The Small Claims Court

A milestone towards achieving the ease of doing business in Kenya

The Small Claims court is a game-changer to the commercial sector in Kenya. With the introduction of this court, individuals being owed ksh 1 million and below have a reason to smile since they can quickly recover the sum through judgement and execution of orders from the Small Claims Court. This Court was established under the Small Claims Court Act of 2016 which has recently undergone several amendments. The court became operationalized early this year after being launched by the then Ag. Chief Justice Philomena Mbete Mwilu. This is a subordinate court in the structure of the court system under Article 169 (1) of the Constitution of Kenya. This court has a monetary jurisdiction of matters not exceeding Kshs 1 million. The judiciary has established the court as part of an initiative of creating the ease of doing business environment in Kenya. The move is set to attract small and medium scale investors into the Kenyan economy due to the assurance of a simple, inexpensive and expeditious commercial dispute resolution mechanism. 

The structure and the dispute resolution process is created in such a way that it enhances access to justice to all. The pleadings used to approach the court and response to claims filed before the court by the claimants are provided for under prescribed forms in the Rules of the Court hence no hustle of drafting complex documents as required in the other subordinate and superior courts. The settlement of disputes takes only 60 days hence expeditious enough to allow the litigants to proceed with their business without incurring unnecessary legal costs arising from lengthy litigation. It is therefore important for all business communities composing both local and foreign investors seeking to start up businesses in Kenya through any specials purpose vehicles for commercial transactions to be fully aware of the operations of the Small Claims Court. 

The main objective of this court is to guarantee the right of access to justice as envisioned under Article 48 of the Constitution of Kenya. The underlying values and objects of this court to the business community is the simplicity of procedure to the extent of making it easy for the litigants to represent themselves, timely disposal of suits, impartiality and fairness of the process. Litigants are not required to pay any court fees hence the court allows those who cannot afford legal costs to have equal access to justice. It, therefore, behoves everyone to be fully aware of the running and operations of the court for improved business transactions in the country.

Boaz Bwire | bwireboaz@gmail.com.
The writer is a Lawyer at Oundo Muriuki and Company Advocates.

Myths And Realities Of Teamwork

Authored by David Wright

Myths and Realities of Teamwork is a library of insights from a man who has spent thirty years building teams in organizations. Mr. David Wright focuses on Key milestones that mark a team’s journey to high performance without failing to not that there are myriad pitfalls and challenges on the way. He underscores that even in a very strong team environment, an individual’s needs cannot be ignored. Myths and realities of teamwork are explained objectively and in a realistic approach. For mature teams, the book gives bearing of what needs to be done in recapturing that early enthusiasm and respect that may have been witnessed when the team was new.

The most prominent myths about teamwork in David Wright’s book are six. The first myth is that teams are harmonious people. The reality is, teams are made of diverse people with specific needs to be met. Second is that team conflict is unhealthy, the reality is that conflict should be harnessed for common good rather than be suppressed. Third myth is that people like teamwork, Wright observes that some people like working solo while others are indifferent. Fourth Myth is that teamwork is essential for business success, in real sense some simple tasks need no teams and that teamwork only thrives in complexities. The fifth myth is that teams are easy to influence and manage, Wright notes that in reality teams require courage and high levels of personal awareness from its leaders. Lastly, it is a myth that senior managers encourage teamwork, the reality is that most senior managers are anxious about teamwork and the potential loss of power or control.

The Irish writer and alumnus of Trinity College in Dublin suggests twelve milestones that must be achieved in a fruitful journey of a team. The twelve include; burying myths and raising realities, understanding organization culture and team’s potential starting point, establishing team goals and vision, establishing ground rules for effectiveness, meeting skills and positive contributions, recognizing the team processes, developing team skills that will aid success, defining the team roles beyond pure functional roles and predicting future success or failure, understanding empowerment and its place, having level of openness and trust, embracing high performance and understanding the practice of leadership for all. David Wright acknowledges that building an effective team is akin to taking a journey and members of the team must experience the journey together.

