Thursday, 27 February 2014

Boda Boda Rules and Regulations: What Next? What's the Impact?

The people who banned night bus transport have also decided watu wa boda boda pia walale mapema. Good. That was really easy to pass because a guy who hasn't used public transport for over a decade wouldn't understand why anyone would ride in a bike at night + in the cold + all the rain with all these cabs in Nairobi. FINE!

1. Boda bodas are used to ferry thugs from one place to the other. NICE! 
2. These riders cause too many accidents & they are careless. YEAH! 
3. CBD is a mess, these guys shouldn't operate even during the day! AMEN! 
4. Boda bodas are to blame for the rising cases of infidelity & teenage pregnancies. The riders even lure young school girls with free rides and impregnate them! WOW!

What next?
1. The hardworking young guy who took a loan from the chama or MFI or bank to buy a bike to hustle, provide for and feed his family now has to go home early. The bank doesn't care what Kimaiyo said. Bike repossessed, house hold goods auctioned. Guarantors pia ndio hao! 
2. The guy who used his savings on a motorcycle now has to ride it for fun? 
2. Those who leave their casual jobs late in the night wangoje tu asubuhi ifike wapande Ma3? Kwani mbona leave work late? What is this you do at night? 
3. The guy who has to make a few more deliveries past 8pm to make some extra $ past akalale! Kesho iko! 

What next after that? 
More unemployment, more crime, more gender violence, more homeless guys, more thugs in the city. 

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Story Telling for Entrepreneurs in Africa

The stuff out here nowadays tends to romanticize the concept of entrepreneurship too much but this thing isn't meant for everyone! You even need to prepare for it! Moving from idea--launch--scale--exit is a process. Not an event. The thrill is in the journey not the end result. It's nowhere close to epic, cool or awesome! But it's worth the pursuit. 

We need more authentic stories shared and less of early celebration of ideas. As it is today we read read & share stuff with announcements, plans to, outcomes [acquisitions + funding], the numbers [users + sales], wins, the awards, metrics and the rankings. Even being on a '5 Startups to watch' list is prestigious and worth bragging about 

We cannot tell stories through a press release with some facts, projections, figures and quotes. That's not what the customer| users deeply care about.

Tell the stories you'd like to listen to, about the impact your product had on a user, the transformation and value add, not just some one liners of testimonials. Got pictures? share those. Can you get a video with a customer sharing his/her experiences? Upload them on Youtube and tweet the link. Have a simple WP blog, write short stories and blogs that add value to readers. 

Monday, 24 February 2014

Embryo transfer technology. Is kenya and the region ready for the next big thing in dairy?

Have you wondered where you can source for good dairy animals? Chances are as a dairy farmer you have had to search far and wide to find a good replacement animal or just another animal to increase you herd size?  If you succeed to get a good one in a reasonable time then consider yourself as a very lucky person. A great number of farmers have had to make do with long waiting list or at have to content with low quality animals as such replacement animals are rear to come by.
The situation is no better also among the breeders of dairy animals. The high demand of dairy animals is such that such breeders have to turn away farmer wanting animals on a regular basis. The few animals that become available have to sell at high prices as potential buyers compete against each other for the best offers. This has seen the prices of dairy animals rise periodically from less than Ksh 100,000 in the early 2000 to prices of over Ksh 200,000 currently.  The good milk prices being offered by the milk markets, the availability of credit to purchase animals have combined to push the demand for animals in Kenya.
The regional markets have also placed a significant role in the price increases. As many of the regional countries settle to undertake more development the dairy sector has being revived and the considering the potential that dairy could impact on their farmers, priority is being placed in dairy development.
Whereas Kenya has the largest population of dairy animals compared the regional countries the factors favorable dairy production locally combine to make it even harder for farmers in the region to buy dairy animals in Kenya. 
The above challenges named above along with those inherent in the breeding of animals by way of artificial insemination is forcing dairy breeders to look outside the box is an answer to the ever rising demand for dairy animals have to found.

