Showing posts with label Kenyan Empowerment News. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kenyan Empowerment News. Show all posts

Friday, October 19, 2007

Is the Kenyan Finance Minister in the middle of a Dirty Economic Game????

The Kenyan finance minister is showing great signs of underhand economic mischief specifically because of an impending major IPO (Initial Public Offer) of Safaricom, a mobile phone service. Apparently, he is so determined to get into the books of history as the man who pulled off a deal worth over 34 Billion Kenya Shillings. With the country's elections just weeks away you may be forgiven for assuming that this is just a ploy to get money to fund the elections given that the incumbent is faring not so well in recent opinion polls that put him at 37% against his major challenger who gannered 53%. May be best way would be................[Read the rest of the post HERE ]

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Another Friendly Reminder-Kenya Investment Forum

For those of you who may be interested, please don't forget about this weekend....Kenya Diaspora Investment Forum 2007 coming to Atlanta this weekend!

Press Release


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Monday, January 01, 2001

When Is My Business Your Business?

Republished on The Benin Epilogue with Permission of Kenyan Empowerment News


When Is My Business Your Business?

by Benin “Mwangi” Brown


My dear reader, if you are seeing these words, right now, chances are very good-that you are might be what I would term a “Kenyan-Atlantan”. Now granted, my observation probably isn’t going to land for me a Nobel Prize. However, there is a reason for my message.


Some of you may know that I am a native to Atlanta, but something that you may not have known is my passion for learning the business climate in Africa and sharing that information with others. Although, I was not born in Kenya, you have made me feel like family. So it’s only natural that my independent research about Africa’s different business scenes finds its way to Kenya. And let me say that Kenya has a very special business air about herself, one that is very unique amongst other developing economies. But, do you know what? This is not the purpose of my appeal to you.


Let me ask you this, have you ever noticed how almost without fail at least every third or fourth American that hears your speech pattern has a certain line of questioning for you? Surely, you must be familiar with this. Why am I bringing this up? Well, from the moment that my feet touched Kenyan soil I found myself at awe at the business climate there. Even before my trip to Kenya, during the time of my first visits to Africa, West Africa, I began to ask myself many questions about the perception of doing business there versus the reality, but then something else also happened. Deep inside me there was a voice that felt compelled to let the world know about the beauty, the diversity, and the unlimited possibilities-for doing business in Africa. With this as a backdrop, the misperceptions that I encountered amongst some who’ve never made the journey to Africa disturbed me to no end. Here I was trying to explain to an educated business person why she or he should consider doing business in Kenya and this person is asking me if they have cars there? My reactions probably embarrassed that person in much the same way that their “interesting” questions offended me.
At some point I began asking myself if there was not a better way to throw light on Kenya or her economic landscape without everyone walking away feeling bitter. To my wonderment I have found that there is.


Now, my friend let’s connect the dots…I have made it my business to share one word at a time with one business person at a time. This was my lesson, that through this approach we can demystify Africa and help create positive change at the same time. The reason that this works is because the understanding and measured briefness given to the person on the receiving end may ignite a small spark within. When this fire becomes lit it may cause the person to do his or her own investigation, as to how or why to start doing business in Africa.


The reason that it took me so long to say this is that you, unlike me, have known for quite some time that more trade and smarter aid is a catalyst that has continued to grow Kenya’s economy. After-all, every year Kenyans in the Diaspora collectively remit over $700m year back home to Kenya. If that is not enough to illustrate the economic power of Kenyans in the Diaspora, go to any major city in the Diaspora where there is a large population of Kenyans and you will find investment clubs, professional organizations, pictures of beautiful homes being built back at home, and the like. All of which, serve to spur more economic growth in Kenya.

Thus, my challenge, what can I say to someone who is already doing the right things to help build up their homeland? Well, if each one of you decides to share one of the world’s best kept secrets- Africa’s robust growth economies, then that’s one more thing that you’d be doing to help. This could mean that one more outside business person may invest their money in a country such as Kenya, than before you spoke. From the single investment of this hypothetical businessperson; one more entrepreneur in Kenya can hire one more employee, one more parent can educate one more child, and so on and so on. So here it is, the next time a someone who’s never been to Africa asks you an “interesting” question about Africa, please make my business your business. In doing so, you may be able to add yet another measure of boost to Kenya’s growing economy-one word at a time.


