ART OF WAR

Authored By Sun Tzu

The universality of this book makes it a must-read. It explains the essential point and tactics in a war that can be utilized to face our day-to-day challenges. Although it was written 2500 years ago it remains to be the most influential book in military strategy and its application is way beyond the military field. It teaches both strategic and leadership qualities to look out for no matter what you do.

The business environment being a modern war fair, some of the insights in this book can be applied by a business leader. Art of war teaches us to lay down plans and rely not on the likelihood of the enemies not coming but on our readiness. This entails knowing yourself and your enemies; who are you dealing with, their strength and weakness.  The more knowledge you have about something or someone the better you get.

Money and lives are finite so they are not to be used recklessly don’t burn resources or kill soldiers that may give you information, use whatever resource you have wisely. Attack him when he is unprepared and appears where you are not expected. Avoid what is strong and attack what is weak. Always wait for the opportune moment when you can fight. You can win wars without having to battle.

To win in business, it’s all about strategy and planning. A good general seeks victory and not a battle, attack their enemies’ point of weakness, the plan remains secret, your army obeys, you communicate effectively, find a weakness of your men and strengthen them and know where to follow and when to fight. If your victory is a clear fight, don’t seek fame and fear blame, if your defeat is certain do not fight.

Knowing yourself and understanding war can make you conquer any business niche and win. I conclude my review by quoting Sun Tzu, the author of Art of War when he said, “To win hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.”

Effie Odhiambo

The writer is a finance professional with passion in reading books that make difference in an entreprenuers career. | odhiambo1270@gmail.com

AFFORDABLE TECHNOLOGY FOR KEEPING YOUR ROOF CLEAN

We all love to feel good about the sweet scent, the warmth of family, and the marvel of architecture that makes our homes. Whenever we arrive, we are greeted by a first impression that is often a blend of buildings and vegetation. The impression goes a long way in determining the quality of life we lead in our homes. In this feature, we have observed that best impressions are inspired by clean walkways, pavements, roofs, walls, and lawns. Without shouting, a clean home promotes relaxation of the mind and adds happiness to life. In Nairobi, a cleaning firm led by Mr. Brian Ogutu has realized the role that cleanliness plays in making a home. The Nairobi-based firm, Clean Roof Masters, offers cleaning services for exterior surfaces of buildings using a simple pressure-pump technology fused with a skilled workforce. This has helped Brian and his team to avail quality roof, wall, and pavement cleaning services to their growing list of customers at affordable rates.

If the clay tiles or iron sheets covering your house have become less attractive over time or if the gutters that help you harvest rainwater are clogged, Clean Roof Masters has invented a solution for you. You need not replace the roof. A thorough cleaning is sufficient to restore the brightness that sparkled on your roof as when it was new. Clean Roof Masters also deals in the cleaning of water tanks, chimneys, pavements, walkways, walls, and drainage systems. The firm has employed the use of social media to connect with its customers. Its YouTube and Facebook platforms showcase its previously undertaken cleaning exercises through short illustrative videos.

What can be more attractive in a home than a clean roof over your head? Don’t we all want chimneys with no cobwebs, neat walkways and driveways, functioning drainage systems, and gutters with no blockages? Perhaps it costs a big chunk of money to build or buy that house, but to maintain its exterior beauty only needs a phone call to Clean Roof Masters. Email via cleanroofmasters@gmail.com or call +254 7 12 637 697 / +254 778 704 379. The business of clean roof masters is making yours shine and that doesn’t have to cost you more than a bar of chocolate for every square foot that you need to be cleaned.

Rick Okinda                                        

The writer is a Certified Accountant working with small business owners to deliver business plans that serve their management and financial needs. | rickokinda@gmail.com

CUSTOMER ACQUISITION, MANAGEMENT, AND RETENTION

Hosted By KCB Biashara Club On 7th January 2021.

The webinar aimed at equipping entrepreneurs with tactics needed to acquire customers, manage and retain them within the organization. It identified customers as critical people in generating sales that earn the business revenue. To ensure customers are well served, a business needs to adopt processes that help one to serve customers, optimize costs and manage cash flows.  These processes need to be executed through people who have the appropriate skills to serve the customer.

