Wednesday, 3 September 2014

On Startups and Entrepreneurs: The misuse of tech

In today's digital/social / mobile / local world, startups, entrepreneurs and people in general have interesting issues thanks to the misuse of tech out here.

Why interesting? 

1. A guy would rather set up a feedback form or survey online than going out to meet his customers- if you can't meet them call them! CTRL - ALT - DEL and step out 

2. You don't believe you can make money without being on web & mobile platforms- take a step back to understand what problem you're solving and for who and why they need it to survive. That's for M-watus building m-vitus 

2. Instead of asking users what they need or like or enjoy using, your hacker is pushing out lines of code adding new features - ask people what they want and develop just that in a month. And get PAID 

3. You need a responsive website, 3 versions of the app and some SMS thingy before launching this revolutionary idea - The truth is, you will never launch it and nobody will steal your idea:-)

4. You have accounts on all SNSes but you're ever busy to post great content regularly - social media is not the silver bullet - entry is free, but you pay to play. Do much more to win! The internet is like a mall - if you want to get a slice of that digital foot traffic there's more work cut out for you.

5. Instead of attending an event to network, entrepreneurs show up behind a desktop and follow it on Twitter - nothing will ever replace that feeling & physical presence in a room full of seemingly cool strangers.

6. You Skype the guy seated next to you - email exchanges full of buzzwords -just talk to each other I beg ooh- to ensure you're all walking in the same direction.

Am just trying to say this, tech is an enabler and you can perhaps do much more without it.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Dear Entrepreneurs, here's why you need to keep financial records.

Dear Entrepreneurs,
If you're thinking of raising funding (Debt, Grant or Equity Financing) for your business in future, it's wise to start keeping records the moment you start making revenue.
Simple accounting records and statements/evidence will really come in handy when interested investors/ partners do their due diligence on your business operations.
Why am I saying this? Lotsa entrepreneurs out here have viable businesses and need funds to expand but they do not have records. Why? The sole proprietor/ director/s run the entity from their wallets in cash. Nothing to show who paid for what and where the money went because over 75% of the money moves around in cash.
Have some structures, systems and guidelines - corporate governance manenos. This will save you headaches in future, get you better valuation and thus more favourable deal/s.
Ni hayo tu.

Monday, 7 July 2014

GrowthAfrica’s Sixth Accelerator Takes off with 13 Agribusinesses

After such a successful GrowthAfrica Agribusiness incubator in quarter one of 2014, we are thrilled to announce that 13 confirmed start-ups joined our agribusiness accelerator which kicked off on July 4th 2014 till October.
Agriculture is the backbone of Kenya’s economy and provides livelihood, employment and generates income for over 75 % of the Kenyan population. The sector is among the key drivers envisaged to deliver the 10% annual economic growth stipulated in the Economic Pillar of Vision 2030. Currently, agriculture directly represents 26 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) and another 25 percent indirectly through its linkages with manufacturing, distribution and service industries in Kenya.
However the growth of the agriculture sector is slowed down by huge challenges faced by small holder farmers, large businesses and key actors in the agriculture value chain that require sustainable solutions through scalable for profit enterprises.
The 13 start-up teams will get the chance to work with a carefully selected group of experienced facilitators, successful mentors and access to investors from all around the world for a chance to raise funds for investments, network with peers and key industry players.
Apart from the 16 in house workshops at our hub on different aspects of the business, we will also host experienced professionals to share their expertise on topical issues to help the entrepreneurs grow their enterprises and scale to the next level.
“The accelerator program has a particular focus on growing operations of the start-ups and scaling the impact of social enterprises,” said Patricia Jumi, the Managing Director of GrowthAfrica. “ This is really an impressive crew of Kenyan entrepreneurs building for profit enterprises solving challenges in different agriculture value chains across the country and East Africa.”

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Call for Applications: GrowthAfrica Agribusiness Accelerator Programme 2014

Are you an entrepreneur in agribusiness? If yes, then this is a great opportunity for you to get investment and mentorship. The growthhub is running a program called the agribusiness accelerator program where it targets entrepreneurs in the agribusiness sector looking to grow/accelerate their businesses. The growthhub has had previous such programs which have been successful with entrepreneurs raising over $30 Million deal flow.