Benin “Mwangi” Brown is the editor and author of The Benin Epilogue: Africa Ready for Business web log, which can be found at http://africareadyforbusiness.blogspot.com. He may be contacted at beninmwangi@gmail.com .

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Kenya’s Hidden or Not So Hidden Treasure-Agriculture!

Republished on The Benin Epilogue with Permission of Kenyan Empowerment News

Kenya’s Hidden or Not So Hidden Treasure-Agriculture!

by Benin “Mwangi” Brown

These days, when one browses through the latest online edition of any one of Kenya’s popular online news publications, it is really easy to pick up a renewed sense of optimism about Kenya’s business and economy. And rightfully so; in fact, I’d be willing to bet that if we went trough today’s any of today’s headlines from Kenya’s widely read news publications we’d find rather optimistic business news. The business headlines would probably read something like this, “Kenya’s robust tourism industry growth”, or maybe an article describing how “Kenyan capital funds the stock markets of neighboring countries”, still yet you might read about yet “another stock split on the Nairobi Stock Exchange”, and so on and so on. Now think about it, if you decided to study these headlines, over time, then you may come to notice that writers seem to put a heavy emphasis on the nation’s more glamorous or let’s say exciting business industries or activities. This would tend to make one feel like Kenya’s business environment must be really, really diverse, after all out of all of these headlines only a few mentions agriculture. Even in our random conversations, I even noticed recently myself that it’s rare that I tell someone, “Gee, I think I want to start a farm in Kenya”. But don’t you think that in a way we are all doing this industry a disservice by forgetting about it so often? Please, don’t feel guilty, either; it’s certainly not my point to have anyone in tears after reading this. It’s just that, it seemed like a good time to remind everyone, myself included, that we can all play a tremendous part in the part of Kenya’s economic development by supporting an industry that is so vital to the economy of a place that many of us call home.

Before going further, let me say that this will not be a dissertation, I only want to make a few points here and then let you go on to ponder their impact. Now let’s take a look at why agriculture in Kenya is still alive and well and shouldn’t be ignored as an investment, an occupation, hobby, or a suggestion to others. At present, it accounts for roughly 80% of Kenya’s employment and accounts for roughly one third of Kenya’s gross domestic product. Additionally, farming in Kenya is typically carried out by very small producers; they make up roughly 75% of Kenya’s total production.

Here is another interesting fact about farming in Kenya, the majority of these farmers, after expenses, have very small incomes. This is due to several factors. Primarily, the two biggest roadblocks for Kenya’s small farmers are lack of information about the produce prices on the daily commodities market and the number of middlemen that the farmers must cede a portion of their profits to in order to get paid. Recently, however, developments have come about which will likely change this pattern to the farmers’ benefit. Mobile phone access in the rural areas and a momentous worldwide movement, called the Fair Trade movement, seem to be shifting the tides back in the favor of Kenya’s smaller agribusinesses. This trend could signal the coming of a new frontier for investment opportunities in Kenya. The great possibility for investors in the Diaspora to experience up-side is probably the greatest reason for me choosing this topic, as opposed to some of the others that are out there.

Before we go into the “how” it might be more appropriate to remind you of the why, right? Here are my reasons why we may want to stay more focused on agriculture as a serious economic endeavor in Kenya. As someone who tries to follow economic policy and development, to me this topic means greater economic participation from Kenya’s largest income bracket, which could in turn mean more accountability from politicians representing this demographic. It could also mean investing in a market which already exhibits strong upward trends. From the social standpoint, helping Kenya’s small farmers become more profitable also means helping Kenya’s overall economy expand. Currently, Kenya’s GDP growth rate is 5.8% per year. Perhaps, the biggest reason to me though is that if we publicly esteem this industry then tomorrow, when our kids become decision makers or there kids for that matter, there will be professional farmers out there who did it because it was something that they knew we’d be proud of or that this was a way for them to make a big difference in Kenya’s overall wellbeing. But again, these are only my reasons that it would make sense for me to find a way to help support, invest in, or promote Kenya’s small farmers. Let me also note that this doesn’t have to be on a large scale, either, if enough people participate. So, now the question might be- what about your reasons?

