Sunday, March 22, 2009

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 (“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,, Genius Forex, BetOnStocks and among many others have their beginnings at Genius Centre. At the Centre we have provided a wide range of business support services to over 500 businesses: including electronic legal libraries, e-learning, serviced offices, forex trading training, business registration services and many more. Our efforts have been recognized by international bodies: such as the World Bank and IFC; international and local media: including BBC and Nation Media Group; our government and foreign governments.

The Centre is continuously innovating and reinventing itself. Our goal is to strengthen our base and export the concept of Genius Centre locally and abroad. To meet this goal we are looking for a Centre Manager who will take on this challenge. If you believe you meet the strict criteria of this vacancy advertisement please send an application letter and your resume to with the subject heading “GENIUS CENTRE MANAGER”

Genius Centre is an equal opportunity employer.

Title of Role: Centre Manager

Purpose and Scope: The centre manager is responsible for managing the operations and business of the Centre including its subsidiary companies (SoftLaw, Genius Forex etc.) on a day-to-day basis. The Centre Manager will be well versed in business management, information systems management, and cost and financial accounting.

Outputs Expected From the Centre Manager
1. Business operation management, plans and reports
2. Information systems support and reports
3. Financial statements, plans and reports
4. Internal and external communications
5. Efficient utilisation of assets and resources

Skills Required

1. Business Management and Financial Expertise: a degree or diploma from a reputable university in business management; and knowledge of cost and financial accounting is required.
2. Marketing, Public Relations and Sales: the candidate must have at least one year experience and demonstrate ability to market and sell unconventional products.
3. Information Systems Management: at least one year hands-on experience managing a Microsoft Windows XP network with at least twenty network points is required. The candidate must have working knowledge of Microsoft Office computer applications, internet browsers and other common software. Although the candidate is not required to have technical training in network administration; he or she must demonstrate innate understanding of information systems and posses natural troubleshooting skills.
4. Communication Skills: the centre manager must have excellent written and spoken English. He or she must have experience in the preparation of business communication material and should be able to originate and express ideas in a clear and concise manner.
5. Other skills that are not mandatory but will be an advantage are:
a. Strong web programming, graphic design and software engineering skills
b. Demonstrable skills in website SEO and internet marketing.
c. Procurement skills

Personality Attributes
The Centre Manager must posses all the personality attributes below if they are to succeed in their mandate:
1. An IQ of 125 or higher;
2. Very hardworking. The Centre manager should be ready to work in the evenings, weekends, Sundays and public holidays to get the job done;
3. A creative and inquisitive mind and a strong desire to increase their knowledge;
4. An in-depth understanding and very high interest in entrepreneurship and technology;
5. Widely read in diverse and current topics and a habitual reader;
6. Extremely ambitious;
7. Socially active and friendly.
8. Tactful and persuasive;
9. Strong ethics;
10. Well groomed and very well organized;
11. 27 years old or younger;
12. Excellent sense of humour;
13. Physically fit and actively plays one sport.

The successful candidate will be offered a competitive compensation package.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

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 food, housing and education. Unfortunately I did not know this on my first day at school, and so in my struggle to fit in, I volunteered for the piggery assignment.

The horrors of the piggery are best left to another post, but because of it and other similarly involving farm assignments in form one and two I became highly proficient in running and managing a small-scale farm. It is amazing how with good agricultural techniques, proper irrigation, and a disciplined labour force, a 20-acre piece of land could self-sufficiently feed 400 people all year round. And I'm not just talking beans and maize, but also chicken, milk, pork, turkey, mutton, fish, sausages, and a full vegetable menu.

I eventually came to Nairobi, and my palms and fingers have lost their calluses and I can no longer wield a jembe like a Samurai's katana. Business integrated with technology is now what puts bread on the table, and I get my veggies from the supermarket. Nonetheless I'm still nostalgic of those days when I was part of a community that was able to feed itself very well even with limited resources.

Anyone who has come to Nairobi after growing up into adult hood in rural areas knows the one great attraction Nairobi has over their home area: "opportunity". Some will call it money, but I think it's more than that. In Nairobi, there is a sense of hope that even if you did not meet your goals today, tomorrow has good prospects. That might explain why Nairobi is always on the move with choking vehicular and pedestrian traffic from 6 am to 9pm; as its residents follow up on their prospects. In rural areas the situation is markedly different, and residents will display a much more subdued ambulation, with early retirement at the setting of the sun.

"Oh, if only rural areas could offer more opportunity, I would be the first to move back."

All right, enough day dreaming, if something is going to change, it won't happen because some supernatural force wills it so. It can only happen if working together, Kenyans create opportunities in rural areas.

Today I share with you the opportunity I hope to create, and it deals with the most basic and most crucial of economic activities; farming for food security. Through a close friend I am now in possession of a very high quality cultivar of sweet potatoes. Now for those who don't know ngwacis (sweet potatoes) and their leaves, when compared to other food crops are a super food crop; rich in nutrients, easy to cultivate, hardy enough to survive with limited rainfall, and surprise surprise, having several culinary preparations.

I am currently piloting the cultivar on a one acre piece of land near Tala and have entered into talks with 15 farmers in Kiambu to set aside some land for more trials. A bigger challenge will be to educate the maize-obsessed public on the superiority of the alternative ngwacis. A manifestable success of this campaign will be to see Kenchic serving quarter na chips za ngwaci; or Uchumi stocking processed ngwaci flour.

Of course growing ngwacis will not automatically reverse rural-urban migration but I'm hoping that it will at least show people that even rural, drought-prone, economically stagnant areas can have opportunity.