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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Business/Make Money Feature: Is Finance All That Hinders You From Going Into Business For Yourself?

Recently I got an opportunity to make a brief presentation to a small group that is in the process of launching a business project. My presentation focused on the Toyota Motor Corporation's JIT (just in time manufacturing). There was also an emphasis on how letting your customers raise the capital to lift your business enterprise to success (which started with Ford founder and the inventor of the Assembly line, Henry Ford) can be used to dramatically cut down on the risks of financial losses in any enterprise.

I quickly realized how naïve I really was to have thought that I would go in there and change mind sets with one small inspiring presentation. One man even told me right in my face that I was lying and that there was no way that Toyota would manufacture vehicles in the way I "dared to suggest". I quietly referred them to the company web site and also asked them to do a little research using a search engine and the key words "just in time manufacturing." That whole episode really shook me. Just in time manufacturing is the revolutionary production process used by the most efficient manufacturing company in the world to manufacture cars only according to demand and with virtually no waste of resources or raw materials.

Another gentleman at the presentation who is a senior accountant with a large multi-national stuck to his mantra, no doubt written on stone in his heart after years of service to his employer – "nothing moves without a budget," he kept saying in many different ways.

I realized that one of the biggest problems facing would-be entrepreneurs in Kenya and indeed Africa today is not capital but a mindset that won't change. Many Kenyans today would give an arm and a leg (and a spouse – as many have already done) to get an opportunity to go to the United States. Even with the rapidly changing situation in that country, the vast majority of Kenyans strongly believe that all they have to do to become millionaires is get to America (the end justifying any means used).

Yet in that great nation I wonder if the founding fathers (all immigrants) sat down to create a budget before they went in. Where did they get the capital to build this great enterprise called The USA Inc.?

The best-documented example of this old argument, of whether it is acceptable to launch a business without capital or financing, being played out involved Henry Ford himself. The founder of the Ford Motor company just couldn't stand bankers. His belief was that to start a business, you created a product and if it could get customers, you then used the proceeds to build another unit so that it was the customers who "financed" the business. The huge advantage, old man Ford said, was that if the business was not viable, one would not need to waste a ton of capital to find out. It would simply never take off and the person would then be free to try something else, without the burden of debt hanging over their necks and following them to their next enterprise.

Many people ridiculed Henry Ford for these "radical" ideas. No doubt it did not help that he had very limited formal education. However that did not stop Ford from proving practically just how viable his ideas were.

(to be continued… Next Week: How You Can Launch A Part Time Business using this principle.)

Kumekucha launches campaign for the Presidency of Kenya

Presidential Campaign 2007

My dear fellow Kenyans, today I launch in this blog this regular feature that will be a platform to campaign for the presidency of Kenya. This is a unique campaign because unlike other campaigns it does not start with a personality or (God forbid) a tribe and its' interests. In fact we do not have a candidate yet although I am persuaded that we will ultimately find a young Kenyan, born in 1963 or thereabouts to carry forward this very important agenda and issues in a campaign for the presidency.

The time has come when we must look at presidential campaigns differently. Instead of focusing on one's chances of winning (hence the tribal arithmetic quickly coming into play) we now need candidates whose urgent priority will be to be identified with certain issues. Candidates who will have a clear agenda. That is what should get them a following and not the tribe they happen to belong to. We need men and women who are prepared to stand with a certain cause and are willing to stick with it for the long haul if that is what it will take to finally get the support they need to win. We need Kenyan men and women of integrity who when they finally win will use the opportunity entrusted on them by fellow Kenyans, not to enrich themselves but to bring about genuine change and genuine benefits to our beloved nation.

In 2002 we were all delighted that KANU had finally gone – or so we thought. There was such euphoria in the air. Today Kenyans are wiser. One lesson that has clearly come out is that those who took over the reigns of power on that memorable December day, 2002, did not do so with the right motives in mind. Let alone any clear ideas or policies other than to remove Kanu and ascend to power mainly for themselves and for the people second.