Now, is where we can take a look into the “how” of supporting and acknowledging Kenya’s small farmers and agric industry. There are several ways that you could do this, while still residing here in America. One, you could find retailers that sell Fair Trade products from Kenya and start purchasing some of your products there. Two, you could donate to a non- profit organization that supports fair trade in Kenya. Three, you might decide to investigate this idea further and actually fund a portion or all of farmer’s expansion costs yourself. Again, keep in mind that expansion in this context need not be larger or fancy, it could mean helping this person to purchase a GSM phone that could work in a rural setting or it could mean helping this farmer or group of farmers spend the funds to find direct buyers-perhaps a website. Four, you might already know someone here in America that may already be in the market for the products that a friend, family member, or old acquaintance produces on their farm-you might play matchmaker. Five, you could help invest in the actual plot of land that the farmer grows produce on. Anyhow, the possibilities here are just endless. The underlying theme is that if you allow small scale agriculture to exist within your realm of possibilities, be it in financial or social investments, sooner or later the right opportunity will present itself and you will be able to do something about it.

Helping in this war could trigger a cascade of positive events that over time and scale could help to build your personal fortunes and perhaps more importantly Kenya’s as well. And I don’t know about you, but someday I will retire in Kenya, and a happy and healthy Kenya means a better life for me and my family. Isn’t that all the more reason to find a way to help support and grow Kenya’s small produce industry? You don’t have to take my word for it though. But still, I challenge you to just try it out and see for yourself. And hey, if it doesn’t work out at the very least you are almost certainly guaranteed that someone, it could be much later on down the road, will show you kind gratitude.


Benin “Mwangi” Brown is the editor and author of The Benin Epilogue: Africa Ready for Business web log, which can be found at http://africareadyforbusiness.blogspot.com. Benin may be contacted at beninmwangi-at-gmail dot com .

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EAC & Kenyans in the Diaspora

Republished on The Benin Epilogue with Permission of Kenyan Empowerment News


What Can the East African Community Do for Kenyans in the Diaspora?


Based upon the title of this article I can imagine that you might be asking yourself “what does this have to do with me?” Although I was born in Kenya, I live in America and maybe I might even stay here. True enough, I say… and if you have asked yourself this question-I agree the answer is not so obvious; but nevertheless it appears to be just beneath our noses. Before we start looking, first let us provide some background on how we arrived at today’s juncture.

For those of you who may not be very familiar with the EAC, it is a regional economic, monetary, and political union of states. It is similar to the European Union in that achieving a single currency, passport, language, decreased tariffs, and judicial arena for the member nations are the main tools for brining about enhanced economic development throughout the region.

Now initially, the title of this article was “what can the EAC do for me” but that just didn’t come across in a very relevant way-hence, the title that you see above. So, I guess one could say that “it’s all about the marketing”. Well, except maybe not so much in this case. The whole concept of an East African trade block is probably one of the most relevant economic topics to come out of the region for a long time, in that it has the power to affect the whole expanse of East Africa. But unfortunately, this East African Community (EAC) initiative has been one of those things where no matter how much marketing has been done there are have still been far too many misconceptions about it’s possible impact upon it’s neighbor states. This is something that I began to notice while reading various news publications a year or so back, but even though I was noticing this it seemed at the time like mere coincidence. But recently when I began noticing that this trend is also present even amongst some of Kenya and Tanzania’s more prominent bloggers (I won’t say who, but just do a search on Google for EAC Kenya blogs), which tend to be strong centers for scholarly thought and discussion, that’s when I began to sense that this was more than just a coincidence. Just to be sure that I was not exaggerating and that many folks in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda really did seem afraid of the impact that the EAC’s final ratification might have upon their respective countries I actually surfed the web once more prior to penning this article-only to have my new suspicions reinforced once more. That being said, the East African Community is still as relevant to East Africa as it was when it first began. The only problem is that although the concept of the East African Community has been thoroughly marketed prior to it’s reconstruction, it seems like not enough has been done to actually educate East Africa’s population about the vast benefits that it could bring to the region’s 90 million inhabitants.

