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Showing posts from 2009

Speed Networking...is it like speed dating?

Am a great advocate of networking to get new business. Its the best way especially for small and medium sized businesses to meet the people they need to meet to get business in an inexpensive way. The question is however, how do you choose what networking event to attend. Some of them are downright useless and with my goldfish concentration span most tend to be very boring. The other day though, I went for a speed networking event organised by AFRI Business Development. The first time i heard about it I was a bit skeptic. We all know about speed dating so speed networking sounded a bit off key in relation to business. Questions going through my mind included..."is it like speed dating where you are able to get a date"?...Ok I know that's a bit simplistic thinking but really it was hard for me to conjure up what speed networking would be all about before I attended. So i went, not with a business objective in mind but if i am to be honest, out of curiosity. I have to say

Am Buried in Debts

Sometimes I wake up in the morning and I really don't want to go to work. Not because I don't like what I do because I love it. I simply dont want to go because I am so buried in debt i dont want to answer the calls of my suppliers. Its during these times I ask myself, how did this happen? Ok, I know how debts are accumulated but really, I've been working, been constantly busy and always offering more services. How did I get into debt? The sad thing is the answer is simply my own debtors are not paying me. Today its frustrated me so much ive resulted to reading a book on chasing debts for answers. For those of you in similar shoes as I find myself, here are a few tips i got from my debt collecting book. Might come in handy to you too. 1. Make sure your credit terms are known to your customers. The best way is to print them clearly on the invoice. 2. As soon as your customer has overstepped the mark and the bill is overdue, ask for the money you are owed. This should be d

Chapos and Chicken

Ok you are probably wondering; WHAT, is this going to be? ramblings on food... or what? Well... yes but not in the way you think. This week I was doing a project for a restaurant. I know, mmmhh restaurant. It was one of those projects consultants like me get once in a while and think, yeah i like - where meetings are done in the main restaurant hall over tea and hors d'oeuvre. It was also a good opportunity to participate in a non-conventional business. To use innovation in a nondescript script. Some of you might know the restaurant am talking about, KPs located on Utali lane, yes next to Mwenda's. It's been there for some time but received a full face-lift in January with the change of ownership. I'm not being paid to say this but they have the best chips masala and cocktail juice. ....Ok now moving away from my food ramblings and back to the business part. Restaurant as businesses are not an easy thing to work. As an unconventional business, the owners are required

Liverpool Scores

Few things in this world make my heart swell with pride. Call me a cynic but I can actually count them in one hand, they include and are limited to: Liverpool (a.k.a. the Underdogs) scoring, my mother's ugali and nyama stew and last but not least, our new improving roads. This weekend though, I added a new item to this short list, "A Voice for Change". Its very rare to see a young Kenyan be recognised for promoting positive change especially in the business world in our country. We are recognised for the Jerk dance (is that even ours by the way), for demonstrating against the youth fund ("Kenyan youth demonstrate against unfair distribution of the youth fund") and of course tenacity to follow ("Kenyan youth are driven by western influence"). I'm not hating here but its true, not many have been recognised for being a voice for positive change. That is why the article in the saturday magazine "A voice for Change" was a tear jerker for me

Nobody knows the trouble I've been through...Nobody knows my sorrows

An entrepreneurs life is a dog's life ... literally. But that's not even the worst thing about it, the worst thing about it is entrepreneurs love it, they are addicted to it. They love the risks, they love the challenge, they love the total control, they love every damn thing about it and that my friend is the worst thing about it. I met an entrepreneur the other day - the real thing, not those cowboys who try to pass as one. This entrepreneur was an innovator, a calculative risk taker, a salt of the earth downright talented business mover who knew he was good at what he did because he loved it. I have to admit it was a beautiful thing to see. It inspired me, motivated me, propelled me to try and reach greater heights. You might ask, why so much philosophy over what i consider a dog's life...literally. Well the thing about entrepreneurship is that its not for everyone. But for those who it is for, for those who answer the driving need in their hearts when they hear the ca

The day I became a criminal

Just having arrived back in Nairobi from following up a business deal in a neighbouring country I was feeling pretty good about my business. It was 2004, I was a third-year student student and SoftLaw had just started taking off. We finally had more than just cobwebs in our bank account and were learning how to roll with the big boys. I guess it was because of this positive vibe that while engaging in conversation with one of my classmates I happened to mention that I was now an "international businessman". My statement was met with a sneer, she looked at me from toe to head lingering on my well-worn leather shoes. "So why do you still have dusty shoes?" she quipped. The statement, intended to knock me down my perch, was delivered with pin-point accuracy. I did my best to laugh it off, but deep down I knew she was right, I knew I had to get a car to prove myself. As absurd as it may seem to a non-Kenyan, a motor-vehicle regardless of its state, is the ultimate sta

Muta Do?

