Photo: African Markets

7 interesting things that made the news this week (12th May – 18th May)

Didn’t have time to catch up with all of the week’s stories? Relax, follow HerBusiness commentary of the most interesting items that made the news headlines, every week.

Coca-Cola opens Hotfill line

Coca-Cola opened a new sh.7 billion line at its Embakasi plant that will be a boon to job creation. Entrepreneurs supplying inputs, like mangoes, will also cheer on this news. President Uhuru Kenyatta, who was present, said the Government will pay attention to the new 40% local content policy, that puts Kenyan producers in front of the line. It’s time to produce things. The new line will produce 28,000 bottles, of fresh juice, iced tea and sports drink, per hour. It uses hotfill technology that eliminates preservatives from the process. Coca-Cola Beverages Africa Managing Director, Daryl Wilson said, “The natural hotfill line process largely takes out preservatives unlike all our factories in Kenya. Instead, the product goes into the bottle at very high temperatures.”

Only 7% of Kenyan women own land

Nice sub-title, no? We didn’t bait you. You simply saw that it was important to read on. According to a 2014 study by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), only 7% of Kenyan women own land. This is in comparison to 30% of Kenyan men owning land. This is really​ bad because, one, these are the worst readings in the East African Community (EAC). Secondly, Kenyan women run 75% of farms in the country. For entrepreneurship, this lack of collateral tells part of the story on why women entrepreneurs in Kenya have a smaller share of credit. UNCTAD attributes the stats to cultural norms and lack of awareness on how Kenya’s progressive Constitution gives equal rights on land ownership and inheritance. For instance, formal marriage guarantees joint-ownership of land.

MEST Africa Challenge

Application for the MEST Africa Challenge closed in April this year. It MEST’s first Pan-Africa pitching competition. Selected startups were to get a chance to pitch, in Capetown, to executives and investors from all over the world. The winners for this chance of up to sh.5 million in equity investment are now known. We are not surprised, a Kenyan firm made the cut. How many role models do you want before you start applying for the countless opportunities on our Opportunity Page? Keep refreshing that page fam.  Data Integrated, founded by Mary Mwangi, is a payments solutions startup. Nigeria, South Africa and Ghana, each, also had one tech startup selected.

Derivatives markets will be with us shortly

Derivatives are financial instruments intended for securing the value of an asset against future changes in prices. Evil people use them to speculate. The Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) revealed that it will test launch a derivatives markets in Kenya within 6 months. It’s part of NSE’s 2015-2019 strategy to become globally competitive. We welcome improvement of Kenya’s financial industry. NSE got approval from the Central Bank but the test will be limited to select participants and product categories. NSE also revealed that Stanbic Bank and Coop Bank will “participate as clearing and settlement members during the pilot testing phase.”

Buy Kenya, Build Kenya

Hope you’re​ not one of those people who celebrate the arrival of foreign “junk food” companies as a symbol of Kenya’s growing middle-class. The food is called junk ffs. Anyway, the Government and lobbyists have done good to arrive at a consensus to promote local production over imports. Imported goods are set to become expensive. The Government will increase levies on imported finished goods. But raw materials and machines will see an exemption from Import Declaration Fee and Railway Development Fee. These are set to be included in the Finance Bill that will fund the Government for a year, starting July. The Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) was one of the entities that got to make a case to the President.

Take care on social media

President Uhuru Kenyatta assented to The Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Bill 2018 this week. Repercussions? You could end up paying as much as sh.5 million in a fine or face up to 2 years in jail time for bullying others online or peddling fake news. The Government also now has authority to seize your computer data. The National Computer and Cybercrimes Coordination Committee has been established by the new law to oversee things. Journalists, Bloggers and Social media users in Kenya have been up in arms over this move to “criminalize free speech.” I don’t know, economic freedom before political freedom as a Chinese dude once said.

Starehe Boys Centre

It’s so unfortunate how an institution intent on noble-cause and excellence seems to be in free fall. Starehe Boys Centre was established to educate unfortunate, brilliant boys. Some of the issues that have come up recently​ include a first-ever employee strike, in-fighting over conflict of interest and inadequate funds to sponsor the students. The latest? Charles Masheti was forced from the director post just 6 months into the job.

The school has lost on reputation since its founding director, Geoffrey Griffins, passed on in 2005.

Photo: Starehe Boys Centre