Category Archives: CSR

Rewiring Education

This week, the M-Pesa Foundation Academy and Nairobi International School hosted author John Couch, who was first Vice President of Apple Inc., for a talk session on “rewiring education.” The chief guest was Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for ICT, Joe Mucheru. 

Rewiring Education speakers.

Excerpts from the rewiring education Q&A: 

  • Kids come into employment fully trained in things that are no longer relevant. They then have to unlearn that, and we are working with universities to modernize the curriculum.
  • Schools have to hire teachers who are registered with the Teachers Service Commission. But those who are there only have B.Ed (Bachelor of Education degrees), and lack skills to stand in front of students who are far ahead of them in technical knowledge.
  • The Kenya government has developed a brilliant curriculum, that will start next year, but teachers have not been trained to deliver this. International schools take three years to retrain a teacher.
  • The median age in Kenya is 19 years, and half the civil service is made up of teachers.
  • The most important skill to have in life is (to embrace) continuous learning.
  • Schools can currently evaluate student memorization, but not their creativity and innovation abilities.
  • “When I was studying at Berkeley, California in the 1970’s, people thought the social revolution was taking place in the streets, but I knew it was taking place inside computers.”
  • Safaricom set out to provide connectivity to all schools in Kenya and the government was to provide the devices.
  • “The way we are teaching kids is a disservice and I am in the process of suing the UK government for wasting thirteen years of my life!”
  • The US also treats teachers as a union problem, not a professional occupation. Teachers are underpaid and under-trained.

Entrepreneurs get support from UBA Foundation and Kenya’s Youth Fund

The UBA Foundation and the Youth Enterprise Development Fund in Kenya have signed a partnership to support Kenyan entrepreneurs who participate in the fourth cycle of the Tony Elumelu Foundation entrepreneurship development program.

The UBA Foundation is the CSR arm of the UBA Group, a pan-African bank that is in 19 countries. It focuses on economic empowerment, education, and the environment, while the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship program is a flagship of the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) . The program is an investment of $100 million that aims to nurture 10,000 African startups to create 1 million jobs and generate $10 billion in revenue growth over ten years. This will be through funding, training, mentorship, counseling and networking for the startups to trade across Africa and beyond.

Entrepreneurs apply to the TEF and Youth Fund.

The CEO of the Youth Fund Josiah Moriasi said the organization had advanced Kshs 12.2 billion to 1.4 million Kenyans through their core products such as LPO financing, talanta loans (for creatives), and startup loans. Ronald Osumba, Chairman of the Youth Fund, said that while the Fund had been in the news for some wrong reasons, it had also supported many young successful people,  not just with finance, but also business support, market linkages, and business spaces.  They were also working to reduce the failure rate of startups through market aggregation models in counties around the country.

This year the TEF program is already seeing a record number of entries from 54 countries since the window for applications opened on January 1.   It runs up to March 1, 2018, for applicants to submit their startups or business ideas and the selected entrepreneurs  will participate in the 2018 cycle that runs from May 1 to December 2018. 

The Tony Elumelu Foundation program has 3,000 alumni now, and over 200 Kenyans have benefited from the program, each having received $5,000 (~Kshs 500,000) as seed capital for their businesses which they have then used to scale and grow into other product and service lines. This year, UBA Kenya officials hope to enroll more Kenyan in the program as the country has run a distant second to Nigeria in past applications and enrollment.

The application process is rigorous but it pays off. TEF entrepreneurs get twelve weeks of training, mentorship, $5,000 of seed capital and access to the alumni network and further funding opportunities.  Kenyan entrepreneurs who complete the application to the TEF site can also apply to the Youth Fund for another $5,000 in matched funding.

Base Titanium – Kenya’s Flagship Mine

Base Titanium was recently made a Kenya Vision 2030 Flagship Project for the mining sector and continue to share updates as part of their commitment under the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).

For the financial year which ended in  June 2017, they had sales of $215 million, and a net profit of $21 million, compared to a loss of net loss of $20 million the year before. They reduced net debt by $76 million during the year, then reduced it further by $12 million to stand at $87 million at the end of the September 2017 quarter. Base Titanium are still owed $21 million in VAT tax refunds and all payments are still done to the national government though Kenya’s new mining law (currently in limbo) calls for separate payments to be made to the county government and the community. They are also still paying royalties at the rate of 2.5% while accruing another 2.5% in anticipation of the government changing this to 5%.

Base Titanium now moves into a second phase of production of the Kwale mineral sands project, investing $30 million in a more intense process of increased mining capacity, as they aim to maintain production of 450,000 of ilmenite, 88,000 tons of rutile and 33,000 tones of zircon a year even as they also target to retain their safety performance record which saw no lost time injuries in the last quarter. 

