They want to dictate their own hours, to work when they’re most productive, to use digital tools to collaborate, share information and get the job done – as quickly as possible.Think back to the last time you attended a meeting with millennials. Did they seem disengaged? Distracted by their devices? More interested in what was happening on the other side of the window?
Could you not help but think back to when you were that age, when you diligently recorded appointments in paper diaries; when you paid attention to every word that was spoken during long internal meetings; when email and mobiles were only just entering the workplace and collaboration was a face-to-face exercise?
Young adults of today, right?
But let me tell you something about this younger generation of today. These digital natives make up 35% of the workforce. By 2020, that figure will rise to 46%. In ten years, they’ll represent 75% of the working population.
They are demanding change. They want to dictate their own hours, to work when they’re most productive, to use digital tools to collaborate, share information and get the job done – as quickly as possible.
The more things change, the more they stay the same
The winds of change are blowing through every enterprise but there’s one thing that hasn’t changed: meetings. If we’re honest, meetings are usually distracting, they often don’t achieve much and they hamper productivity.
And why are they always an hour long (or sometimes longer)?
If there’s one thing we can learn from this younger generation, it’s the value they place on their time. Why gather everyone in a room to discuss a project for an hour when it could just as easily be done in minutes over Slack or a quick chat at the coffee machine? Why pull everyone away from their work when a message on Skype for Business or WhatsApp is more effective?
Here are a few ways you can improve collaboration and productivity, while making the most of your meetings:
- Embrace technology. Standardise on a set of collaborative digital tools that make it easy to coordinate tasks and projects. With Slack, for example, you can quickly set up ‘channels’ by project, client or team, so that you can chat and share files in real-time.
- ALSO READ: Why knowledge management is key to business success
- Set an agenda. Outline what needs to be achieved or agreed upon by the end of the meeting and send it to all participants beforehand. This gives them time to prepare, resulting in shorter, more effective meetings. The agenda keeps everyone on track and helps the organiser to prepare adequately. Also, never call last-minute meetings. These are almost always a waste of time because attendees don’t have time to prepare and may feel disrupted.
- Schedule shorter meetings. Having an agenda keeps everyone focused and lets you achieve more in less time. Communications expert Andy Bounds suggests limiting meetings to a maximum of 45 minutes. Shaving off 15 minutes from one meeting a day buys back an entire working week at the end of a year.
- If a meeting is not going to be a valuable use of your time, decline it. The meeting organiser should have a solid reason why you need to attend and should only include people who can make a meaningful contribution to the action points. Ask the organiser what they need from you and see if you can supply that information over email. If you can’t add value to the discussion, excuse yourself from the meeting.
- Plan for internal meetings. Tell your team when you are available for internal meetings and ask them to respect your time. Similarly, if you’re the one organising the meeting, be considerate of your team and clients’ time – is it crucial that they attend?
Meetings aren’t all bad. They can be good for team morale, collaboration and brainstorming. Cutting down on the quantity and focusing on the quality of meetings can make an enormous difference to productivity and employee satisfaction.
Make the few meetings you have more meaningful, and you and your team will find them more productive.
Keith Fenner Vice-President, Sage Enterprise Africa & Middle East.
Software that turned Sh15k into Sh120 million business
From a small loan from a friend, Raymond Cheruiyot makes more than Sh10 million per month (SCROLL DOWN TO READ HIS STORY)
Raymond Cheruiyot considers himself a successful entrepreneur nine years after resigning from his job to run own business. But the proprietor of Accounts and Financial East Africa Limited says he had a baptism of fire along the way.
He was passionate about setting up and tried partnerships that did not work. Mr Cheruiyot opted for debt to register a company, egged on by the picture of success, therefore ignoring possible risks, storms, and stories of gloom and doom.
But the storm came sooner rather than later. The result of which was frustration and a debt that was building fast; he almost ended up in jail. “I was 28 when I resigned as a software technologist having studied for Bachelor of Science degree from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) where I graduated in 2003,’’ Mr Cheruiyot says.