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

A Team That Plays Together, Wins Together

Team Building through Lenses of Vincent the Trainer

My best days in organizations that I have worked with before are those when we went out to play. Playing together as a team does magic in how we relate with one another, how we perceive work and the potential we realize in ourselves. Whether it is in a room somewhere or out in the natural environment, well-organized team building delivers many positive returns in uniting colleagues into one family. It is a sure approach in promoting working relationships that are needed in getting things done. Team building events can be coupled with training sessions where other disciplines like planning, time management, effective communication and resilience are taught. These sessions can also be utilized to promote the desired organizational culture or simply to break the ice between senior staff members and their juniors. 

In a world where people want more leisure and less work, organizations need to find a way of making work interesting. Making work interesting is a journey. First is forming interested teams, then creating a winning atmosphere in the team. This will take a well-thought plan to execute. A professional team-building trainer will help you identify the right venue, relevant activities to be done, share key-note motivational talks during the team building event and play the master of ceremonies role throughout the sessions. In most cases, a team-building trainer with sufficient experience in the profession tends to meet diverse goals of team building when involved from planning stage. Surprisingly, a trainer may end up helping to cut costs by playing a liaison role in securing venues, public address systems and related logistics that may apply in different forms of team building.

One of the best team building trainers of our days is Mr Vincent Ochembo who is known as Vincent The Trainer (VTT) in the industry. Vincent is a multi-talented team-building trainer based in the Coastal City of Mombasa. According to Vincent, a team that plays together wins together. He has previously hosted teams from different organizations including Government, NGOs, Parastatals, Corporations and Small groups as an MC and as a team-building expert. On his Facebook timeline, Vincent Ochembo posts some of the activities that he gets the teams to do and the venues where he has hosted team-building activities. He is reachable via ochembovincent2014@gmail.com. Vincent is the founder and lead trainer at PLC LTD.

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 

Humanized Digital Experience In Business

Hosted By The Financial Brand On August 2021.

The financial brand is an online publication that focuses on marketing and strategy which aims at delivering ideas and insights on a white range of issues involving the retail banking industry today.

The Webinar presenters were Kris Frantzen (VP Product Strategy Temenos), Joseph Pellissery (CIO Wescom Credit Union) and Jim Marous (Owner Digital Banking Report). Together they took turns to describe the paradigm shift that is being experienced in the digital market where it is no longer all about technology alone but investment in the consumers’ emotions too. While COVID-19 pandemic increased the technological demand of business transactions it also increased the expectations of the experience. The three presenters agreed that the best digital experience happens when it is humanized; that calls for communication and involvement. Forums need to evolve and become more interactive than ever before.

Although the webinar majorly focused on transforming the banking business, the ideas discussed can be applied in any other kind of business that desires to bring human experience to the digital realm. Seven key elements of digital transformations were highlighted:

1. Use data and advanced analytics to drive decisions and engagement.

2. Simplify all engagements. “Satisfaction is now determined by simplicity, speed and empathy as opposed to a friendly face” Jay Baer, founder of convincing and converting.

3. Foster an innovative mindset- it distinguishes a leader from a follower

4. Invest in modern technologies.

5. Create new back-office processes 

6. Re-skill and retrain the workforce; hire for skill, not just academic qualification 

7. Provide digital leadership

The three presenters particularly emphasized the element of simplicity when it comes to the transaction of business. This is important as consumers want “everywhere anytime” engagement; hence speed simplicity and empathy is the new convenience. Simplicity helps a consumer to enjoy one stop complete experience since services have been summarized and integrated to fit their needs as customers. 

Finally, Humanized Digital Experience involves being interested in establishing a relationship with your customer as this helps to reap a harvest of loyalty irrespective of any challenges that may come along the way. In other words, what each customer is saying is “show me you know me.” This calls for shifting technology from being product-centric to being member-centric. This can be achieved by pursuing to make each experience personable and memorable. Business should never be a matter of what you sell but whom you serve- Bob Farrrel. 

By Esther W. Njaramba

The writer is a Counselling Psychology graduand from Kenyatta University who works with individuals and groups to see to it that they lead satisfying and happy lives׀njarambaesther3@gmail.com 

Blood Type Diet: Does It Work?