If one were to trace the cooperation of Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania with one another back to the early 1900’s, let’s just say 1927 to be exact, then one might be able to find the origins of the East African Community union that we find today. In fact, from 1927 until 1977 there was a great deal of tariffs-related cooperation between the three founding nations of the EAC. But after 50 years of collaboration this union hit a major obstacle or snag-disagreements caused by Idi Amin in Uganda, socialism in Tanzania, and a perceived extreme form of capitalism in Kenya. These disputes marked the end of an era. It would be almost 20 more years before the three nations would re-address the issue. The year was 1993, this is when the presidents of Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania got together to bring about the formation of a committee and a treaty for exploring the re-establishment of the East African Community. It would take six more years before these efforts actually materialized in the form of a restored East African Community. Unlike the younger versions of themselves, each of the founding member states has enjoyed relative peace and stability since the initial collapse of the organization. However, for some reason it looks like the same fears that led to the regional body’s demise back then, are threatening to undermine the revised EAC before it even gets off of the ground. The main fear that I have seen repeated by Kenya’s neighbors is that Kenya poses an unfair challenge to Uganda and Tanzania, in terms of trade, with Kenya exporting far more to her neighbors than she imports from them. On the other hand, if Kenya’s bloggers are any indication, then the most common fear coming from Kenya is that the market will cause Kenya to lose its economic competitiveness in the region, as well as lose her political and judicial autonomy.

Although both notions may have some isolated elements of truth, what they both seem to be missing is the bigger picture. All three nations have already benefited tremendously, in terms of trade, from this relationship. And the organizations continued existence would only mean a mushrooming of the benefits that we have already seen. Additionally, the EAC will see the arrivals of Burundi and Rwanda as new members into the economic union. After those two new entrants, the next arrival could come from southern Sudan. Without over elaborating, what this does is creates much larger buyers markets for Kenyan businesses, as well as other businesses operating from within any of the other nations. Instead of a Kenyan company just marketing its products to the local community that it does business in now the business can put “feelers” out in neighboring Uganda and Tanzania locating even more buyers. This critical mass of demand, in turn, allows the businesses catering to these markets the ability to exploit economies of scale. These economies arise because the increased profits flowing into the companies would allow these companies to buy supplies in much larger quantities, thus lowering the price per unit. For the everyday average Kenyan this increase in demand could mean more jobs, more business, and ultimately more money flowing into the Kenya economy.

Although at the present time Kenyans are not formally giving their feedback in the form of votes, they are being asked to give a more informal type of feedback via a questionnaire that is currently being circulated in Kenya. This questionnaire will be circulated and tallied until April 2007. The formal vote via referendum will take place in 2009. That’s where you come in at. In a sense your status as Kenyan in the Diaspora means that you are an extension of Kenyan popular thought and opinion. Additionally, in the same manner you could also view yourself as an appendage to Kenyans living in Kenya, whereby the things that affect your relatives and friends in Kenya will most likely indirectly affect you. As such, your opinions matter more than ever to Kenya. Furthermore, you never know-the next time you fly into Kenya, you could be doing so with an East African Community passport meaning more opportunities for you to explore your neighbors. Or maybe this new union could bring about the possibility for direct flights into the region, whereby you could save your hard earned dollars for spending in Kenya, rather than on airfare into Europe. What it boils down to is that with the EAC the possibilities are just endless. So, if you are able to, please take some time on your own to learn more about the EAC. Then, the next time you are on the phone with a friend or relative in Kenya please be sure to remind them to support the formation of the EAC in the surveys and in the upcoming referendum. If they are not sure how or why this would be beneficial, you would be in a great position to inform them. Also, if it is possible for you do so, please don’t forget to set your calendar so that you may participate in the upcoming 2009 referendum. By doing so, you will be doing the whole East African region a great service.

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