When getting your news on entrepreneurship, in Kenya, you may feel like all the cool stuff is reserved for tech entrepreneurs. I mean really cool things like incubation hubs and venture capitalists money.
It’s not. Whatever sector you’re involved in, you too can catch up with how the world operates today. True, our country can appear dysfunctional more often than not and that makes your business harder.
But Kenya is also at a nascent stage of development. This means that you, me and anyone else can succeed doing relatively simple things like value addition for agricultural products or availing to people service they still don’t have access too. This is one of the reasons you should not support barriers to flow of technical skills, that some people sell as a good thing.
In addition to this reality, you are also expected to balance that with the disruptive nature of industrialization 4.0, as it’s called. The best analogy I can use to describe the situation is how 90s babies in Kenya thought they would finish school and get that bank hall job. To their shock, bank halls are quickly becoming irrelevant (yet they were taught for…never mind). You probably go to halls to sort your sim card and not do banking.
This balancing act is part of how you are expected to think globally. One half of it is a local challenge and the other is a global challenge. Social entrepreneurs and Environmentalist lay claim to the phrase. They have been actively making change at a grassroots level with global outcomes, for the longest time.
If you’re running a small business in Kenya, it’s easy to believe that these kinds of things are not relevant to you. What does “industrialization 4.0” have to do with you selling attire, cosmetics, food or electronics to folks in Nairobi? At best, they are for other entrepreneurs involved in the export business. You’re not exporting yet because you don’t have enough funding to do it, you haven’t gotten around the gatekeepers yet (Cartels + Government) or you have not received training on how export businesses operate. We’re cheering on you to get there.
Why think globally?
For anything, you need to think globally like an exporter so that you can enjoy their strengths in your field of business. They comply to higher standards in quality of product and management. This can help you generate much more sales. Who doesn’t want that? The mentality can help you become more resilient to the difficult small business environment in Kenya. There are many entrepreneurs who are quickly broken by something as simple as new competitors. How could they possibly handle international trade?
The number one thing to do to get to that higher standard is being ready. Many entrepreneurs end up finding that they are not ready to take up an order, they don’t have everything in place when investment opportunity arises or didn’t have the right team to do the right work. Hopefully, this has never been you.
You may actually be on your way there and you may not even notice it. Do you engage with your customers online? Do you sell anything online? You think globally.
One of the tools for this was unveiled for you just the other day. You can move money between your M-Pesa and PayPal accounts (see, no bank halls). All you have to do is link the two using your phone number. You will deposit money to PayPal through the PayBill number 800088. Your phone number is the account number. To move money to M-Pesa you only have to withdraw through the transaction portal. A chance to boost your global link and to diversify your work sounds like a good deal to me.
That is easy, you can do it right now. But how will you deal with a lack of adequate resources as a small business owner? We’ve mention this many times before. A senior bank representative also brought it up as a way for Kenyan entrepreneurs to compete in the East African market. You have to be willing to work with other small business. The least you will get out of that is contacts to widen your network. Sometimes to start a fruitful relationship, you’ll have to be the one to make the first move.0