Is there a diet for a particular blood group? Do blood types; A, B, or O, chemically interact with particular nutrients in food? And do specific foods for particular blood types get easily digested, aid in weight loss, and help prevent diseases? These are the inquiries made over the years concerning this diet.

A blood type diet is a plan that assumes specific dietary recommendations based on one’s blood group and limits consumers to eating foods that are harmonious with their blood type. These diets have been in existence for more than two decades now. This idea was created by naturopath physician, Dr Peter J.D A’demo in the year 1996. In his book ‘’eat right for your type’’ he claims that there are diets and exercise regimens based on blood group systems. These diets are endorsed as programs to ensure adequate digestion, facilitate weight loss, and improve health.

Blood type diet Plate

Dr Peter claims that each blood type represents genetic traits of our ancestors, including which diet they evolved to flourish. He outlines that each blood group should eat as below; 

Type A: ”Agrarian or cultivator diet”. Eat a meat-free diet rich in plants closely resembling a vegetarian diet.

Type B: Nomad diet. Eat plants, dairy and most meats except chicken and pork. Avoid wheat, corn, lentils, tomatoes, and a few other foods.

Type AB: Enigma diet. Made of types A and B. Includes; seafood, tofu, dairy, beans, and grains. Avoid kidney beans, corn, beef, and chicken.

Type O: Hunter Diet. A high-protein diet encompassing meat, fish, poultry, certain fruits, and vegetable. Limited in grains, legumes, and dairy.

Dr Peter also claims that Yoga and Ti Chi are good exercises for Type A and aerobics like jogging and biking are good for type Os. 

The scientific evidence behind Blood type diets is negligible.

Research shows the increased vulnerability of certain blood types to particular diseases e.g the ABO association with Pancreatic Ca, venous thromboembolism and myocardial infarction. However, there is also no evidence that adherence to blood type diets will provide health benefitsAdvertised health benefits are therefore theoretical and not supported by scientific evidence.

Despite blood type diets prompting some level of efficiency by omitting the majority of unhealthy processed foods from people’s diet, they do not address particular health conditions and following a particular pattern may also risk the consumer to nutrient deficiencies. 

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

An Overview Of Kenya’s Art Industry

Art is a rich sector with potential to create employment to many youths and women across all cultures. In this column I will highlight some of the prominent sub-sectors in art, possible returns at an average scale and rate at which opportunities for selling artwork come. The eight most prominent industries in the sector of art include; craft industry, performing arts, designer fashions, photography, music industry, interior design, visual art and film. Some of these sub-sectors are complex while others are simple and less sophisticated yet each has its unique dynamics.

In the music industry, an average musician in Kenya is likely to record music every six months, get a gig at least once a month and earn averagely Kes.50,000 per gig. The average musician is likely to use live performances and side hustles to make ends meet as recording alone may not generate sufficient revenues to sustain them. On the other hand, an interior designer takes about two assignments a month and charge a fee ranging from Kes.80,000 to Kes.300,000 per assignment. Most interior designers work freelance or get hired by real estate companies.

Visual artists work in small teams, they open studios and sell paintings at a fee ranging from Kes.500 to Kes.150,000. They participate in competitions and market their art work online. Similarly, film makers work in larger teams of about 30 to 300 people but take longer to release a production. Film making requires large investments and involves complex work. A project is likely to cost an average of Kes.1,500,000 and take seven to eighteen months producing. Photographers work freelance and get gigs almost weekly. They are prominent on instagram and earn between Kes.40,000 to Kes.80,000 per month. They show up in events, photo shoots and adventure safaris. Some own studios.

The craft industry is largely associated with women from rich cultural backgrounds in rural parts of the country. They work cooperatively in groups, they make objects of craft such as baskets and sell them at very low prices. Youths are prominent in fashion design where they run labels with a network of tailors for their designs. Their sales are highly dependent on seasons and rely heavily on social media to advertise. Product pricing depends on their brands and they like participating in competitions. Art is a large sector but not without challenges especially in mobilizing capital, remaining competitive and appropriately pricing products of art.

