Monday, January 28, 2013

The juice about Kenya's elections: Lesson for businesses

This year I have two good observations about the Kenyan election campaign. I call them juice since they are very refreshing.

The first juice is that despite the push by some politicians to play the ethnic card, there is every sign that Kenyans are now brighter and wiser. During the nominations, we saw Kenyans from across the country rejecting candidates who were not elected democratically. Kenyans, especially in rural areas, worked hard to ensure that the candidate who won their hearts and minds secured the party nomination. The ‘big boys’ in Nairobi had no control over the will and determination of rural folks. They tried granting direct nominations but failed in some cases. It shows that politics is about the people. It’s a bottom-up approach. I only hope that we shall not give politicians room to use the tribal card.

The second, juice relates to the real contest. What do I mean? In the past Kenyans have been made to believe that elections is a contest between ethnic tribes. Sadly, this notion is far from over. However, it is now emerging that elections is about the ability of leaders to understand the problems affecting the people and offering practical solutions to these problems. It is about the ability of citizens to live a dignified life, where they can access their basic needs with ease. It is about giving people an opportunity afford quality life. It is about justice and fairness for all despite our present circumstances.

For instance, we can have supper highways, yet a majority of our city residents cannot enjoy a better life. Only those with the ‘monies’ will benefit from the boom in property prices and this is not what Kenyans are looking for. A leader who is able to deliver quality life this will win our hearts, minds and ultimately, our votes.

On the same note a business that works to first win the hearts and minds of their customers will be very successful, I dare say. As we have always said on this blog, business (and now elections) is about people. It is about ensuring that present generations enjoy quality life and future generations have a world to live in.

Enjoy a glass of cold juice.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Vote for Me versus Corporate Social Investments

Its campaign time in Kenya. Politicians are out to seek our votes before March 4th. They are making all manner of promises “I will build roads, bridges, schools and hospitals” “I will ensure adequate provision of water and security, if only you elect me as your representative” “Do you see this problem, this is how I will solve it immediately you elect me in fact I will do it within the first one hundred days”. On and on they continue to make promises until the day we cast the ballot. We all know that many of the promises are never fulfilled.
Now I have been reading about how companies can engage in Corporate Social Investments. This is engaging in investments projects that transform the society and lead to permanent or long-term transformation within communities. This is opposed to Corporate Social Responsibility which is not long-term. 

Politicians will constantly fail us, yet the promises they make are good and admirable. One only wishes they were true to their word, our communities would be very prosperous. But we all know that wishes are not horses. 

I therefore believe that the promise rests upon corporate organizations taking up the challenge of investing in socially viable projects that will improve people’s living standards. Kenya for instance faces a recurrent problem of food shortage yet with proper irrigation, we can feed all Kenyans and even have surplus to export. A company can invest in community irrigation projects to make a contribution towards eradicate food shortage. 

For instance teenage pregnancies are a major problem in informal settlements within Nairobi. Well, rather than wait for the girls to deliver then move to help them, which is good, a company can invest in public education project targeting parents and teenage girls to ensure they understand and appreciate the dangers of underage pregnancies. The number of corporate social investments companies can engage in obviously outnumbers the promises made by politicians. I therefore believe that companies can make a major and significant contribution to society.

Again this will ensure that companies operate in a way that safeguards the interests of future generations. 

Have a responsible campaign period.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Barber Shop Innovator

This year I have always awed by a Barber Shop that keeps changing its outlook. The walls are painted very year and the set-up in the Barber is altered every now and then depending on customer needs. Recently the saloon owner has acquired the adjacent M-pesa (Mobile money service) shop and hired more employees to expand the business. Not forgetting that the entertainment keeps on changing for the better.

The employees in the Barber are always pleasant and they are conscious to keep the Barber Shop tidy and the surrounding environment clean. I am sure that I have not seen the last of the changes in the barber shop.
A small business that is big on innovation.

This year, corporations and professional service firms should endevour to embrace change. Innovation in all aspects of a business will help drive the impact they seek to have in society. It should not be business as usual otherwise we shall not have the much needed competitive edge in the market. The government should also embrace innovation to drive economic growth especially by supporting Smalll and Medium Enterprises.

Have an innovative year for the sake of present and future generations.