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Genius Heal Kenya Initiative

Yesterday was a proud day for me. Our business incubator Genius Executive Centre launched the Genius Heal Kenya Initiative. This initiative's main objective is to assist families displaced by the Kenyan crisis through prayer and material donation (foodstuffs, clothes, blankets, toys etc.). With over seventy entrepreneurs as members of the Centre we are confident that this initiative shall make a real and positive difference in the lives of fellow Kenyans. We have partnered with the Karen branch of the Red Cross to distribute the donations to the displaced families. Any contribution you can make towards this initiative is welcome.

Because I love Kenya...

Because I love Kenya, because I love Kenyans and all its peoples, because I love peace, because I believe in dialogue, democracy, fairness, and justice, I am setting up a new blog http://amanikenya.blogspot.com as a platform for practical and peaceful solutions to our situation. A blog to capture the goodness and neighbourliness of Kenyans even in these times of turmoil. A blog that champions the cause of only one party - the party of the Kenyan people. This is a blog about restoring peace, harmony and unity in Kenya during these times of unrest. While there are other important issues in Kenya arising from the December elections of 2007, peace remains the most important, most urgent, and most universal issue to all Kenyans. Let us reject tribalism, hatred, bigotry, intolerance, intransigence, and incitement. Let us embrace peace, dialogue, unity, prayer, compromise, and neighbourliness. I know I cannot make this initiative a success on my own and I appeal to all who share my cause

Is Compromise a Four Letter Word?

It saddens me that my absence from blogging has not been broken by innovation or entrepreneurship - those things that I love so much to write about. But today I am forced to I write about something I love even more, and that is my country Kenya. On December 26th 2007 I broke my vacation upcountry and drove two hundred kilometres in order to get to my polling station early the next morning to cast my vote. My enthusiasm to exercise my civic duty ensured that by 7:30 am on voting day I was done and was only to wait for the results. Confident that my subscription to SMS election updates would keep me adequately informed of the results and with my phone on roaming I accepted an invitation to spend one week abroad at a friend's house. My vacation has since turned into an unplanned exile from my country as I watch in disbelief as Kenya disintegrates at an alarming pace. I cannot stand by and watch as my beautiful Kenya is destroyed by the pride of two men. Kenya is bigger than both ac

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