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

Inflation Is The Remedy For Unemployment

Jimnah Mbaru, a renowned investment banker working with Dyer and Blair provoked a discussion this month on twitter when he tweeted, “The Central Bank of Kenya should reduce the current cash ratio from 4.5% to 0%.” He argued that this measure will result into increased liquidity within banks with a reduced cost of credit. In Jimnah Mbaru’s view, banks would increase lending to private sector at lower interest rates. The investment banker is of the opinion that the existent threat of inflation with such a fiscal policy is not a concern at the moment.

I find Jimnah Mbaru’s opinion to be good for a country that is grappling with a high rate of unemployment. When the mission is to fix unemployment of both people and resources, inflation becomes of less concern. The Philips Curve in economics proves this by displaying inflation and unemployment as indirectly proportional variables when placed on the Cartesian plane. However, the educated opinion of Jimnah Mbaru received sufficient criticism from other scholars and public intellectuals in Kenya. Of top concern is whether commercial banks will utilize available cash to lend to the private sector. This question is raised in the backdrop of a trend where commercial banks in Kenya lend largely to the government of Kenya. To lend to the national government would not be inappropriate if government utilized the funds in capital resources other than repayment of external debts that have fallen due.

Dr. David Ndii in response to Jimnah Mbaru’s opinion posed a rhetoric, “a monetary stimulus over and above an 8% of GDP budget deficit or a stimulus running for close to a decade?” While Jimnah Mbaru applies theory of the Philip’s Curve in economics to solve the unemployment question, it remains a paradox how structural productivity problems, external shocks related to Covid-19, crowding out, debt overhang and political uncertainty will be solved by increasing supply of money in the economy through lowering central bank’s current ratio from 4.5% to 0%. A balance between inflation and unemployment needs to be sought where measures taken to reduce unemployment do not adversely affect inflation. The buck stops with the Central Bank Governor, Dr. Patrick Njoroge who also chairs the Monetary Policy Committee.

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

Re-Defining Global Industry Leadership-Mary Barra

At Fifty-Nine years old, it is curious to find that Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors (GM), has only ever worked at one company. Hers is a very unique career path, meandering through functions like Operations, Human Resource and Management at various levels. She has earned her spot in several leadership classes as a reference point for young upcoming global leaders and is an encouragement to current industry leaders. The big question at this point is, what exactly makes her stand out and why does she keep going?

Mary joined General Motors as a co-operative education student in 1980 at Eighteen years old. Five years after finishing her degree in electrical engineering, she received her MBA from Stanford University in 1990. She then went on to hold positions such as: Vice President of Global Manufacturing Engineering; Executive Vice President of Global Product Development and Vice President of Global Human Resources. It may seem that she kept gaining skills that would be helpful, even critical in her current position, but that is only in hindsight.

In every position Barra found herself in, her drive was being thoroughly accountable for what she was entrusted with. Healthy work environments were fostered wherever she went and her ability to easily adapt enabled her to make necessary adjustments when it came to it. As the head of HR, she reduced the long dress code to two words: ‘Dress Appropriately’! She would also allow junior managers and co-workers to make independent decisions as pertaining their responsibilities. In this way, she believed that she was empowering and allowing them to be responsible.

One might say that Barra’s leadership abilities have been tested in crisis. In 1998, there was a GM strike, and Barra was appointed the Internal Communications Director. With her leadership style, there was a forum where information could flow up and down the hierarchy and situations could be dealt with up-front. After her appointment as CEO, disaster struck again. A faulty ignition switch led to deaths and recalls of over 30 million cars. She faced the situation head-on, admitting errors made, laying off workers, appearing before the senate and adjusting policies to enable early reporting of problems. Instead of drowning in chaos, she was able to rise by putting lives first and by her own motto, being accountable enough.

We, alongside millions of people, will continue watching and learning as Mary Barra revolutionizes leadership globally.

Purity Buyanzi | The writer is an aspiring Financial Analyst, passionate about leadership and mentorship | puritybuyanzi@gmail.com