One such solution being considered is Embryo transfer. Also called Multiple Ovulation and Embryo transfer (MOET) this is Process which involves hormonally stimulating a donor cow to produce many ova from its ovaries. The ova are then fertilized by Artificial insemination but instead the resultant embryos being allowed to develop they are flushed and transplanted to heat synchronized recipient cows to carry the pregnancy to term. The process makes it possible for the selected donors to produce over 30 embryos by extension as many calves over a period of one year as compared to the natural process where a dairy animal produces only one calf in a year.  The process is superior to artificial insemination in that whereas with AI the superior genetics being multiplied is limited to the bull, in embryo transfer the genetically superior female also gets its superior genes multiplied. The process enable a fast built up of superior dairy animals in period as short as fast year compared to over fifteen years if one is to go the upgrading process that is feasible using AI.  The fact that animals of low quality genetic value can be used as recipients or surrogates makes the process feasible among farmers who do not have good genetics to start with.  Although the Boran animals are the preferred choice as recipients for the dairy embryos, crosses or in extreme cases the small East African Zebu can be used as recipients. Animals which can been used as recipients are borans

The service is currently being offered under the auspices of the East African Semen and Embryo transfer Association (EASETA) and is being supported by the regional World Bank Project East AFRICAN agricultural productivity Project. (EAAPP). The association which was formed in the 2006 is spearheading the adoption of the technology not only in Kenya but in the region as a whole. Whereas the technology has available locally since the early 1990’s the lack of support and poor success rate contributed to its low adoption. The association  which formed by Corporate and individuals has been finding ways and means to make the adoption a reality by pooling resources and enabling Embryo transfer personnel to train on a regular basis.
The Association has now competent personnel are available for farmers wishing to undertake embryo transfer in their farms. The farmers wishing to undertake ET are first assisted to access their facilities situation for the suitability for Embryo transfer. Secondly the farmers are assisted to identify suitable animals both donors and surrogates for the embryo transfer work. An ET program tailor made especially for the farmers is then developed and availed to the farmer complete with the financing options available for the farmer.  The association recommends that at least three donors and five recipients be availed by the farmer for an Embryo transfer program. Whereas the average yield with every flushing of donors is about 5 embryos, up to three donors are required to take care of cases where a donors may not respond to the hormonal treatment.

The minimum package of Embryo transfer is about Ksh 320,000/=. The package allows for the harvesting of embryos from at least three donors and the transfer of embryo to a minimum of five surrogates. The farmer can chose to avail upto fifteen recipients in the same package to reap maximum benefit from the package. Where the farmer cannot avail all the donors or recipients he can choose to team up with neighbors to get necessary the numbers. Alternatively where the farmer does not have donors the association is in a position to link with breeders who are willing to avail their animals for embryo flushing. The cost of embryos in this situation will be higher as the breeders would normally add a mark up to the cost of production. 
The arrangement also works out well where the cooperative members chose to work as a team to undertake embryo transfer. The cooperative would then enter into an understanding with the Association and the technology will be availed to the members.  The numbers in a cooperative situation make the technology to be cost effective and good successes are achieved with the numbers involved.

The benefits and returns availed by the technology is second to none. Whereas the investment on the side of the farmer appears high initially the returns are good. The cost of producing embryo for a farmer who undertakes the same on his farmer ranges between Ksh 15,000/= to 20,000/= per embryo, the same would cost no less than 25,000 to buy or sell.  Although the conception rate foe embryo transfer is lower at 50% compared to 75% for AI the resultant pregnancy is of a higher value. A well selected Embryo transfer calf at birth go for prices of not less than Ksh 200,000/= each although currently farmers who chose to have calves by way of embryo transfer do not avail the same as they attached a much higher value than the amount quoted.  If fact it is common practice for farmers who produce embryos to utilize the same on their farm rather than avail the same for sale.
The waiting associated with embryo transfer is considered reasonable by most farmers as even in situation where breeding animals are being sought many have had to content with a waiting period of up to two years before being offered to buy.

