Tuesday, 3 April 2012

"Are Kenyans Entrepreneurial or Enterprising?"

Take a walk down the streets of Nairobi or within the estates and one thing will definitely strike you. Its evident that you have numerous options of service providers or places to purchase items, be it airtime, footwear, clothing, fast food or tiny electronic gadgets. Most businesses have been quickly swallowed by the stall revolution withing the Nairobi Central Business District (NCBD). Every stall you enter will definately have numerous shops selling apparel, footwear, ladies bags, cellphones, pirated audio and audio visual copies production (be they CDs or DVDs) and Mobile retail and service outlets. Kenyans? Whats happening? Can be be more creative than local prototyping of businesses? What Happened to our creativity and Innovation?

True Entrepreneurs are known for excogitation and this clearly puts the demarcation of what most of us think we are doing, and what we are exactly doing. Most of us dive into business after learning of the success of an individual in a particular business, and we conclude that if others are making it, them we should. Starting a trading business or a simple service business can be quite easy but growth is definitely challenging. Most of the business owners hardly project about the growth of their business and are basically in it because they would like to have some extra income.If you were to ask some of the Mobile Money transfer Agency business owners of where they see their business in five or seven years, hardly will you get an answer. Last month I went to purchase a cartridge for my printer from Vincent who has been supplying me for the last two years, only to find a different business at the same spot. I was initially perplexed and I actually had to get out of the building to confirm whether I had used the right entrance, since most of them tend to resemble each other on the interior. This left me in a state of meditation as soon as the reality sank that the business was no longer in that building. Lets put a distinction between business persons and entrepreneurs since they come from a different school of thought. While an entrepreneur sees an opportunity to satisfy a particular need, a business man  sees an opportunity to make money. Kenyan business persons need to learn lessons on good customer service and customer relationship management, anyway, that will be on my next blog. Since I had the Vincent's cell phone number, I decided to give him a call, and the response I got is that he closed that business and was already running a cyber cafe at Donholm Shopping Centre. I wished I would have had sessions with him so as to understand his inspiration to move from a promising business venture to a rather quickly withering business.

From the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Report on Uganda, there are more businesses in the Uganda as opposed to a comparison of some European Countries which are already developed. A further look at the details, there was evidence that most Africans are pushed into entrepreneurship due to the need for survival and not necessarily the need to satisfy an existing unmet needs or existing business opportunity. This clearly explains the Kenyan Case where entrepreneurs in go into business for survival reasons. As a result, many copycat businesses mushroom in every corner of the city or town. This confirms that most Kenyans are Enterprising and not Entrepreneurial due to the reasons that drive them into business. However, lets give credit to the few entrepreneurs in the country who have innovative business ideas which are truly entrepreneurial. Its a high time that we changed the trend and decide to dream big, as well as project the future of the business beyond 5, 10 or 15 years. Lets accept that we can consolidate funds and start a big venture rather than run many small businesses that basically compete with each other. This is what most Asians have been practicing, hence they own most of the major businesses in the country. Pose for a moment and think of any blue chip companies in each of the sectors in the economy, ..........am sure that out of those you named, over 40 percent have Indian Ownership.

1 comment:

  1. Great post, kenyans are surely a strange breed but when needed we know how to make the necessary penny . We came up with mpesa but I think we ar still miles off from being great entrepreneurs.