Category Archives: SME solutions

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.

Makueni County Healthcare

The Makueni County government is this week conducting new registration for a universal healthcare program in the 60 sub-wards in the county.  The Makueni University Healthcare program will provide essential health services to county residents at eight sub-county hospitals, and the county referral hospital.

It is being lauded and Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana who previously battled with the county assembly (parliament) that he was elected alongside in 2013, now appears to be enjoying a resurgence after his re-election on August 8 which he easily won, while 29 of the 30 county assembly legislators (MCA’s) were voted out.

The MCA’s had tried to impeach the Governor and he subsequently moved to dissolve the entire county government. A commission on inquiry looked into the disputes at Makueni and made some recommendations to the President, but as he never forwarded the report to the Senate for debate and approval, the situation was never fully resolved, until the 2017 election.

In promoting the Makueni health care program, the county government states the high level of poverty (60%) in the region as a reason why they set out to provide free health care to senior citizens (above 65 years of age) in the county through a pilot program in 2016. They deemed it a success and decided to expand it to universal health care and they have already enrolled another 33,344 households, excluding the senior citizens. The ongoing registration aims to net 180,000 new households and the benefits of the program will be improved health care with no out-of-pocket expenses for households which have previously resorted to selling livestock or land to meet family medical expenses. During the test phases, Kshs 138 million was expensed, with the bulk of that going to pharmacy expenses (33%), then inpatient (24%) and laboratory (15%) expenses.

The Makueni program will pay for emergency healthcare, laboratory, radiology, theater, cancer screening, drugs, and ambulance evacuation, among other expenses. The cost is Kshs 500 per year for a household and that will cover a nuclear family – beneficiary, spouse(s) and dependents of school going age. It is separate from the government’s national hospital insurance fund (NHIF), and Makueni will not cover services outside the county, such as scans, MRI’s, post-mortems, ICU, dialysis, and other specialized services not available within the county.

The ambitious and novel Makueni program is similar to one in Muranga county that sought to mobilize savings for county investments, but which was scuttled by regulators and wary investors.

The latest Auditor General (OAG) reports on Makueni noted that the county government received (2015) revenue of Kshs 6.3 billion (that included Kshs 5.9 billion from the national government) and that Kshs 5.4 billion was spent, leaving a Kshs 0.9 billion surplus. The OAG noted the disruption of the government activities but gave an adverse opinion on the Makueni county assembly (legislators) accounts while those of the county government (executive) were qualified. The executive was flagged for operating bank accounts at banks other than the Central Bank, and also for issues with the procurement of assets and construction of dams. The report on the assembly noted issues with lack of supporting documentation, hiring of professionals, including lawyers in the case against the governor, and trips that Makueni MCA’s had made to Mauritius, Boston, London, Malaysia Dubai and Singapore.

Carrefour in Kenya

Majid Al Futtaim had grand plans for the Carrefour franchise in Kenya which they have since accelerated as other supermarket chains have encountered financial difficulties. This was revealed at a media session by Majid Al Futtaim managers at their Two Rivers Mall office,  located at their second hypermarket in Nairobi. The company which is the leading operator of malls in the Middle East and North Africa holds franchises for Carrefour stores in 38 countries, including 14 in Africa.

Their Country Manager for Kenya, Franck Moreau said they had an initial target to open 5 hypermarkets and 10 supermarkets within 5 years but that has all changed now. When Majid Al Futtaim decided to invest in East Africa, back in 2012, local retailers like Nakumatt and Uchumi were doing quite well. The took up a 20-year lease at Two Rivers, opened their first Kenya store at the Hub in May 2016, and in the last two months, they have signed on to replace Nakumatt as the anchor tenant at two large malls in Nairobi – at TRM on Thika Highway and the Junction Mall on Ngong Road. 

They operate decentralized hypermarkets with each store doing its own ordering, deliveries, storage, handling, marketing, maintenance, payments, and human resources all at the store sites. The financial aim is to create value and market share while meeting or exceeding budgets, and going by current trends in e-commerce, they target to have 15% of online sales in the next two years.

Majid Al Futtaim operates 220 stores in 15 countries, serving 200,000 customers a day. They plan to reach at 500 stores in 5 years with the “great moments, every day, for everyone” theme through innovation in customer service, being a great employer, and working with local suppliers as they take the hypermarket store and adapt it for different countries, customers and cultures.

For Kenya, 1,000 unique products items are imported by Carrefour to differentiate the stores from other supermarkets, and 29,000 other items are sourced from 650 Kenyan suppliers that they work with. Moreau said 50% of their customers at Two Rivers are from the neighbouring Ruaka area who come to shop at Carrefour for the quality, fresh, and available range of products for different classes. But he added that one unique Kenyan thing was a distrust of ‘promotions’ (buyers think there is something wrong with the products on sale) and they are the only supermarket chain asking suppliers for to give continuous and permanent promotions.