From the year 2010 When EASETA was able to receive support with the EAAAP it has been able to flush more than 300 donors and in the process obtained more than 80 calves. These were undertaken at ADC and also at individual farmers.    The deliberate use of sexed semen on the production of embryo is what resulted in the high number of unfertilized ova in the program so far. Sexed semen usually is lower in volume and spread to effectively fertilize ova is usually poor.
In the back drop of this is the fact that Kenya host one of the largest quarantine facility in the region for the production of embryos. The facility which is located in Ol Pejeta Laikipia County is used to produce Boran embryo for export to South Africa. The facility has been producing over 1000 embryos annually and serves to show that the technology which is working for beef can also adopted to make an impact in dairy.
The technology although it is at infantry in Kenya as far as adoption in Kenya is big business for dairy farmers in the developed world. In fact the production of embryo for export is the dairy component with the highest returns.
In is important to note that the Embryo transfer offspring which have been born intermittently since the late 1990 has some progeny at the Kenya Animals Genetic Resource Centre where the bulls has done well in local semen sales.


With the support that EASETA has been receiving for EAAPP the Association   is seeking to use the technology to avail dairy genetics not only to the Kenyan farmers but to the region as a whole. The association which is currently working with individual breeders and also Cooperatives is at an advance stage in acquiring Embryo transfer materials and equipment for use in the program. The materials will see the up-scaling of its operations with an aim of producing at least 500 embryos for local use and sale in the region.  For the purpose of improving the local genetics pool the association is seeking to work closely with breeders and KAGRC to see to the importation of embryos with the intention that the resultant bulls will be taken up by the bull station for purpose of semen production.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Your Huge Bargain on the WhatsApp Deal

If it's online & FREE then you are the product: Here's why you're info & activity on WhatsApp is worth that much to Mark Zuckerburg

1. WhatsApp logs time spent on various pages, cookies that identify you, numbers you talk to and when. This will now be shared with Facebook. 

2. WhatsApp logs your IP, browser info, URL of the site you were on before and the one you're moving to. This will now be shared with Facebook.

3. WhatsApp periodically checks your mobile address book to locate phone numbers of other users. This will now be shared with Facebook. 

Even if ads aren't coming to WhatsApp, FB will gain a lot from the 450M WhatsApp users esp in Asia and Africa. 

Ni hayo tu kwa sasa.

Monday, 17 February 2014

How To Deal With Creative People

Tips For Approaching the Most Volatile Department in the Ad Agency
It’s no surprise to anyone working in advertising that the creative department is a tough one to handle. Many see creatives as petulant children, usually because they have a tendency to act like that at times. Sometimes, it’s entirely justified. Other times, it’s attributable to an over-zealousness for the work.

It’s important to remember that like musicians and other artists, being a designer, copywriter or art director is not simply a job. It’s a passion. It’s something that goes beyond the 9-5 office hours. Creatives will live and breathe the brand, and think about the project day and night. Many of the best ideas have come from midnight brainstorms and 5am showers. It’s not the kind of thing that can be shut off.

Also, it takes time, energy, and an incredible amount of deep thinking to birth a genuinely creative advertising campaign. Anyone who thinks it is easy has not been on the receiving end of a blistering WIP (Work In Progress) session with a fuming creative director. This is, in no uncertain terms, a tough job.

Another important aspect of the creative department is this: there is no correct answer. Creatives are not accountants. There are no specific numbers to produce. There is no definitive solution. So judging the work will always be subjective. A great campaign to one creative director could be a mediocre one to another. This leads to incredible frustration. And with frustration comes venting, which leads to dramatic outbursts and inappropriate behavior. It’s also the reason HR is very different in ad agencies that most other professions.

So, if you’re not in the creative department, chances are you’ll have to deal with these ticking time bombs sooner or later. From account services and production, to senior management and even clients, there are ways you can handle creatives that will get you better results.

1: Share Their Passion For The Work
If you work in a good advertising agency, you should be driven to produce outstanding creative work. If you don’t feel that way, then you will not be helping the cause, and eventually you’ll be filtered out. But even if you are not 100% sold on the idea, if it’s the choice of the creative director and the creative team, it’s your job to back it like it’s your own.

