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Green means Go

A Gado cartoon of people sitting on the fence demanding for their own colour left me ROFLMAO. In case you haven't caught on yet, its about fence sitters to the referendum on the proposed new constitution. More than give me a serious rib ache, the cartoon also prompted me to stop sitting by the sidelines and take a stand. It is therefore with a profound love for my country and belief in a better Kenya that I submit that my answer to the referendum is a big yes. As part of my education, I had sought to find out what the NO camp objections were, and what I discovered shocked me so much that I felt compelled to respond. You can read my response here www.yes4kenya.org

Consitutional Anatomy - 003 - Economic & Social Rights

I woke up this morning with the lyrics of Boomba Clan's song Sina Habari . The exact line was where one asks "Nairobi Water niliwafanya nini, siwezi fua siwezi osha mwili " while fully soaped up in the shower but with no water from the shower head. Needless to say I was also having a dry tap morning. I remembered someone mentioning that with the new constitution, I could sue the government if they did not provide water. I decided to check it out and see exactly what it says. [Aside] Checking out the constitution is now much easier thanks to a great new website called katiba.mobi who get my two thumbs up for their fantastic effort. I wish though they would include a search on every page, and Previous/Next navigation as it would make the site so much more useful. Finding the article dealing with water was however much easier than the PDF file from COE that I've been using. Article 43(1)(d) does give every person the right to clean and safer water in adequate quanti

Constitutional Anatomy 002 - Dual Citizenship

Away from the controversy, I sought to know what the draft law says about holding two passports. This is of particular interest to me as one of the services we offer under formAKenyanCompany.com is work permit registration. I regularly communicate with many folks who are curious about the provision for dual citizenship in Kenya. In the current constitution that's a flat no, but I wondered what the draft law said. A very brief section 16 spells out the main criteria for dual citizenship, you must first be Kenyan by birth. Section 14 describes what a citizen by birth is: (1) on date of birth, one of the parents is a Kenyan citizen, (2) applies to persons born before the effective date of the new constitution or (4) a child found in Kenya who is less than 8 years old. The birthers would find this interesting as it means that Obama is still a Kenyan citizen, and even if he had renounced Kenyan citizenship when he turned 18, then (5) allows him to acquire citizenship on application.

Safaricom: King of Innovation

A detour from the constitutional debate. This week there has been a very public back and forth between Safaricom on one side and CCK, Yu, Zain, and Telkom on the other. The brouhaha is over a set of regulations published by CCK, which you can view here and here . Now, I'll be honest I tried reading the regulations but I got bored, but if I'm to believe the arguments of CCK and Safaricom then I'm going to give this one to Safaricom. Why lie Safaricom deserves to be market leader. Not only have they cranked out great product after great product, they've done this while keeping their business very profitable using the "just good enough formula". In case you have not read The Innovator's Solution , by Clayton Christensen and Michael Raynor, then I'll explain. The just-good-enough formula means that a product need not be perfect to be marketable, it must only meet the minimum threshold of the job the consumer is trying to achieve. The clearest example

Consitutional Anatomy - 001- Kadhi's Courts

Jumping straight into the fray, I want to get started on one of the more thorny topics - kadhi's courts. The churches have made this one of the stickling issues to their opposition of the draft constitution, so I sought to read the clauses myself and see what all the noise was about. At first glance the sections on Kadhi's courts in the current constitution (s.66) and draft constitution (s.169,170) appear similar. Both give parliament the power to determine how the Kadhi courts will be run Both make the courts subordinate courts. Subordinate courts means that their decisions can be appealed on and overturned by superior courts.  Another similarity is that both specifically state that these courts will deal only with matters of a personal nature, to people professing Islam. I have noticed at least one difference. In the proposed constitution, in addition to professing Islam one is also required to submit to the jurisdiction of the court. I'm curious how this works, if

Constitutional Anatomy: Prelude

I've got to say, I'm pretty pleased with myself. I recently acquired something which makes me very proud, no its' not a 52" flat screen TV (damn!) but a spanking new voter's card. Despite chronically suffering from last minute syndrome this time round, I managed to get my card well ahead of the deadline, on April 16 to be exact. I never voted at the last referendum, mainly because I had no card and didn't really care about it. Things are different this time. After seeing the devastating effect of politics gone awry I am now keen on putting my best foot forward in making sure my voice counts with what happens in this country. It is why starting today I intend to vigourously examine the proposed new constitution to determine whether it merits my YES vote or should be given a big NO. I will warn you that I might already have some biases, being human after all but will do my best to keep this examination open-minded and impartial. So go get your voter's c

My first youtube video

Shocking title right? Yes, despite this technology being around for eons it's only today that I've managed to upload a video on the ubiquitous video sharing site YouTube. I had not seriously considered business opportunities in entertainment until I came across a young man by the name Deejay Kalonje. Apart from being nominated as best DJ at the Chaguo la Teeniez awards 2010 this extremely talented young man has shown me that there is money to be made in showbiz. Let the video speak for itself, you can then vote by texting "VOTE b1e3" to 8878. More on this later

Forget Superman, I'm not even Clark Kent

In Form Two at the height of my adolescent self-importance I felt that I knew much more than the (what I thought at that time to be) idiotic teachers who wasted my day when I could be expanding my mind reading Plato. One exception which was sharply brought home though was my American english teacher who had a Belgian name, Ms Koch (we called her Ms. K though, because pronouncing her name for the mandatory greeting of the teacher would have wasted half a lesson). Ms. K knew her stuff and when I tried to impress her by saying that creative writing was my favourite type of writing, she reminded me that all writing is creative. I remembered Ms. K today as I finally finished today's article of my new daily business blog ( blog.my-shillings.com ). In deed all writing is creative, and is more than just stringing together letters and words. A belated apology then to my "colleague" at Business Daily who I tore into some time back with a post in this blog. On second thought, I ta

Introducing My Shillings Blog

Starting today I will be writing for a fresh new business daily blog called My Shillings ( blog.my-shillings.com ). The daily will have an article running every day with a unique perspective on real Kenyan stories about new businesses, products on the market, investments for you, and startup successes. As a business blogger since 2006 I assure you that my reporting will be focused, and unbiased and intended to make earning, spending and saving shillings in Kenya easier and more informed.They’re your shillings so read, enjoy and be wealthy.

My Wrongs and Rights in Business in 2009

I'm just sitting in the office on a friday evening without plans (the life of an entrepreneur - a story for another time) waiting for the chaos (police and Muslims) to subside in the city center so that I can go home and watch TV. A bit sad yes but hey I'm consoled knowing we are many out there. Anyway I digress, the purpose for the introduction is to explain how I got into thinking about my wrongs and rights in the year 2009. Well, to be honest, I'm also a bit bored and really have nothing else to do right now.....so I got to thinking about my rights and wrongs or better still my wrongs and rights in business in the year just ended and unfortunately the wrongs are as many as the rights. I will list them down to share them with you and if you commemorate on any with me just shout yeeeeaaahhh!! 1. First and foremost, I really didn't have a proper direction for my business. I was really moving with the wind. Thats not good and its something I seriously intent to recti

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