He used his savings to buy a laptop “and was sure one computer, one man attitude and one million dollar ideas could unlock my success”. “I have always wanted to venture into self-employment through technology business but I was not aware that there is a big difference between reality and wishful thinking,’’ he said.
In a small office at Railway Station in Nairobi, he established and paid a rent of Ksh22,000, which was the balance of his savings. “The office was meant to give me a corporate touch as I did freelance consultancy jobs waiting to register my business. The opportunities were not forthcoming and I had to seek Ksh15,000 from a friend as a soft loan to register the company.’’
This did not work, as the banks asked for a guarantor for a loan, he had none and was forced to ask for a private consultancy position from former employer. “A friend who lent me Ksh15,000 to register my firm saw me as a joker who had quit a job where I was earning Ksh55,000. I convinced myself that I had to breathe again,’’ explained Mr Cheruiyoit, hardly audible.
He got another chance to work for former employer for six months, during which time he marketed himself as a professional software expert. The biggest challenge was getting business as a start-up, he said, adding that former employer had informed his clients he had left, “making it a bit hard getting business on my own.’’
Then, one day, one of the clients called and offered an opportunity to compile reports. He would earn Ksh20,000 while freelance jobs raised his income to Ksh80,000 monthly. This enabled him to set up a website.
A deal that looked very good almost killed the business. A multinational company was looking for a supplier to install a software but his company did not make the short-list due to limited experience. “But the ambition was bigger,’’ he said, adding that he sought to work in partnership with a big firm in the deal for a commission. He never got paid Sh1.5 million for the work in a web of debt. “I became the sacrificial lamb and all my earnings were used to settle the arrears,’’ he said.
But he used the difficult times to scale the heights of entrepreneurship. His “turning point” came when Sage International appointed him as their authorised partner in Kenya in 2009.
Today, he makes more than Sh10 million per month, or Sh120 million per year. Some of his clients have included EABL, AAR, Catholic University, Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services (Kephis), Express Kenya, and Crowne Plaza. “We advise customers on business process management where we identify the needs and implement.’’ For a lesson, he says that “I have learnt to appreciate passion, the drive, and patience.’’
His firm has satellite presence in Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda and is now targeting South Sudan early next year. He employs over 20 people and runs a foundation that pays school fees for needy children in his rural home.
“My upbringing was humbling and I pay the school fees for the poor children from secondary to university. We have seven beneficiaries of the fees programme.’’ Mr Cheruiyot says he works smart and believes in quality and credibility. (Source: BiznaKenya)
SEE ALSO: 24 easy ways to become a millionaire
Gina Din Kariuki opens up on her struggles
Public Relations pioneer opens up on he struggles to success and the lessons she has learnt as a female entrepreneur
Gina-Din Kariuki is widely admired for her resilience in shaping African conversations, and a brand evangelist with over 30 years experience in the Public Relations and Communications. She talked to to Abel Muhatia of Biznews on how she grew the most reputable PR company in the region and her current challenges in the business world.
The Gina Din Group was started in 1997 – and celebrates 20 years this year! When it started, Gina Din was one of the only standalone PR companies in Kenya. Over the years a lot has happened, she says, some good, some hard lessons. “It’s been quite a journey,” says Gina Din. “It’s been a wonderful 20 years of shaping African conversations.”
1. What’s your take on the PR industry?
Everyone sees PR people as people who “spin” stories.. I don’t spin, I evangelise particularly for brands I represent and especially when it comes to the incredible success stories we have on this continent. It is up to us, Africans to change the narrative where we only see famine, conflict, corruption and struggle. Of course I am a realist, and leadership and governance as a whole in Africa still poses challenges. However there are amazing success stories of people that have broken glass ceiling and overcome incredible challenges. I want to tell those stories. Over time, I have become more and more select on what work I do.