If you’re in account services, find out everything you can about the idea. This will help you sell it in if the creatives aren’t going to be in the presentation. If you’re in production, get inside the heads of the creatives. Understand their vision. And if you’re the client, have a little trust. The team has spent weeks falling in love with your brand, and doing everything they can to make it look amazing. They are not looking to be selfish, they have not got a hidden agenda. It’s all about you.

2: Give Constructive Feedback
The worst thing you can say to any creative team is something non-committal and completely lacking in direction. “I’m just not feeling it” or “try again” will pour fuel on the fire of a team that knows they have to go back to the drawing board. Provide clear answers, and explain what you didn’t see in the first round.

3: Have Some Empathy
Imagine you’ve worked nights and weekends on a project. Your last thought before your head hit the pillow was about a tagline. Your first thought as you rubbed the crust from your eyes was the social media extension of the campaign. This is your life. Now imagine after hundreds of hours of work, someone says “hey, it’s just a job, stop getting so worked up over an idea.” It’s not just a job. Serving burgers in McDonald’s is just a job. Handing over the correct change in a tollbooth is just a job. This is way beyond that. It’s a painful soul-sucking process.
Remember, if you have bad news for the team, sit them down and empathize. Explain how strong the work is. Tell them they did a fantastic job. Then, gently lay the bad news down. If they feel you’re coming from a place of support, they’ll happily help you re-imagine the campaign. Well, happily may be a slight exaggeration.

4: Show An Interest

Remember that feeling you got when you showed someone the photos from your last vacation, or maybe a picture your newborn baby, and they looked about as interested as someone watching grass grow? It’s not pleasant. The same applies to creatives. The work is their baby. They went through a lot to birth it. If you show no interest, or appear annoyed by the very idea that you have to try and sell this in, you will quickly make enemies in the creative department. If you’re a client, remember that the team has sweat blood over these ideas. A cold, soulless reaction is like a knife through the heart. Similarly, ask questions. You shouldn't pander, but if you’re asking legitimate questions about the work, the creatives know you are actually engaging with it.

5: Cater To Their Strengths

Some teams are better at some types of jobs than others. Some love to work in the online space. Some love television more than others. Some thrive with automotive accounts, others with the service industry. What’s more, you’ll see certain teams sniffing around accounts like a dog with a bone. They want them. You will get better work from a team who is enthusiastic about working on the project, than a team who is being forced to work on it. It can’t always happen, but when you can cater to the strengths of the teams, everyone’s a winner.

Friday, 14 February 2014

#DiaperMentality Cyber Protest and Why it's a Terrible Idea

The #DiaperMentality 'cyber protest' is squarely targeted at the 'influential and economically able' growing middle class who represent the bulk of social media users in this country. The content shared is meant to agitate, annoy and make them feel sorry about this nation for a moment, maybe for a while--the weekend---a few days maximum.

The keyboard ninjas behind #DiaperMentality are serving blow jobs on huge discounts to middle class Kenyans who missed the Feb 13 protest hoping they'll demand for the real thing immediately, take action soon, spread the message offline and push for change off the internet. The question is does this help get anything done? Does it deter corruption? Does it empower the kawaida Kenyans? Yes and NO!

The challenge is KE's middle class doesn't genuinely care about the problems of the common mwananchi because they are buying cars, houses and nice clothes to mask their real struggles and drown sorrows. After the tear gas these guys drove home to fairly upmarket areas, enjoyed a hot shower and relaxed with family while watching news and tweeting about the days drama! There was even USAID $$ to cater for their fuel & what I'd call a 'disturbance allowance' after a long day in the streets.

And as the number of Kenyans continues to grow as the internet’s tool of choice, the smart phone, makes astronomical inroads in this country prepare for more cyber protests---The Hashtag economy!

Above all I still feel there's a better way to pass this message 'ethically' for everyone to understand and feel the need to change.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Attracting and Retaining Great Talent in your Startup.

