose a substantial amount of money within a very short period. Nevertheless there are strategies to protect your capital, increase your profits and minimize your losses. I was introduced to currency trading by a member at GEC and I am now helping others setup their own trading accounts and employ the above mentioned strategies. With the all-in-one facilities at GEC (high speed internet, computer, office desk and chair) and SoftLaw's financial consulting one can comfortably make a living trading currencies at GEC. If you'd like to know more send an email to

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 of diocesan accountant

The Administrative Secretary

All Saints Cathedral Diocese

P.O. Box 10313 00100


Or through email:

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


Community development facilitators - 4 positions

Human Resources & Administration Manager,

CCF Kenya via email:

23 FEB 2007

Tractor driver

please send your detailed CV, cover letter, copies of your certificates, testimonials, current contacts for three referees and your telephone and or e-mail contacts to If you are based in south Sudan with no email facilities, forward your application via SC UK Loki, Juba and/or Aroyo offices or to the address below,

The RRP Manager,

SC UK, south Sudan Programme

P.O. Box 48700


21 FEB 2007

Trainee (junior research assistant)

Kindly send your applications preferably by e-mail to:

For further information kindly contact: CTA Brussels Office ; 39 rue Montoyer ; 1000 Brussels ; Tel (02) 513 74 36

Fax (02) 511 38 68

Framework for the pan africa internship programme february 2007

Applicants will submit their CVs to the Pan Africa Policy Officer, Oxfam GB. Email address is


Bilingual secretary, fsl-3

Please send your application to the address, email or fax number indicated below before the deadline.
International Criminal Tribunal of Rwanda; Chief of Human Resources and Planning Section, ICTR P.O. Box 6016. Arusha, Tanzania
Fax: 255-212-963-2848, 1-27-250 4000, 255-27-250 4373, E-mail: , Applications must be submitted using the United Nations Personal History form (P-11)

19 FEB 2007

Human resources assistant, gsl-5

14 FEB 2007

Security officer, gsl-4

21 FEB 2007

Procurement assistant, fsl-5

19 FEB 2007

Sales executive

email cv immediately to: for an interview.

Project officer

Ms. Sokhna Cisse at

22 FEB 2007

Hospital staff (medical doctors and nurses with or without specialization, midwives, lab technicians, administrators and other categories of skilled professionals)

If you think this is something for you, please send in your application, CV, passport photos and references enclosed to our address.

Normeca AS - International
Mailandvn.12, P.O. Box 404
1470 Loerenskog, Norway

For further information please do not hesitate to contact with our office in Khartoum Tel: +249 (183) 58 00 14/42 or
Nairobi Tel: +254 (020) 27 30 934 Or
Our headquarter in Norway +47 67 92 76 00

please feel free to take a look at our website: