Thursday, December 27, 2012

Will tea farmers hear the 'balance' message?

Tea farmers at work
I am writing this post from a village on the slopes of Mt. Kenya, the atmosphere is very relaxing I must admit. It is a predominantly tea growing village (see photo). I had time to evaluate how my passion to help companies balance between corporate rights and human rights trickles down to local enterprises in such a village. The last time I visited this village, electricity was a pipe dream. Now most homes are served with hydro-electric power. Well things change so fast and that’s why local entrepreneurs must think about the rights of their business ventures and the rights of the people they affect directly or indirectly. The earlier the better.

In Kenya we enacted a human rights centered Constitution that seeks to guarantee the rights and liberties of all Kenyans. The Constitution itself defines the term ‘Person’ to include corporate entities. It therefore goes without saying that Companies (small, medium or large) can claim some Constitutional rights against the state and against other corporate and to a certain extent against individuals.

Kenyan companies, from those in the villages to those in the big cities must now start thinking business and Human rights. Some have argued that human rights are a burden on companies, that they are aimed at diminishing profits. However companies now have a better opportunity to enforce their own rights especially against the state.

The nature of rights that companies can claim is limited as compared to individuals. A company cannot for instance claim the right to marry or to human dignity. It can on the other hand claim the right to privacy, freedom of association, labour rights, freedom from discrimination and so on. Nevertheless one point is quite clear, that a more democratic society based on human rights is of benefit to individuals and companies.

A balanced society is good for business.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Africa's expertise to utilize its Natural Resources

Imagine going to a five star hotel for lunch with no idea about how to use the fork, what spoon to use when…leaving you all confused. If you had gone for a business meeting, then it all goes wrong. If on a date then you are lucky if you get another one with the same party. What is my point here?

Today I had lunch with a friend and we partly discussed how important it is for Africa to develop local expertise to manage and govern the exploitation of its resources. African experts understand their people, the environment, Africa’s history and have a vision for its future. They are therefore best placed to guide the continent in developing just, sustainable, objective and innovative solutions to help us manage our vast resources.

Africa is on the verge of economic regeneration and developing local talent, across all industries and sectors, will help us more than ever before balance between corporate rights, public policy and the collective welfare of our people.

Therefore when we go for lunch as a continent we shall know how to use the fork, what spoon to use when and so on, as we dine on our natural resources.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Construction Site

My current work location is close to the site where a modern state-of-the-art national library is under construction. The construction workers seem happy as they lift heavy metal bars, work with the hammer and chat animatedly. However this is not without the watchful eyes of site – supervisors who are making regular site visits.

Today has been a very wet day in Nairobi, wishing we had some sunlight reserved from yesterday’s scorching sun. The construction workers have however been working in the rain, as if they don’t feel the raindrops. It got me thinking about their welfare and that of the supervisors.

Here is a construction company glad to execute a strategic project, but this cannot be done solely by machines. The company needs people on the ground who sometimes bear the brunt of the erratic weather conditions.

The more reasons why we should balance between the economic rights of a corporation and the social, economic, cultural and political rights of individuals so as to create a stable and just society. Soon the residents of Nairobi will have a modern library, but let us never forget the great effort of these joyful workers…

Have a warm day.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Balancing economic, social and political interests

Kenya’s vision 2030 has three main pillars, economic, social and political. On the economic front Kenya hopes to improve the prosperity of all Kenyans through economic growth of at least 10% annual growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Socially the country’s vision is to build a cohesive and equitable society. Lastly, politically Kenya hopes to have a democratic state based on issue based politics, rule of law, good institutional governance and protection of fundamental rights and freedoms for all Kenyans.

I am reading the vision document and was quite intrigued by the fact that we have pegged our prosperity to three main pillars. A balance of the three will therefore be critical. We can be truly prosperous if our economy grows rapidly and consistently, achieve social equity and have a stable democracy.

An institution or individual whose goal is to promote any of the three pillars should also keep a close eye on the other two pillars. For instance civil society should put the state to account on each of the three pillars. It is only by having a true balance of the three that we can ensure that every Kenyan enjoys the nation’s prosperity in a stable society.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

To all young aspiring entrepreneurs

Why we succeed at 20..

The 'Matatu' madness: What about business owners?

When operators of public service vehicles decided to strike, I was in the library studying a beautiful course - Financial Institutions and Markets, once in a while reading about successful entrepreneurs. A city that was alive with business activities was now spotting streams of people walking fast from their offices. That was 4pm. The following day, a Friday, 'furahi day' (happy day) many never turned up for work.

This then got me thinking what tremendous losses entrepreneurs have incurred as a result of lost man hours. What about our economy?

Thats why i advice before standing with a loud speaker claiming, your right...think about the rights of others and how they will be affected by your action. I do not say that we terolate violations or that we keep our problems to ourselves. But some caution and responsibility is required. This is the message leaders must promote.

I wish the many hardworking entrepreneurs who felt the impact of the strike, well and recovery in days and months to come.