Working as a consultant for Strathmore University's faculty of information technology I was tasked with examining diploma students' programming projects. We had a pretty standard marking scheme; check whether the program can interact with a database - add, update, and delete records from the database; check if the program validates user input - does it allow you to enter text in a field which should only have numbers; etc. For a student to pass, technically all they required to do was ensure they met these criteria. Despite this many students were marked down for petty errors which had little to do with the functionality of the program . Some of my fellow examiners took a perverse pleasure in 'crashing' the examinees software and reducing them into tears , even when these examinees were their students who they had been in charge of for over three months. "This is not working, that is not running, it doesn't function" . They complained and complained, cra

Do or Die

When you start a business and its a Do or Die agenda the possibility of you succeeding is much higher than when its done as a side hobby. For instance, if payment for where you stay and what you eat is dependent on the business you are doing, trust me the chances of you failing are reduced substantially. However, even if Do or Die, I came to discover there are many other additional things that will affect the success of your business. According to the Ministry of Trade (Kenya), those additional things include "being able to craft good strategies that can exploit the opportunities in the environment". These strategies don't just come by you, they are based on theories made practical. How are we expected to get these theories made practical? Well its simple ...training! A number of us (small business owners) don't look at training as an asset. Training well done can substantially increase your profitability. And am not talking about an MBA or an MSc...am talking ab

The CEO Janitor

I’m a self confessed holiday hater , but today as I still wait to be counted I am grateful for this holiday. Besides dreaming up some crazy ‘tribe’ which I’ll tell the enumerators I belong to (I’m leaning towards Kryptonian) I get a chance to take a breather. You see the last two years have been a non-stop 24/7 marathon to keep ahead of an economy battered by the combined effects of post-election violence and a global economic recession. Although 2009 has had its upsides compared to last year, the scarcity of food, electricity, and water continue to take their toll on business. One can even say that it’s been stressful. Stress however is not necessarily a bad thing, like Jon Voight acting as a bad guy in 24 says “stress is the fertilizer of creativity”. Indeed I have had to be extremely creative in 2009 to ensure that my business continues to be relevant in the face of a depressed economy and with all this rationing. By forging strong partnerships with other entrepreneurs I launch

Laws and Ambition

This year I celebrate my 10th anniversary since finishing high-school. Yes, for those who want to count, it was 1999, when I finally lifted the yoke that is high school off my shoulders. It's also been ten years where I've been able to forget most of the millions of pieces of data I stored in my brain for examination on topics as varied as photostatic conductors, wheat farming in Siberian tundra, morphological features of fish, and calculus. That last one though (calculus) I continued to study even in the real world (apparently anything you experience while in school, under 18, and on your parent's allowance is not the real world, but a fictional world created to get you employable skills). Well, maybe not the actual formulae, but calculus dealt with curves. One curve I became familiar while studying law was the curve of diminishing ambition. You see when you join law school, you feel like you are on top of the world. Heck, you must be one of the brightest minds in the la

Twitter

I now twitter & to prove my new brevity. I'm going to keep this less than 144 characters. Check me out at http://twitter.com/startupkenya

Cloning Myself - A job for kenyans

Calling on all Kenyans who might want to become my clone. I've recently embarked on a campaign to re-brand and consolidate all my companies under Genius Centre. If you think you might be up to the challenge of being the new manager, please do apply. The vacancy can be seen below. And please please please, do not apply other than through the provided email address and do not apply on a date later than 15th April 2009. GENIUS CENTRE – CENTRE MANAGER Genius Centre (“the Centre”) is the home for entrepreneurs in Kenya, where innovative ideas are born, nurtured and developed to be profitable, high growth, and sustainable businesses. Set up by entrepreneurs, this centre has over five years been the base of pioneering and innovative companies that have redefined the business landscape in Kenya. SoftLaw, LawsofKenya.com, Genius Forex, BetOnStocks and FormAKenyanCompany.com among many others have their beginnings at Genius Centre. At the Centre we have provided a wide range of business s