 It takes many months to find the right, skilled, reliable and determined talent and bring them on board your hot new startup idea or company. And it’s not going to get any easier. The competition for good talent is so fierce right now and attracting great talent to a startup can be a nightmare. You want specific candidates who care about your startup, your products, your customers, and most important your job. People who understand the industry you operate in and the requirements of the job.
Besides the great idea you have, the big market you’re after, if you’re going to hack it huge you need to focus on the people you hire or attract to your startup.
1. Character over skill set
So for example how do you hire a good developer if you're not a programmer? Find a good programmer to help you hire a developer. Right? But if you can't recognize good programmers, how would you even do that? This illustrates a common challenge in recruitment in startups. How can a CS guy pick a smart marketing guy in a batch of smooth talkers and liars? Referrals? Share the vacancy on job boards? Should you hire character then train skill? Or pick skill, education and experience over character and culture?
Don't hire or work with someone you dislike because they have some skill you need and worry you won't find anyone else to get the product ready on time. Look out for people who show some focus, the discipline to complete projects on time, the determination to see things through and resilience. Smart guys are also bad procrastinators, creative designers are perfectionists they critique their work thus take longer at it, great developers new tech superstars are a little weird there’s also ego to massage there J
Talk to the candidates about what they’ve done. Ask them about their most impressive projects and biggest wins. Specifically, ask them about how they spend their time during an average day, and what they got done in the last month. Evaluate guys on work they’ve done in the past, review their skills based on what they’re working on/at the moment and pick them based on the work they can do in future.
2. Your Culture
Culture is your competitive advantage while attracting talent. It’s about you, your people, culture, leadership, core values and vision and basically what people external to the organization think of you. The culture of a startup really matters a lot to the success of the entity. Great people attract other great people in just about any company startup, SME or Multinational; as soon as you get a mediocre person or a few in, this entire phenomenon can unwind. In the grind of a startup, it is very easy to hire someone that is not quite smart enough or a culture fit because you really need a specific job done. Hire people who are a natural fit to your culture.
3. The Friends and Relatives Blackspot
The friends and family help a lot in getting the work done at no cost especially in the early days. If most of your employees are from one tribe, family, race then this may hinder your chances of attracting new talent or retaining great personnel. You need to have a balanced multi talented team for the greater good of the startup, so don't include your wingman because he'd feel left out. The people are the most important ingredient in a startup, so don't compromise there not even with friends & relatives.
4. Be firm but not horrible
People will soon forget what you did, but will never forget how you make them feel especially when they are on the receiving end. Be firm with your judgment; let your team know what is acceptable and what isn’t. Be a cool but ensure work is done, timelines met and work is never compromised because people feel they can get away with anything! Disputes can be avoided if you’re more careful about who you go into business with and whom you work with. Most disputes are not due to the situation but the people. It's much easier to firmly fix issues early. Let your employees understand the black and white of most processes, procedures and approach to issues. Don’t be a jerk or a control freak though.
5. Have Job Descriptions
It’s advisable to have job descriptions to ensure people understand their scope of work and what is expected of them. JD’s are important for funded startups or those that have been in existence for over six months and have over five employees.
However if having JDs is too boring for your cool startup then at least have ‘deliverables’ for everyone, call them targets, timelines, expectations, clear assignments and tasks. This helps identify who to recognize, reward, promote, fire, demote or transfer or rotate. As you implement this in an early stage company encourage collaboration and teamwork to ensure employees assist others in areas of their interest, have skills or knowledge in.Remember that in a growing startup, anyone you hire is likely to be doing a new job in three to six months. Hire guys who are adaptable. People who have great appetite for bigger challenges, excited about learning new things, people who are willing to do one more thing for the team.

Do check out this interesting Infographic by Deloitte too.
Side Note:
“A programmer is most productive with a quiet private office, a great computer, unlimited beverages, an ambient temperature between 68 and 72 degrees (F), no glare on the screen, a chair that’s so comfortable you don’t feel it, an administrator that brings them their mail and orders manuals and books, a system administrator who makes the Internet as available as oxygen, a tester to find the bugs they just can’t see, a graphic designer to make their screens beautiful, a team of marketing people to make the masses want their products, a team of sales people to make sure the masses can get these products, some patient tech support saints who help customers get the product working and help the programmers understand what problems are generating the tech support calls, and about a dozen other support and administrative functions...” (Source)