So, what is the program all about? The program is an 18-20 week long program that seeks to bring together entrepreneurs in the agribusiness sector, train them on ways to improve their businesses (supply chain, market analysis etc) as well as get funding.
Who should apply? Entrepreneurs in agribusiness should apply. There are several categories businesses should fall under. This does not however include farmers who only plant and sell produce, some level of value addition should be available.
The core team should be working full time in the company
The product should be already launched and have customers in Kenya and revenue generated. The amount does not really matter. So ideas do not qualify. Having customers shows proof of concept.
You are in need of venture capital and resources to grow and scale your business to the next level.
The cartegories include:
Companies that increase income generation for farmers
  1. As suppliers to their value chain (out-grower components)
  2. As agents/distributors of their products/services
  3. As employees (seasonal or part-time)
Agro-processing businesses
  1. Where value addition locally/regionally is increased/improved
  2. Where uptake from local/regional farmers is increased or done at better unit prices
Agriculture Tech Start-ups
  1. That improve farmers access to information, inputs, services and markets
  2. That improve farming efficiency and output of crop yields, livestock etc
  3. Improved services and products (farm inputs) for farmers
Training & education
  1. Financial solutions (credit, insurance, mobile transactions) for farmers
  2. Improved quality or affordability, e.g. to agronomic practices, extension services
  3. Agribusinesses that improve the logistical infrastructure towards farmers
For improved efficiencies in distribution of farm inputs and products
  1. For easier uptake by markets of farm outputs
  2. Adoption of “modern” farming practices & products
 Businesses in the Agriculture Value chain that improve food security
  1. Encouraging use of new crops or new applications of traditional crops
  2. Business ideas that focus on improved nutrition and a healthy food culture
 Innovations in Agribusiness
  1. Organic products
  2. Fair-trade schemes
  3. Irrigation technologies & solutions
For the 2014 program, the deadline is on the 31st of May. After closing date, applications will be reviewd and those who have made it through the first stage will be contacted for a one on one interview to discuss the business in detail. A total of 15 startups will be admitted into the program that will run for 16-18 weeks where they will be helped to develop their businesses in many ways including getting mentors and funding. Entrepreneurs ill however have to be present for all the sessions except when really necessary. A team can have upto 3 team members attending the sessions. This Is to ensure commitment of the entrepreneur to his/her business Businesses. A lot of emphasis is made on commitment. A commitment fee of KSH 30,000 is charged to entrepreneurs. This catters for curriculum materials, and meals which are provided during the program. The money can be paid at a later date or over a long period of time. This is strictly a show of commitment. They can raise funds from other investors worldwide so funding opportunities are limitless.
I would advice everyone in the agribusiness sector to apply. Remeber the deadline is 31st May 2014
Check out some of the agribusiness ventures that got funding here
Interested entrepreneurs can apply here

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Marriage Bill: Are polyandrous unions are a good idea?

Should ladies fight for this?

Women should also be allowed to have two husbands- if the second one is over 40. If that was to happen, the number of senior bachelors in this neighborhood and my village will drastically reduce. I said 40 not 25 or 65- for purposes of getting some support from a section of the church, a nod from Maendeleo ya Wanaume and a pat on the back from other feminists- the media too won't see the big story so there will be no buzz around that wedding!

Back to our plot| where I live and there's a straight guy~ mid 40s, still does his laundry, dishes and makes his chapatis~ so eligible. The dude doesn't drink, leaves early and is always in the house before 9pm. I would recommend this guy any day to any unhappily married woman out there. Def the guy deserves a single lady but at 40 he has seen them all and perhaps just wants to be with his teenage sweetie who left him and got married to another guy.

However this would really complicate issues~ who moves in or out? Who will have the remote during prime time news? What if one says the salt was too much while the other asked for the salt shaker? How much sugar is okay for them? What about the different size, colour and look + feel of the boxers in the bathroom wall? Ugly! Who sits where? Who gets to slaughter the chicken and have the thighs? If one of them is Luhya sijui itakukuwaje! Choma that mbuzi over Xmas? Both guys? No! One will burn the ribs and pin it on the other one. Sunday outings? The mlevi one wants a place with a bar, the other one thinks snacks in the arboretum is a great idea~utaenda wapi! Watoto je? Come to extended family relations~how will you manage two mother in laws and keep them happy? Most women can't handle one so why add another one?

There's a Swahili saying that goes like "Fahali wawili hawakai zizi moja" so the woman has to split days between the guys~ two homes.
Think of a situation where one of the guys is explaining to the kids why their mum is with Uncle| Baba X for the weekend~ how about the telling yo kids unaenda holiday na yule mwingine just baba yao hana pesa?

Now I will leave the ladies to decide if polyandrous unions are a good idea. Should you fight for that?

