+ Do you have what it takes to be a VC? The VCAT (Venture Capitalist aptitude test).
+ Flow: The Game.
Check it out and get addicted.
+ Need a control interface for a high complexity project? Try The Lemur.
+ Consultants as a development tool. 1 and 2.
+ A Kenyan Towns Offer of Aid Pays Dividends for Its youth (behind the NY Times paywall, try bugmenot.com for a username/password).
+ An ongoing theme on other blogs but one that needs to be addressed all the same. China flexes its muscle.
+ Paralyzed by Aid? De Spiegel on Aid in Africa
+ Airport frustrations.
This is my take on how to make friends and influence people at airports wherever. Without having to carry an extension cord.
Thats right people, I have an splitter at the end of my laptop power cable, it makes me all kinds of friends.
+ On Kenyan entrepreneurship
I already wrote a little about Mama Mikes’. I tried to get involved in some debate going on at KenyanPundit by leaving a comment on what ails Kenyan entrepreneurship but all my attempts to get the comment up thwarted by a blog engine that decided to swallow chunks of my writing each time I posted. As a work-around, I decided to post some thoughts here and cross link to that debate at KenyanPundit.
I am of the opinion that Kenyan entrepreneurship is on the cusp of something big.
One of the biggest problems in the past was that of political patronage. Up to maybe 5 years ago, one did not really “build” a successfull business in Kenya. The accepted path was to “link up” with political patron with some pull and get your business connected to the “real deal”. This was always some sort of government contract to provide services or products to public sector projects. As a result, we all lived through and heard all types of horror stories coming out of the way in which this type of business was conducted. Some of the more magnificent stories from this period include the one about the contractor responsible for supplying clorine for treating water for the entire City of Nairobi who chose to supply chalk instead.
Anyway, I digress.
With governance improving, we are getting back to the point where people with viable ideas can create and grow great small and medium businesses in the long term. I think that Mama Mike’s is an example ofa great idea whose time is coming. Once KTs can get past the initial mental obstacles associated with doing business with a Kenyan company over the web especially with credit cards, this is a project that will grow in leaps and bounds. Maybe I can even do some business with this this Christmas season.
It is also important to mention that I disagree with the idea that there is a dearth of investment opportunities in Kenya? What with the mobile phones, the pending implosion of the housing/land market, net and the sub-par services offered by many stockbrokers who are the effective gateway to the NSE, I want to argue that there are a host of new business opportunities coming up from cell based businesses (money-transfer/banking applications) to internet based businesses (legal transcription, customer service/application development).
Even the stock exchange is a viable option if you have more than Kshs 500,000 to get you in at the better brokerages like Krestrel.
For starters, anyone can see that there is a glut of capital in Kenya. Look at the booming construction industry coupled with decent growth and an economic revival thanks to ever increasing numbers of tourists coupled with improved prices for agricultural produce. (I could link to documentation on all of this but these are just comments)
I think that a huge part of the problem though is the fact that Kenyan big money is still pretty myopic in terms of what it will invest it. They will certain invest in KCB/KQ/StanChart/KenGen IPO for tens of millions or pump another 5m Kshs into a gas station (this seems to be the business of choice for Kenyans looking to strike it rich) but they will not put up <5m Kshs to get a small company off the ground. I would love to see the Kenyan bank that would put <5m Kshs into a 3-5 person group (with no political patronage) with a big idea. They will give you 5m Kshs for a gas station though or 100m Kshs to Uchumi.
I would love to see an investor/bank or two set up an startup incubator: basically office/lab/work space + infrastruture and a small amount of funding and a small paycheck for groups like these in return for a reasonable fraction of the business if it takes off. It makes it easier for entrepreneurs to try their hand at business and is profitable all around. Having an incubator minimizes risks since having just one or two successes will more than adeqautely cover the cost of carrying a bunch of other failed projects.
Any other thoughts/ideas out there: I would love to see some debate/talk about this especially if we could get a potential investor to chime in.