Base Titanium will also shift to a different field (South Dune) at Kwale in two years when the current field (Central Dune) is exhausted and which they have commenced rehabilitating the depleted areas with vegetation. 

They are also waiting to commence more exploration in Tanzania, in December, and in Kenya, in 2018. In Tanzania, where they hold 5 prospecting licenses, they await availability of drilling rigs while in Kenya they await completion of a report by a new mineral rights board for the Cabinet Secretary for Mining to approve further exploration in Kwale. 

Base Titanium has also spent $10 million ( – about Kshs 1 billion) on the community development projects. These include educational support that has seen 1,000 get scholarships in Kwale, while in agriculture, they are working with the national and the Kwale county government to assist over 900 local farmers and groups grow crops like potato, sorghum, and even cotton that is exported to Bangladesh for garment-making.

High School Scholarships from Kenyan Banks

The leading indigenous Kenyan banks now have scholarship programs that target bright children who are going into high school.

  • The pioneer of this is Equity Bank, who’s foundation program dubbed Wings To Fly will this year hand out 2,000 scholarships to school children entering high school. They target students with financial needs who scored more than  350 marks in primary school exams who’s results were announced last week. The program has helped over 10,000 since inception and students or their families can collect applications from their local bank branches. The support includes fees, pocket money, a pair of shoes each year and participation in a mentorship and leadership program. Also, in 2015, 65 students  received overseas university scholarships from the Foundations’ Equity Leaders Program.
  • KCB, through its Foundation has a scholarship program that will support 240 children from all counties through their secondary schools, and this will include tuition, uniform, books, and mentorship. KCB also has partnerships that support scholarships through the Palmhouse Foundation, Starehe Girls, & Starehe Boys schools, and others that donate books, renovate classes and provide water tanks to schools. The total figure is about Ksh 100 million ($1 million) for 2016. Their research shows that Kenya has one of the most expensive secondary education systems in Africa. Presently, fees for national and county schools range from KSh45,000 to KSh136,000 (~$1,360) year, which is not affordable for many parents.
  • Cooperative Bank is going to award scholarships to 655 children through their Foundation Scholarship Scheme for 2016. 420 will be selected by the bank and 235 will be awarded by county governments in each of the 47 counties in Kenya (at 5 per county).  The bank will also pay for the university education of 130 of the top students in the secondary school examinations.
  • Family Bank has an education program that includes secondary school scholarships and a talent program that gives employment opportunities to top kids after high school.

Mining Moment: Base Titanium June 2015

Base Resources released their quarterly report for the period ending June 30 2015 about Kwale Mineral Sands Operations (commonly known as Base Titanium)

Managing Director Tim Carstens gave updates on various aspects during the quarter including:

  • It’s been an excellent performance over 20 months with operations on target and with a very good safety record.
  • They shipped 100,000 tons from their Likoni port to customers during the quarter. However, for their rutile, ilmenite, and zircon, prices are now 1/3 of what they were two years ago. They export all over, but  with Ilmenite, of which China is the largest market, 60% of companies shipping there are losing money.
  • Carstens said the proposed Kenyan mining bill is a good thing, and soon there will be a  new mining act but they want things to be addressed that meet global best practices. They pay royalties of 2.5% of sale value as per their agreement. The Cabinet Secretary wants this to be much higher, and they have offered 5%  which is the highest in the world. Note: the senate passed the mining bill on July 29. Also there have been no more invoices from Kwale county who sent one in June 2014, a move that they fought, along with the attorney general.
  • Of the $25 million of VAT owed to the company by the Kenya Revenue Authority, they received a payment of $2 million in July and are grateful that KRA has commenced payments
  • Kenyans still don’t invest in mining. The shareholding of Kenyans is still 1%, and that’s not going to change for a few more years when Kenyans get more comfortable taking on mining risk. They hope to turn base titanium into a more Kenyan company with more local shareholders and board members.
  • In June, they made a first principal repayment of US$11 million on their $258 million. In July, they got a loan from one shareholder, Taurus Funds and are seeking to refinance other loans to smooth their cash flows as debt repayments are eating most of the current operating profit. While they had an operating surplus of $20 million in the quarter,  $11 million went to the principal debt, and $8 million went to interest payments. They expect to complete the debt rescheduling in the next quarter.
  • Staff: 92% of the 600 employees are Kenyan, and they plan to go to 97% through training. 25% of the manager are Kenyans and 62% of staff are from Kwale, with 16% of the staff being female which is high for the mining sector.
  • They are involved in CSR  work with over 100 projects in the community  20 of these are  educational, and 200 students are getting scholarships from the company.  The company planted 9,000 indigenous tree seedlings  in the quarter and is working with local farmers on cotton, chicken, and potato projects to help them graduate to industrial-scale farming.