Former cabinet minister Kiraitu Muriungi's famous message to former President Moi, still stands out and hangs there shamefully fluttering in the wind as a stark reminder that the politicians Kenyans have known thus far have mainly spoken far too quickly and acted far too slowly or not at all. Hon Muriungi told Moi to retire quietly to his farm in Kabarak and sit back and take some lessons on how a government should be run. Alas, today it is that same Moi who has come back to give some lessons to that same government on how to run a government. Mostly how they can survive in power against the will of the majority of Kenyans yearning for genuine change and feeling very much cheated after 2002. The tactics they intend to use are similar to those that Moi used to stay in power against the will of the majority of Kenyans for many years. Those tactics were used by colonialists very effectively. They are the tactics of divide and rule that thrive on generating tribal animosity.

Since the launch of this blog on a whim, almost two years ago, I have tried very hard to stick to our simple vision and mission. And that is to push for a change of leadership in Kenya where the baton would be passed on to a new, younger generation of Kenyans.

Since that time, some progress has been made, younger people's interest in politics has gathered momentum tremendously and many lobby groups and organizations have been formed. This blog does not claim any credit for what has happened, what we see is proof that here is an idea whose time has come.

Sadly at the same time, the generation of our fathers and grandfathers, desperately fighting to cling onto power has continued in their bad old habits. Only that this time with more political freedom, these politics of appealing to tribal sentiments and fighting for the interests or share in the national cake specifically on behalf and for certain tribes or communities is just too dangerous.

We just need to take a quick look at what happened in neighbouring Somalia and a number of Eastern countries where we have witnessed so called ethnic cleansing, to see this.

The numerous problems facing Kenya today can be turned into opportunities but this is not going to happen if we insist on using yesterday's tired methods being promoted by yesterday's crop of old tired leaders.

A wise man once said that a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. The nation that man came from is now a super power. Please join me as I take this single step, this humble beginning to make a difference in our beloved nation.

A True Kenyan Story: A Doctor's Revenge



Not far from Nairobi is a small town full of history called Limuru. If you take the time to talk to locals and ask them about the story of the doctor's revenge, they will tell you this bizzare tale I am about to repeat here.

It all centers around this young Kenyan surgeon who married this beautiful young Kenyan lady whose exact birthplace or origin I cannot quite remember, but she was Kikuyu like the good doctor.

Their life seemed to be happy enough. The doctor, like most surgeons in Kenya was making a good regular income and his young wife lacked for nothing. The only problem was that her husband usually worked late and so she inevitably started getting a little bored and lonely, like many housewives usually do.

There was this young local chief in the area who was a family friend and a regular visitor to the house. Many times when he would visit, the good doctor would be at work. One thing led to another and soon the chief was more than just a family friend to the surgeon's wife.

The rumours finally reached the doctor who was furious, naturally. What really hurt him most must have been the betrayal by the chief, whom he considered a very close friend. Still he held his peace and quietly made his plans.

He faked a long trip out of town but returned in the wee hours, parking his car very far from the house. Now those who have been to Limuru know that it is a very quiet place that can get very cold sometimes. When it gets chilly people tend to sleep so soundly that it would take something close to a bomb to wake them up.

The doctor's wife and the honorable chief were in this kind of sleep. It is said that the doctor walked into his bedroom with all his surgical equipment. When he was done, the chief's status had been changed such that he would never again in his life be able to come anywhere near a woman. Surgery complete and stitched up by the expert hands of the surgeon so that no scar would ever be left, the good doctor made his exit leaving his dear wife and castrated local chief still in deep sleep on his marital bed. He drove back to his "long out of town trip".

Innocently, the doctor returned the next day to be warmly welcomed by his wife. Life continued as it always had for the picture perfect couple. What changed for the doctor was this amused look folks in town always gave him whenever they met him. Some could not hold back a snigger or two. Many women openly giggled while others would burst into loud laughter the moment the doctor and his wife were out of ear shot.

The chief? He disappeared. Nobody knows exactly where he went because he was never heard of again.

That's what I call a permanent surgical solution to a chronic ailment.

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