The journey of customer acquisition begins with employing the right sales tactics, then recruiting customers. Recruitment of customers helps you to populate the customer database. You will need to develop skills and capabilities to handle customer databases and customer relationships. To have an efficient team, you will need to reward and remunerate them so that they can deliver great customer service. This team should be organized and given effective management and coaching for performance. A sales team that is motivated and focused on productivity should also be constituted and supported with well-outlined forecasts and plans.

In conclusion, the presenter emphasized that in building a customer-focused organization one needs to appreciate their customers and the people employed to serve the customer. The summarized lifecycle of customer relationships starts with the acquisition and retention of profitable customers. Winning back customers who are in the database but have not made purchases for a certain period and engaging them so that they can be active consumers of your goods or services. For customers who have turned out to be non-profitable, you need to up-sell additional products in a solution offered to them, cross-sell other products to the customer and ensure they are satisfied at consumption. Ask for referrals from your satisfied customers and reduce service and operation costs to widen profit margins.

Rick Okinda                                         The writer is a Certified Accountant working with small business owners to deliver business plans that serve their management and financial needs. | rickokinda@gmail.com

PROTECTING BREASTFEEDING; A SHARED RESPONSIBILITY

World Breastfeeding Week 2021

World breastfeeding week has been monumentalized every 1st week of August since 1990.  This year’s theme was; Protect breastfeeding; a shared responsibility. This advocacy is an initiative by WHO and UNICEF to create a consensus that supports, promotes, and protects breastfeeding because it is the best nutrition tool for the growing baby. The World Alliance Breastfeeding Action (WABA) stated that this year’s objective was geared towards informing people about the importance of protecting breastfeeding, anchoring breastfeeding support, engaging with individuals and organizations for greater impact, and galvanizing action on protecting breastfeeding to improve public health.

Benefits.

Breastfeeding is beneficial for both the infant and the mother. Breast milk protects newborns from infections, improves immunity, facilitates optimal growth and development, and cushions babies against chronic diseases like diabetes later in life. On the other hand, breastfeeding mothers are less likely to develop ovarian and breast cancer, easily lose their postpartum weight, and regain their normal shape. After birth, it is recommended to exclusively breastfeed a baby during the first six months and then continue with complementary feeding, until 24 months or longer, if it suits both mother and baby.

Support.

Partners can help mothers with the domestic workload as well as with the caring of the baby. Doing hands-on with activities such as baby bathing, changing diapers, burping, shopping, and meal preparations, and helping out on house chores is a great form of support. At the workplace, it’s important to create an enabling environment such as implementing the maternity and paternity leave policy, providing lactating and/or milk expression rooms, and being breastfeeding cheerleaders etcetera. International Labour Organization (ILO) has passed three maternity conventions including paid maternity leave (which recommends 18 weeks) which undoubtedly allows mothers to exclusively breastfeed. Fewer countries have ratified it so far and it remains a challenge for women working in the informal sector because of the high risk of losing their jobs.

Protection.

To protect breastfeeding, the regulatory measures regarding maternal leave policies, workplace support, ban of formula milk marketing, and implementation of baby Friendly hospital initiatives (BFHIs) must be fully adopted and implemented. The implementation of leave policies by Sweden, the ban of formula milk marketing by Bangladesh, and the implementation of BFHIs by some countries are a few milestones to realizing this agenda. In Kenya, the milk breast milk bank in Pumwani hospital is a way to protecting and enabling breastfeeding to some degree. 

Argwings Chagwira Muliro

The writer is a nutrition and wellness professional who is focused on conducting detailed nutrition consultations and creating personalized meal plans to meet the needs of his clients | am.chagwira@gmail.com

CASE FOR FUNDING FOOD PRODUCTION IN KENYA

The agricultural sector is the least funded sector in Kenya despite being the largest in terms of GDP contribution (at over 50% GDP contribution, directly and indirectly,). With an estimated 8.5 million people in Kenya engaged in some form of agriculture, the choice of capital to finance agricultural activities has been solely left to credit institutions, thus limiting a farmer’s choices, forcing him to put up with the sale of assets, alternative incomes and social networks. Inadequacy of financing tools in aspects such as inputs, working capital, and mechanization leads to inefficiency in the value chain and thus resulting into chronic food shortages.