2. How did you decide that this is the path I want to follow in my life?
To be honest, I somewhat threw caution to the wind when I started my business. It wasn’t as if I had a plan of any sort but I realised that I wanted to do work that I was deeply passionate about. I wanted to create something that was bigger than me. There comes a point where one must stand alone. Sometimes familiarity and comfort need to be challenged. That’s when you really experience life – when you step into the unknown. Every day is different and every day I do work that fulfills me. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Gina Din-Kariuki is a mentor, respected businesswoman, philanthropist and the Founder and Executive Chair of the Gina Din Group. With over 30 years of management service and experience providing state of the art media and communication strategy to corporates, governments and NGOs both in Africa and abroad, Gina has built a reputation as a leading authority in the communications field in Africa and has been named one of Africa’s 100 Most Influential People by New African magazine.
In the last few years I have increased my commitment to philanthropy. I am the Goodwill Ambassador to the Kenya Red Cross and to UNFPA as well as having my Gina Din Foundation. For me philanthropy is a lot more than simply writing a cheque. Of course providing resources is important but giving time, expertise and using my extensive global network is just as important. My foundation is fully self-funded right now, and it’s incredible the impact you can make to people’s lives by investing even a little bit in them. My involvement with UNFPA is what motivated to give back based on my personal experience of having a child that was premature and a lot of my foundation work is based on the realisation that giving to women is a powerful way to effect large-scale change in society.
3. How do you manage to keep your business relevant having in mind that technology disruption is fast rising in this generation?
We aim to stay at the top of our game in our industry, which means embracing technology and new trends, but we also do it by coming up with innovative ideas and executing them with excellence. We always want to add value. It doesn’t matter what industry you are in, people want to feel they are receiving a service that is of value and high quality – that will always be relevant to the end user.
I have had to reinvent myself a number of times in my career because things change, your clients’ needs change and I believe you remake yourself as you grow and as the world changes.
Philanthropy is a lot more than simply writing a cheque. Of course providing resources is important but giving time, expertise and using my extensive global network is just as important. Your identity doesn’t get found. It emerges.
4. How much did you need to start your business, and overcome the initial financial challenges?
I did not have capital when starting my business. I was fortunate to have a three year retainer agreement from my former employer Barclays Bank as my first client which helped me start. What I did have was faith and an inner belief in myself. When you have a new idea, you will find hundreds of people who will tell you why it cannot be done. And I had plenty of those. Do not give power to invalidating people. Believe in yourself – and believe in your idea. The learning process is to feel in your gut that you are right and that every obstacle is an opportunity.
5. How do you manage to balance between family and business?
When I was younger, I looked at my own mother — at her passionate devotion to husband, children, home and extended family — and I thought I could improve on that! I would go out into the world– out where the important things were happening. It took me – as I think it took millions of other women, as well – a few decades to see how very wrong I was. I ultimately realised that my mother’s very traditional role was far from meaningless. I now see that is a woman’s God-given role to tend to the home and take care of the children: it’s just that the entire planet is our home and every child on it is one of our children. Hell yes, women need to be out in the world if that’s where we feel led to be, but not at the expense of our spiritual mission. Rather, we’re in the world to fulfill that mission, by proclaiming that the world is our home and that we’re responsible for all of our children.
I am responsible for my family and my business, and I give my time to both. I am lucky that my work takes me to different parts of the world and that I am fortunate enough to be able to take my family with me when I can. My two children Natalya and Naythan are both in the UK. Natalya is pursuing a PHD in English Literature at Oxford University while Naythan is pursuing a BA in Football business Management at Southampton University. I try and see them as much as I can. Family is very important to me, and so is my business, so I make it a priority to give my time to both. You have to make the decision that you’re going to do it.
When you have a new idea, you will find hundreds of people who will tell you why it cannot be done. And I had plenty of those. Do not give power to invalidating people. Believe in yourself – and believe in your idea.