The conversion of malls stores to fit the Carrefour model takes time and large investments which Moreau  estimated was five times more than what other local retailers spent on their stores and that it will take about nine months to convert the spaces they are taking over at the Junction and TRM  to full completion, by which time they will have over 1,100 employees in Kenya.

EDIT Feb 27, 2018:  Majid Al Futtaim announced plans to open its fifth Carrefour hypermarket in Kenya at Sarit Centre, in Westlands Nairobi, just a few days after Uchumi ended their 30 year lease at Kenya’s iconic mall. The new Carrefour  will be opened in April 2018, initially on the ground floor and will later relocate into a new wing of Sarit Centre that will be completed before the end of the year.

Loan Interest Rates in 1997

Today, loan interest rates are capped at 14%, but what were they like twenty years ago? Here are excerpts from a  Weekly Review magazine issue from December 1997 a time of pre-election jitters, election financing, donor funding cutoffs, high inflation after Goldenberg, a depressed property market, and collapsing banks. This was after the move to streamline the sector through a universal banking law which led more financial institutions to convert into commercial banks, and later to merge.

Commercial bank base lending rates

24% 
Mashreq Bank
Habib Bank
25%
Development Bank
Kenya Commercial Bank
Equatorial Commercial Bank
Co-Op Merchant Bank
Credit Agricole Indosuez

26%
National Bank of Kenya
Fidelity Commercial Bank
Barclays Bank of Kenya
Investment & Mortgages Bank

27%
Consolidated Bank of Kenya
CFC Bank
Cooperative Bank
City Finance Bank
Habib A.G. Zurich
A.M. Bank
Chase Bank
Bank of Baroda
Habib African Bank
Standard Chartered Bank
Bank of India
First American Bank
Giro Bank

Interest rates, from a Weekly Review magazine, December 1997

28%
Citibank N.A.
Guardian Bank
Prudential Bank
Trust Bank
Paramount Bank
Commercial Bank of Africa
Stanbic Bank
ABN Amro Bank

29%
Universal Bank
African Banking Corporation
Biashara Bank
Prime Bank
Akiba Bank
Middle East Bank
Victoria Bank

30%
Transnational Bank
Imperial Bank
Bullion Bank
First National Fin. Bank
Daima Bank
Guilders Bank
National Industrial Credit Bank
Reliance Bank
Ari Bank Corporation
Credit Bank
Southern Credit Bank
Diamond Trust Bank
Delphis Bank
Fina Bank
Commerce Bank

Strathmore Promotes Agri Export Business Opportunities

On Thursday at Strathmore Business School, there was a session to highlight some of the opportunities and challenges for Kenyan companies that wanted to get into the farm export business.

Kenya is known for flower exports, but not so much for fruits and vegetables which can be quite lucrative and are better suited to the climate here. An example was cited that a kilo of dhania (coriander) that sells for Kshs 50 per kilo in Nairobi, can fetch €3-4 euros in Europe.

Some excerpts

Export fruits and vegetables

  • Know the markets. Buyers have no obligation to buying from Kenyans. Companies have to know how to sell at expos where everyone is selling the same fruits and vegetables.
  • Kenyans are known for sending good samples, but the problem that buyers in other countries have with many Kenya companies is that they are later not consistent in quality and quantity of food exports. 
  • How to identify opportunities and threats in the news; Things like Brexit, earthquakes and climate changes and others like Muslim migration across Europe.
  • One can’t venture into exports unless they interact with the government – HCDA, Export Promotion Council, KEPHIS and others like the FPEAK, and the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce & Industry. Also, potential exporters must update themselves on changing regulations.
  • How to manage finance when upfront payments are rare, and there are international frauds who take deliveries but don’t pay. Also how to avoid the many fake consultants.  
  • The biggest challenge in this country is labour, not capital! One solution is shared labour for exporters and farms who can’t employ full-time skilled workers.
  • If one is not in charge of their own logistics, they are not in business. 

The Strathmore Business School exploring international markets program class takes place early next year and involves two modules: The first will take the class to the Fruit Logistica in Berlin, in February 2018 which is the world’s leading trade fair for the international fresh produce business where they will learn about the packaging, presentation, logistics, marketing. and other business aspects at the fair that had had 3,000 exhibitors from 84 countries and 76,000 visitors this year. Then at module two in Nairobi, they will learn about local production, logistics, local bank and financial options, obtaining global certification, branding, and other aspects of the food value chain. The deadline for applications is December 20.