Take the example of maize farming in Kenya. This is mainly done by small-scale farmers across the nation without any profound distinction, a second example is a livestock in the Northern parts of the country. Sales occur through local markets with only a small percentage going through cooperatives. Financing agriculture subsectors would cause a boost in the reorganization of the agricultural field, with quality and quantity yields being a bargaining chip for higher sales and more money for farmers.

Kenya is ripe for fresh modeling of agricultural financing to incentivize both financiers and farmers to take on investment risks. For starters, there’s a need to establish a framework to assist vulnerable and rural smallholder farmers to reduce risk and increase investment in their farms. Through strong partnerships and innovative insurance products, farmers can manage controllable risks and are supported through insurance when disaster strikes. There’s a need for a stronger public sector presence in the agricultural sector through rural finance in avenues such as agribusiness and providing utilities while also offering loans and related services at competitive prices to farmers.

Farmers will adopt diverse agricultural practices, stagger planting over time, plant resilient crops, and have multiple sources of income to mitigate the risks associated with losses to their livelihoods. While these methods may offer some sort of resilience, factors such as climate change, natural disasters, and pest infestations can leave farmers with no hope for financial recovery, driving them deeper into poverty.

With the agricultural sector being among the first to be devolved to county governments, food security has once again been put at the forefront of the nation’s agenda. Agriculture would be an important sector in the alleviation of poverty therefore stringent measures on financing the sector would go a long way in achieving recovery and growth in Kenya after recent years of drought and slow development.

Paul Oreje

The writer is a final year commerce student at Kenyatta University | pauloreje1996@gmail.com   

POVERTY AND TRUE AID.

Why Aid to the Poor Should Aim At Freeing Them from Poverty

What does it mean to be a Kenyan? And not just any other Kenyan but a poor Kenyan. What chance does a poor person have in life?  Born into poverty, hungry from birth, angry and confused. About 35.5% of Kenyan citizens live below the poverty line. If you are constantly struggling financially, you are not middle class, you are poor. The middle class is not a living condition, not a profession, it is the amount of disposable income, not the income you had before you paid your rent, mortgage, and other utility bills.

Poverty makes one gullible, it robs one of the free wills to make independent choices. It prompts one to make irrational and extreme decisions which may have not been the case if the circumstances were different.  Because of this gullibility, the poor are often used as scapegoats by greedy politicians and corporates to foster their sinister agenda. What if we abandon the habits of reducing the poor into scapegoats and we take our time to find out, which kind of help they need. What if we try to understand their lives, complexity and richness? Is there not an alternative way to approaching poverty without necessarily creating class differences?

The rich play to win, the poor play to survive. The rich amass more wealth by investing more, the poor on the other hand sees surplus as an opportunity for consumption rather than investing. It is not enough to mobilize funds for the poor, we need an economic mindset that emancipates the poor from the mindset that surplus is all about consumption.

We need to find better approaches to solving poverty. Taxing the rich isn’t a solution either, we cannot afford to penalize parts of the society for their efforts in the economic playfield. A tax system cannot be structured around the concept of wealth redistribution alone.

We ought to move from an end in itself to a means to an end. If you want to help a poor person, give him the means to be able to help himself next time without necessarily running to you. ‘Those who come with wheat, millet, corn are not helping us. Those who want to help us should give us plows, tractors, fertilizers, insecticides, watering cans, drills, and dams’  that is how Thomas Sankara defines food aid.  He who feeds you controls you, let’s give the poor their freedom by offering true aid.