6. What kind of challenges do you face in your day to day work and how do you manage to overcome them?
I often meet young people who believe the PR and communications business is cool, glamorous and endless cocktail parties and travel. I must admit, I am living my dream. I love what I do but the first steps toward any dream are slow, unsexy, and inconvenient. I have handled most of corporate Kenya and it is well known that I handled Safaricom from when they started for 12 continuous years and I am absolutely delighted every time I see the name. Its success makes me so proud. I consider it a huge part of my life. But it was hard work. For a long time I would be on the phone to Michael Joseph at 6.30 am most days by which time I would have had to have read and analysed the media for the day and have a strategy for the way forward if need be.
Life has taught me that to overcome challenges you need to develop a thick skin and build an inner strength. You have to take failure and success in equal measure. Failure is bound to happen, it doesn’t matter how many accolades you have won or how successful your business is. The key is to fail forward; evaluate what went wrong, learn from your mistakes and keep going. I used to be really afraid of being outside my comfortable zone but the more experience I get the more comfortable I am being uncomfortable and that’s where most of my growth as a person happens.
7. The topic on girl child and women empowerment has been around for a long time now, do you think women have been empowered enough?
To be empowered is to have control and confidence. It’s something we should strive for, for all our children, it’s something that we need to work towards if we want to build a sustainable and equal society. There are, however, issues that are unique to women. Women still do not have the same opportunities as men when it comes to access to education, health and more.
Societal norms dictate that women should stay in the home and do a disproportionate amount of household work despite the fact that she may have ambitions that go beyond that.
And when they do enter the workforce, women are not paid as much as men for doing the same type of work. A UN report actually found that this type of disparity is costing Africa more than $100 billion every year. The question then is how can we close the gender gap, while also supporting the boy child? It will take deliberate policy and action from our leaders, but we should also expect the same type of action from each other.
8. Are you content with the ratio of women entrepreneurs in Kenya to that of men? If not, why?
Kenya – and Africa – has many women entrepreneurs in the informal sector running businesses to support their families and in many cases, their extended families and friends. These are the women who reinvest their earnings back into their communities. It’s very inspiring to see what they do. They are building our future on their backs without any formal recognition.
In the corporate sector, the number of women entrepreneurs is growing steadily but we are still outnumbered by men. And I don’t believe it’s because there aren’t women out there who want to branch into entrepreneurship and have the ability to succeed..We need to find ways to support these women more.
I love what I do but the first steps towards any dream are slow, unsexy, and inconvenient. Life has taught me that in order to overcome challenges you need to develop a thick skin and build an inner strength. You have to take failure and success in equal measure.
9. How can this ratio be improved for the sake of growing a sustainable economy and create employment?
Women need the opportunities and the tools to allow them to become the leaders and entrepreneurs that they were meant to be. It starts at the beginning with education. Women are still less likely to get an education in Africa compared to their male counterparts, which hinders their ability to go on and start and run successful businesses. Women have less access to land and credit, which is an important factor when one decides to start a company.
Women also need to look inwards to know that they have the confidence and the ability to take calculated risks and pursue their aspirations.
10. Do you think the Kenyan culture favors men more than women in the context of ownership of businesses and leadership? Should this be a worry for women empowerment?
I am saddened when I hear well-educated, successful women refer to their “choice” to spend more time with kids rather than stay on a high-powered career track. They should never have to make that choice in the first place. Instead, we need to reconstruct the very nature of those top jobs if we want to include the unique perspectives of women at the table and take advantage of an enormous talent pool.
We have made great strides when it comes to women in senior positions in private and public sectors but it’s not enough. It’s a tall order to push back against the work patterns of a highly achieving economy, and I’m not unrealistic; I know the drill from my many years working in the corporate world with two young children. But until we acknowledge honestly that the relentless demands on professional leaders discourage smart and talented women, we will fail to move the numbers significantly for women at the top. So everyone loses.
