Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Prepared for Monday?

Our beautiful country is going through a unique electioneering period. It is as new as the institutions manning the process to the roles and responsibilities of the various positions of leadership. It also comes at a time when Kenyans are more awakened and alive to political machinations applied by politicians to win votes. On a positive note, the elections have not affected the performance of the economy and a successful end will ensure that we are on the pathway to greater growth.

The other new reality is the possibility of the elections going into a runoff incase no candidate gathers a simple majority during the first round of elections. This is a phenomenon that may drag the electoral process to April/May depending on whether the first outcome is challenged in the Supreme Court. Of course we are all praying that the elections will be peaceful and we have an individual and corporate responsibility to ensure this happens. However these are without doubt the most uncertain times for businesses in Kenya. One is tempted to predict that once we successfully go though the elections, we shall remain unstoppable.

Although managers cannot accurately predict what will happen, they have to make a risk analysis. Here are a few tips that managers can apply in the short-term. Sort of do a best case and worst case scenario with the business in mind. This assessment should be done with both elections scenarios in mind that is, with or without a run off. Managers should then focus on the risk posed to the company’s operations in high risk areas. The risk posed to employees who work from high risk areas should also be considered. The possibility of employees seeking time off to deal with personal emergencies is also highly possible.

If a bulk of a company’s supplies are from high risk areas, adequate emergency measures should be put in place to ensure that there is no interruption in delivery of goods. Think of more insights we can give corporate managers?

Let’s work a peaceful election.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Are you complying?

In the February 2013 issue of the Management Magazine, i wrote an article on "Towards a culture of Compliance". The article speaks on the need for entrepreneurs, investors and business managers to appreciate the new business environment. You may ask, when did things change? The answer is, the Constitution. Read the full article for more.

Ever thought how you can balance business and politics?

Here is an opinion piece that i wrote for the Business Daily in Kenya...

Keep the balance.

Monday, February 18, 2013

No strike but Keep the carpet raised

Fnally teachers will not go on strike today. It is a good decision by the union. However it only gives the government time so they should not burry the matter under the carpet, so it must be raised.

The economic challenges and prospects of our nation should be a priority for the next government noting that expenditure will increase as a result of the new county governments act.

It will therefore be a government that will have to seriously balance many competing interests for the sake of present and future generations.

Friday, February 15, 2013

A strike? Who is fooling who: A thought for future generations

I have argued previously that for us to prosper as a nation, together, certain things must happen. Today i want to emphasize on one that i hold very dear. It is that rights come with responsibilities. Today it concerns the teachers strike that is scheduled to start next week (19 February 2013, as i write i think of my cousin 'Nimu' who is in class one in Itundu Primary school in Mathira Constituency on the slopes of mount Kenya.

Our purpose in this blog is to ensure that we live today, enjoying all privileges and rights, but withour compromising the interests of future generations.

Coming to my point, so teachers have a constitutional right to strike, but who cares about our pupils and students. Already the school year been interupted by virtue of last year's strike, today we are on the verge of another. On the other hand, i couldn't help but question, who between the gobernment and the teacher's union is fooling who?

In the book, of the month Business and Politics, Graham Wilson argues that it is critical for the government to provide leadership towards a balance between business and politics. Otherwise the economic environment will become to volatile that investors will shy away from the country.

For the sake of future generations and a stable economy, the government and the teacher's union must bring this matter to an objeclive closure.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Book of the Month

I am currently reading the third edition of the book:

'Business and Politics: A compatative Introduction', by Graham K. Wilson.

The book discusses the role of government in business. It analyses the extent to which governments are involved in private businesses and the various forms such involvement takes. It discusses the main roles of government in business that mainly include regulation and protection. In doing so it compares how various governments have done business with the private sector.

It has given me several insights into boing business with government.

Speaking of Kenya and election campaigns, business executives should keenly follow the policy recomendations by various aspirants for political office to determine how they are likely to influence businesses. The political ideology of for instance of a candidate will influence the way government interacts with business. I figured this out during the first ever presidential debate yesterday.


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Oily story of Shell and Nigerian farmers

A court in the Hague last week ruled that Shell Nigeria was only responsible for one out of five alleged oil spills. The farmers were very disappointed. But Shell carried the day mainly because it demonstrated the preventive or curative measures it took after the spills occurred.

This takes me to the issue of mitigating risks. Brief thought on this story. What measures are your businesses taking to minimize risks in the short-term and long-term?
See how story was reported by the New York times.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Mama Elvis: The 'Shed hotel business model'

Three days ago I had a meeting in an upmarket residence. It was refreshing as I enjoyed the scenery and the sight of men and women at work.

Then I came across a small market, along Ngong’ road and has a footpath that residents of Kibera to go to home. I was tired and decided to have a cup of tea and interact with the small business people working hard to make a living.

I ended up in a small shed (Kibanda) hotel where a woman was seated waiting for her customers. She was happy to see me and eagerly welcomed me. As I made my order and was served very fast. I enjoyed her service and warmness.

Our conversation centered on her work, the business model she has employed, her working hours, her clients and how business was doing. Lastly we talked about her son Elvis who is now 6 Months and 4 days old and who looked happy to see me talking to her mum. Please note that we never talked about our ethnic background where I stay or what each of us earns or even who we are supporting for the elections.

We just talked about the ‘Shed business model’. Here are lessons I believe businesses can learn from Mama Elvis;

a) Know your clients well. Mama Elvis knows that her clients are people working in the upmarket construction sites. She knows their likes and dislikes.

b) Customer service is key. I enjoyed the service Mama Elvis gave, she was warm and pleasant to talk to. I was a complete stranger yet we talked freely. So let your employees spare one or two king words for your clients, it builds relationship. Having a television set is not natural. Clients need a human touch.

c) Make the business environment condusive and attractive. The shed hotel (kibanda) was very clean and quiet, very peaceful and relaxing. Remember there was no air conditioning or plasma screens to watch the latest international news. It was as simple as can be.

d) Know your business model. Mama Elvis model is a ‘Shed Hotel’, nothing more nothing less.

e) Have the right motive. I believe that the primary reason why Mama Elvis wakes up every morning was to add value to her clients. To  ensure that they have enough energy to carry out their tough manual jobs.

f)  Lastly, lets do business for present and future generations. Elvis represents the next generation. It is important that we do ethical and clean business so that future generations have a place to live and earn a descent living.

Tomorrow I shall share some of the things that can be done to improve the ‘shed model’