Thursday, May 28, 2009


This morning I was at Serena at 7.00 am to listen to perhaps one of the best economic orators I have ever listened to, the Group CEO of African Alliance, Tony de Castro.

What makes him such as interesting man to listen to is little tidbits of knowledge so humorously said that you can only concentrate through out the presentation. No fancy projectors with numbers and other impressive details, just him and the crowd, nice and easy.

So where are we, As African's in regards to the Global crisis? We have been affected no less, in the export market, commodities etc. But this creates space for us to rethink the way we do business, and make the best of this crisis (or in Obama speak not to waste a good crisis.)

2.5 trillion dollars is a lot of money to throw at the crisis, and as expected, stability checks in for the Americans. This does not mean the crisis is over. It’s like a shot of Morphine, whose effects only last a short while.

The underlying currents are still at play, and that is the greatest challenge.

We need to think Long term solutions. Think ahead. Think of tomorrow's generation.

One interesting example Tony had was this, as African parents, we understand the importance of a good education, even the most illiterate old fellow deep in the village knows that a good education is the way out of poverty.

But what happens after that: our Children get good degrees, either from abroad or top schools in the country, and then begin to hustle for a job, and end up finding jobs abroad and build other nations other than theirs. While in other markets, immediately after their first degree, a choice of jobs awaits, a mortgage plan (some that give 110% –to furnish a house, buy a car and begin life)

The latter creates a cycle that feeds itself, and this is what Africa needs to seriously study. Not necessarily one that offers a 110% mortgage scheme, but one that values every player within the cycle; From the Mortgage giver, to the construction company etc. This creates jobs and in turn creates sustainability, and the cycle grows on.

One other issue that ticked me was about our mindset: if tomorrow someone comes to you with this great idea of creating the largest housing company in Africa; it is African to laugh him off. And if he does go ahead and set it up, we say: he must be well connected. We need to get rid of this kind of thinking and move on. It is a lack of belief in our ability to succeed.

We need to think big, but mostly ensure our ideas degenerate into tangible projects.

We, Kenyans, are entrepreneurs by birth, it’s in our genes, we need to scale it up to another level, forget the government, forget the naysayer, look at the Big private sector players and think like them It’s takes a thought followed very closely by an action.

Google Nike for instance, the rest is history.

Let’s be brave enough to believe in ourselves

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