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

My new friend from China: Work, Fun and getting to Know my Friend

I get to work with people from diverse backgrounds and learn new, sometimes weird things about other cultures. My newest friend is from China and over the past few weeks here's what I can say~

1. In ancient China men were attracted to girls with small feet- you can Google why but my new friend doesn't rate women by their shoe size. He needs more 

2. Still on girls~ the guy tells me in China, they prefer to keep those with flat or PROPER things~ not big, round and really there. I haven't showed him pics of Vera Sidika, Risper and Corazon but definitely those aren't his type. He's a gentleman, doesn't stare at these things so I can't tell which one he likes in the office and I cannot ask him that--not yet 

3. We've tried different dishes for lunch~I started him on junk~ chips and chicken, then to Ugali and beef, some Nyama choma, ...rice etc but since the guy tasted Chapatis he's been having them daily. I have told him he can prepare kadhaa over this weekend, carry them to work next week and they can stay fresh for 3-4 days if kept guy is very HAPPY now. We're making chapatis for next week this weekend 

4. But the stuff that really drives him crazy and makes him so happy is Facebook. It's banned in China but accessible in Kenya. If he'll remember anything about this beautiful country, the time he spent on Facebook will be in his top 5. Soon you'll get a friend request from him. 

5. The guy is a Buddhist, and their religion doesn't allow him to take alcohol or smoke. So he asked me about my beliefs and I told him I am a Christian, the Bible says it's wrong to drink but I take cold ones on Fridays. From that statement my guy decided to try Brew Bistro last weekend, and loved it so much. He now wants to know my plans for Easter weekend and what I will be doing on Friday evening. Twende Kazi 

5. Finally my guy doesn't have any martial arts training, not even basic Kungfu skills. I really wanted to know if he can kick some ass when we go out and chokoza that guy who brings 2 or 3 girls to the club and wants to dance with all of them. 

He is harmless~usimchokoze lakini, he's a cool guy and he's here to send make new friends. Ukipata friend request~ kubali yaishe. 

6. Finally he is not into animals, wilderness and such mzungu stuff. So he's definitely not a part time poacher~ don't blame him for the elephants and rhinos we've lost in the past weeks. Forgive me for saying that about my good friend. Back to work friends.

There are 4 ways of building a Start-up in Africa

Over time I have come this conclusion: There are 4 ways of building a business~routes to success in entrepreneurship. Or basically 4 types of founders. 

Do your stuff quietly, innovate and build things people need, sell massively, do ONLY things that improve your bottom line and focus on just that. And if you do that consistently money then comes. This kind of a person| agency| business is good or the best at what he/they does/do. His story is not frequently told, neither are there many case studies on the work he has done. He is rich or makes his money quietly but he will not let things like appointments to a seat in private sector ‘lobby’ committee, a board, part of a Government or NGO think tank or such things take his focus from doing what he enjoys doing. He simply fixes what he has total control over and leaves the rest for others to sort or screw up. This is the story of Kamal~Craft Silicon.
2. Build your thing as you share your story:~ This is the entrepreneur who is in the office for 3 days a week and spends the remaining four days in conferences, meet ups, panel sessions, talk shows, doing interviews etc. This guy knows one thing….to tell a good story and back it up with the work he does~he has a great team to fix issues while he’s away. I don’t want to give names here. But if you want to scale a social enterprise, raise funding, get partners and attract good talent this is the person you have to be.

3. The story teller: This is the entrepreneur who mastered the art of great story telling. His decks are so cool, flawless presentations full of case & use studies and full of quotes from reports and great people. He knows what’s happening around and people making it happen so he has no problem knowing where to go share his story. If he’s not speaking in a session, he’ll be the guy asking the questions. He doesn’t have a permanent residence~if he has the kids haven’t seen him for a while now, stays in hotels and checks into JKIA quite often. He tweets ruthlessly and will never turn down an interview request~he has a pile of business cards collected from his trips. Any publicity is good publicity for him. He uses that publicity to attract funding, recruit, sell his stuff and scale.

The only problem here is, only a few guys can pull this off

a) Wazungus~ you have some donors and friends back home to support your mission in Africa.

b) You’re a rich kid or a who is who kinda network~ Your dad was a Minister in Moi’s govt, you’re from money, your uncles are rich, your siblings are doing big things, you know people and these people KNOW YOU!

c). You have 15 yrs + work experience in a specific sector and some deep respect from your peers. This guy has worked so hard to get the credentials. A PHD here is an added advantage.

d). You have your ‘Africa rising story’ and you can tell it properly~perhaps in a TED kinda set up.

4. Be your own man kinda founder. These are guys who are doing things their way. Making mistakes and fixing them, they don’t talk or overpromise & under deliver. The get it done. They don’t follow rules or read about tips to be successful and rich. They have no manual. So they don’t know what the lean start-up methodology is, the haven’t used a business model canvas, they don’t know much about the 10~20~30 rule. Or all the new things out here. They don’t want outside money|VC capital, some partner logos and such kinda things. They do their stuff and sell it. They only care about the customer. And they’ll do anything to keep that guy happy. They respect the customer because he’s the only guy who can fire them all by spending his money elsewhere. They don’t fuck around. Most Wahindis, Kikuyu’s and Kalasinga’s fall here.

So what type of a founder are you? Or what route are you on? Did I leave anyone out? Talk to me…leave a comment