Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Moi Avenue Blast: Business and Security

My empathy to the victims and entrepreneurs of yesterday's blast along Nairobi's Moi Avenue. Let us work hard to make our country a safe haven for investments and trade.

I hope that entrepreneurs take individual and collective measures to ensure the security of their enterprises. May God restore the hopes and dreams represented by the hardworking business men and women who were affected.

Wise Advice for Small Entreprenuers

Murori Kiunga has very sober advice for small enterprises on the best strategy to grow their business though focus and determination as opposed to what i call 'jumpy - jumpy' joe. Enjoy reading the article in the Business Daily


Monday, May 28, 2012

Corporate governance for parastatals

There is ongoing debate on the role of the Board of Directors in state corporations in Kenya. The Boards seem to have unending conflicts with the management. The role of the state through the minister is also very confusing since ministers seem to hire and fire at will.

The suggestion of an oversight body to supervise all parastatals has come up strongly. The Prime Minister has opposed the creation of an oversight body to supervise Parastatals since this would only create government bureaucracy.

I must say that i buy the Prime Minister's suggestion since government bureaucracy does not attract investment both from local and foreign investors.

I believe that it is the high time the government embraced corporate governance principles in all corporations. If for no other reason, since these state corporations belong to the Kenyan public. The Board of Directors need to be appointed independently and its role separated from that of management. Interference from other state agents needs to be eradicated.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Business investment: Views from UN Experts

South-East Asia / Agrofuel: UN rights experts raise alarm on land development mega-projects

GENEVA (23 May 2012) – Two United Nations experts on food and indigenous peoples today urged South-East Asian states not to sideline the human rights of communities across the region who derive their livelihoods, traditions and ways of life directly from their natural environments.

“Governments must not be seduced by the promises of developers when assessing large-scale land acquisitions for export-led crops and agrofuel production,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, and the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya, highlighting acute cases of competing land interests in South-East Asia, where agrofuel developments are rapidly expanding.

“Development is not always the outcome, however many jobs and export dollars a project promises to yield,” the independent experts stressed. “New economic opportunities, and new, more intensive uses of land, must not be at the expense of the human rights of local populations.”

“Governments must step up their vigilance in regard to large-scale land acquisitions to ensure that the fundamental rights of these communities are not violated, be they small-farmers, fishers, hunters, foragers or craftsmen,” they said.

Moves to convert 1-2 million hectares of rainforest and small-scale farming plots to an export-led crop and agrofuel plantation in the Meruake region of Indonesia could affect the food security of 50,000 people. Some 3,000 hectares of so-called ‘idle’ land has been converted to sugar cane for agrofuel production in the Isabela region of the Philippines, with a further 8,000 hectares due to be added, meaning a major land transformation and uncertain impacts for the municipality’s 45,000 inhabitants.

“Large-scale monocrop developments mean a wholesale shift in land use and land access,” warned the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, noting that the benefits of these projects accrue principally to multinational firms who export agrofuels or food crops to international markets.

“All too often, this is to the detriment of existing land users. If the environment they depend upon is repurposed, degraded and placed off limits, their ability to produce or to procure food – and thus their right to food – will be severely threatened,” De Schutter said.

“These are mostly indigenous families whose traditional livelihoods are rooted in their local environment,” Anaya warned. “Communities are often ancestrally tied to the areas in question and may not possess official deeds to the land, making their tenure highly vulnerable in the face of land conversion deals.”

”Converting bio-diverse forest land to intensive monocropping can entail wide environmental impacts, from the loss of forest-dwelling game species in Meruake, to reduced resistance to flooding and landslides in Isabela,” the Special Rapporteurs noted. “We must also be sensitive to the impacts of sudden influxes of workers on local food access, traditions and ways of life.”

The UN experts expressed concerns about an apparent lack of adequate consultation and transparency in both land acquisition processes. In neither case are indigenous communities believed to have been sufficiently informed and consulted about the land acquisitions and their repercussions on local life.

They also noted that major question marks hang over the land lease and compensation arrangements through which land is changing hands in Isabela, while in Meruake police intimidation and the signing away of land rights under coercion have been alleged.

Both experts urged the South-East Asian Governments “to align – as a matter of urgency – their biofuels and investment policies with the need to respect land users’ rights as detailed the voluntary guidelines on land tenure*, as adopted by States this month in Rome within the Committee on World Food Security.”

(*) Check the Voluntary Guidelines: http://www.fao.org/nr/tenure/voluntary-guidelines/en/

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Facebook IPO

Hi, of course you know that the buzz word relating to Initial Public Offers (IPO) in the recent days has been the facebook IPO. An IPO in simple terms means through which the public buys a portion of a company. both small (retail) and large investors (institutions) invest through an IPO. The attention generated from this IPO probably resembles that generated by Safaricom in East Africa. I believe that we can all learn from facebook's history and progress.

 You can read information on the IPO on Forbes.com just follow the link below.

Visionary Business Structure

I have had very insightful discussions with friends on political Leadership in Africa. I however i believe that as business leaders we can draw a lesson or two from our discussion. 

Our main point of discussion was that effective leaders must have a vision. They must then come up with a strategy for achieving the vision and move to implement it. A leader must be sensitive hand over to the next generation of leaders once their vision is achieved so that we can have a cycle of good and effective leaders.

A business whose corporate structure is organised around my simple guide on leadership, and focuses on people is bound to enjoy prosperity in the long haul.

Monday, May 14, 2012

True Kenyan Spirit

I was taking an evening walk on Government street in Machakos. At 6:00pm a whistle was blown and everybody stood still. Motorists also stopped to respect the flag. Cyclists also halted. An old man went further, he took off his cap. I was the only person walking but then i also stopped to observe the residents. I have not done that in a long-while and enjoyed respecting the Kenyan flag together with fellow Kenyans. We all stood irrespective of our tribe, political affiliations or social status. We were truly one.

Human face to justice and Business

Just back from a training on trial advocacy. Well im just tired from the study lessons and insightful interactive sessions that were intensive.

The main lesson from the training was that i need to put a human face to my work as an advocate. Our profession has been described as hostile. We cant wait to win to prove that we are the best. We are highly competitive. We treasure using legal lunguage to prove that we know it all. We intimidate both inside and outside our legal engagements. The conclusion is this, we must tell stories that people can relate to. Like telling a story to a grand mother.

On the same note business and investments is all about people. Corporations are run for and by people. Businesses exist through people and for the benefit of communities. We cannot delink our businesses from the communities we operate them from.

Have a people-oriented week.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Young Venture Capitalist on the Go..

Chaeck out the story Joshua Kushner on Forbes.com


Image of an ideal board of directors

 Recently there has been interesting developments in relation to corporate governance in public companies and parastatals has got me thinking. What is the ideal image of a good board of directors? How can we identify a company that is run responsibly before investing? 

Well here are some cartoon photos that provoked my thoughts. Tell me what you think about them.

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