Daisy Tum

Writer is an economics student at Kenyatta University | daisytum7991@gmail.com

A PORTRAIT OF INTELLECT IN BUSINESS LEADERSHIP- Alvin Mbugua

In August 2021, Diageo PLC, a British multinational alcoholic beverage company with operations across the globe, appointed Alvin Mbugua to the position of General Manager in the Caribbean and Central American region. Mr. Mbugua, a Kenyan with experience of over seventeen years in the oil and gas, logistics, and FMCG sectors is rising to the apex of his career with this appointment. Alvin Mbugua has been the Managing Director of Uganda Breweries Limited which is a subsidiary of East African Breweries Limited, EABL. Other key positions held by this corporate titan at Uganda Breweries Limited include Head of Sales and the post of Finance and Strategy Director. He also served as the Group Financial Controller for EABL, Chief Finance Officer for East and Horn of Africa at Damco, and a Chief Finance Officer at Shell Tanzania where he started as a Systems Financial Consultant.

The successful career of Mr. Alvin Mbugua is built on a backdrop of key academic qualifications. He went to some of Africa’s best business schools and ventured into disciplines that sharpened his acumen for enterprise development and leadership. Alvin Mbugua graduated from the University of Nairobi with a bachelor’s degree in Geospatial Engineering and later pursued ACCA, Accounting, and Finance at Strathmore Business School in Nairobi. He is also a holder of Masters in Commerce in Development Finance from the University of Cape Town, a qualification that has given him sufficient capacity to work as a top business executive in leading companies.

In the words of Alvin’s former colleague at Damco, Mr. Mehul Bhatt, “Alvin is a leader, and a fantastic one at that. He is focused, extremely positive, and a fantastic change agent. His understanding of the business coupled with his strategic mindset and his ability to inspire his team is extraordinary.” It is rare to come across someone with such a unique combination of intellect, drive and influence that Alvin Mbugua possesses. Alvin Mbugua’s appointment to the position of General Manager in the Caribbean and Central American region at Diego PLC places him on the global league of business executives of our times. He is not only a portrait of intellect in business leadership but also an inspiration to young African professionals who dream to participate in international business.

Rick Okinda                                        

The writer is a Certified Accountant working with small business owners to deliver business plans that serve their management and financial needs. | rickokinda@gmail.com

LIBERATION OF TELECOM AND MOBILE MONEY OPERATION IN AFRICA

When news came in that Africa’s second most populated country was liberalizing its telecommunication market, everyone seemed interested. This liberalization, as termed by MTN Group, seemed to be the world’s last and largest telco liberalizations in world history. The privatization involved issuing two private telecommunication licenses as well as selling a minority stake in the state-controlled Ethio Telecoms. True to this, Africa’s largest telecoms teamed up with financiers with deep pockets to snap up one of the two licenses. Then came the shocker, the operating license did not include mobile money service. The license’s attraction diminished, leaving two major contenders, a consortium led by MTN and that led by Safaricom.

As things stand, Safaricom was issued with the first license after parting with $850 million. MTN’s bid was turned down, having bid $500million. The state monopoly embarked on its mobile money segment, Telebirr netting in more than one million subscribers in its first week. To sweeten the bid for the remaining license, Ethiopia has incorporated the mobile money service. This as communicated by the communication ministry, will also be included in Safaricom’s initial bid. As we await more competitive and possibly higher bids, the country has also invited bids for minority interests in its state-owned telecom, Ethio Telecom. The interested bidders in this line have been Orange and Etisalat.

To evaluate how lucrative mobile money is to African telecoms, we shall look at key developments in the continent. Kenya prides itself as the pioneer of mobile money business on the continent and the world. In 2019, Vodacom and its associate, Safaricom, bought the M-PESA brand, product development, and support services from Vodafone. The Mpesa brand’s value is estimated at $15.6bn when compared to multiples at which Airtel sold.

In 2021, Airtel Africa embarked on selling minority stakes in its Mpesa division attracting investors (Mastercard & TPG) bringing in a total of $300million. This has valued the enterprise at $2.65bn as it looks to sell a total of 25% stake.

Therefore, mobile money is an essential component for any telecommunication company in Africa going forward. With this in mind, the value of mobile money for telcos such as Vodacom has not been fully reflected in its shares when compared to Safaricom whose share has been on an upward trend since its listing. Something worth noting is that telcos eye improving their mobile money market shares since investment costs are low compared to other segments such as home internet and communication towers.