Working towards a smaller Nairobi

Going to primary school in the boondocks after living in the States for years I was ridiculed heavily for my American accent, pudgy frame, 'Boyz n the Hood' hairstyle, and feather-soft palms. Not wanting to fall into that stereotype I worked hard at fitting in with the crowd. I swam in the river, played football barefoot, shed the weight, and did most of what was expected of a 12 year old boy in rural Kenya (Ok, Egerton University is not that rural anymore, but it was still mashambani in the early 90s). With time my peers accepted me and I no longer stood out like a sore thumb. Sad thing is once I joined a rural high-school, the cycle began all over again. Now, I know most of us have war stories on just how tough high-school life was and what we had to go through; but I'm pretty sure there are few who can top my experience. I did not go to high-school, I went to work in a hard-labour concentration camp where in exchange for labour in the farms and buildings we were given

Selling Income

One of the greatest challenges I have faced in my time as an entrepreneur is what to do after a large paycheck. Surprised? I was too at first , and it's even worse if you have been waiting for that payment for some time. With money in the bank, you rationalise with yourself of the 1001 things that need to be purchased, and they all demand high priority allocation. Of course, this is a psychological condition that can easily be averted by careful planning beforehand. When it happened to me I tried to avoid the extravagance that accompanies large income inflows by investing the money as quickly as I could. When SoftLaw sold the laws of Kenya to the judiciary I discovered why having the government as a customer can be very rewarding. Relatively prompt payment, many zeroes in the payment, and a very appreciative customer. With our newly expanded bank account, we knew that we had to quickly invest the funds or we would be sucked into a vicious and wasteful consumption given our still

More goof-ups from Safaricom and the Great Zap Mystery

You'd be very surprised if you walked into a management meeting at Safaricom. The meeting's agenda on how management is devoting or planning to devote considerable resources in customer satisfaction would bewilder you. My overworked flys on the wall tell me that this is currenlty Safaricom's primary focus, customer satisfaction. Did I hear a gasp, or was that you masking "bull****" under your cough? Here in the real world, we still are trying to figure out how customer satisfaction by Safaricom is measured: is it getting a dial signal on the customer care number 100? Or perhaps it's finishing a conversation without spending thirty seconds saying "Hallo....hallo...can you hear me...hallo"? Maybe its spending less than 30 minutes queuing at a customer care centre? While we ponder on this, I'm afraid I have to bash Great Green once more on another major goof. This time the culprit is M-PESA agent application on service so bad it almost equals the

The Great Safaricom Bambanet Rip-off

I'm going to stop reading newspapers. If you live in Kenya, and see the daily headlines you'll understand why. It seems like day after day I am assaulted with ever more dire headlines. Either the editors of these newspapers have suddenly turned into sadists intent on breaking this country's spirit, or our spirit is already broken and we are living in a very sick, sick Kenya. Over the past weeks I have read about greedy retailers who crammed their tiny stores with goods but couldn't provide decent exits or fire prevention equipment; policemen who demanded bribes to allow highly dangerous petrol looting, arsonists-looters who decided 'if I can't have it, no one can', ministers of government who dished out food reserves and threatened the lives of millions through starvation, custodians of investors funds who used these funds as their personal piggy banks, examiners who put in doubt the academic qualifications of a generation of students, and the list goes on

Give us a break Media Owners, Mudavadi!

Some will call me a hater, but I am not, and I can no longer keep quiet about this. As a compulsory requirement to completing a law degree at the University of Nairobi one must attend an 8-week clinicals programme during the second year of study. At these clinicals you intern under a civil law and criminal law magistrate for a month a piece. If you get a good magistrate you will get to write judgments for the cases you sit through (not that they will be implemented) and have plenty of Q&A time with your magistrate. I was fortunate enough to be assigned to one of the two Senior Principal Magistrates at Nairobi Law Courts where I sat through several high profile cases. I also got to write judgments on two accused persons (which were totally opposite to what the magistrate delivered), and saw the justice system in action first-hand. I learned many things during these clinicals but I remember two clearly. First of all: DO NOT commit a crime, or even be caught in circumstances where