Ironically the shift can only happen by men leaning in, since they are the ones who now hold the levers of power. In Africa where we used to speak of – it takes a village to raise a child and where we no longer have villages around us, that conversation must begin in earnest.
11. What advice would you give fellow women who look up to you and would love to venture into the entrepreneurship space?
To be honest, it took me a few years to become an entrepreneur. There’s a lot of confusion on entrepreneurship because not everyone that is self-employed is an entrepreneur. Being self-employed is definitely more secure because you tend to depend mainly on yourself and your skills that you are selling. After a few years of being self-employed I began to venture in areas that required a lot more risk such as real estate development and oil exploration. Entrepreneurs have a mind-set that allows them to see opportunity everywhere.
But until we acknowledge honestly that the relentless demands on professional leaders discourage smart and talented women, we will fail to move the numbers significantly for women at the top. So everyone loses.
It could be a business idea, but it could also be seeing the possibilities in the people that can help them grow that business. Entrepreneurship is all about embracing challenges. When you’re building something from the ground up, you need to understand what your talents are and how you’re going to use them to create a business. Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle; being an entrepreneur is ingrained in one’s identity. It’s the culmination of a certain set of characteristics: determination, creativity, the capacity to risk, leadership and enthusiasm.
Being a successful entrepreneur requires a great deal of resourcefulness, because as an entrepreneur, you often run into road blocks, and I have run into several of those. You need to be able to bounce back from losses if you want to be successful. Know that you will experience disappointment, but you will also experience success.
12. What are the top three lessons you would give to up and coming entrepreneurs?
Be prepared to work hard and take a lot of risks. The work you will do will not always be easy or glamorous. Be patient and tenacious. It may take a long time before you get to where you want to be, but if you learn to love the journey it will be worth it.
If you draw up a plan for your life, make sure you draw it in pencil. I never ever thought my life would have taken me on this incredible journey I am on, it’s required a lot of risk, flexibility and faith and taken me to places I never thought I would visit and meet people from across the world that have greatly inspired me. Do it because you love it. I truly believe that’s when magic happens. (This article first appeared on BizNews)
Perpetual Kendi: Emerging queen of international PR
Perpetual Kendi’s PR company handles public affairs for Kenyan international football stars, powerful politicians and top designers
For most millennials, college days are only meant for study work and fun. If they have to work, it’s only during field attachment where they play hide and seek with supervisors. They only play nice people towards assessment, just to some earn marks.
This is not the case with Perpetual Kendi, who is in her mid-20s and already a CEO and pioneer of an international public relations (PR) company, Addleston Marketing. She secured her first job in her second year in college, which only lasted three months before the company collapsed. She earned what most modern graduates are tarmacking to earn, Ksh25,000 per month.
This pushed her to look for new opportunities, and secured an interview with a Lavington-based organization, but the demands were too much for her. “They would only pay me Ksh25,000 a month if I earned them Ksh250,000 per month. It would not be possible then for a starter, however ambitious I was,” says Kendi.
She left the interview a frustrated lady. She boarded a bodaboda back home. Out of her sociable nature she struck a conversation with the bodaboda rider, and they started talking about the elegant houses in the leafy suburbs of Lavington, which cost around Ksh180 million.
Quick calculation showed that she would work for 600 years without spending to afford such a house. But her dream was to own such a house one day. This wiped away the idea of getting employed, and that’s how she stopped applying for jobs.
The Kenyatta University Bachelor of Commerce (marketing) graduate was catapulted into business by a belt she bought at Ksh50, which her friends admired. She took the opportunity and started supplying them with such belts at Ksh150, and before she realised her business was growing. She would even persuade unwilling students to buy the belts and realised her greatest strength: persuasion.
Determined to make it big in life, she registered her first company in her third year in campus, with which she did general business with the government and NGOs. This set the stepping stone for her, as she registered another company later, the Addleston Marketing, which shone her star more and brought her to the limelight.
“Moving beyond the realm of traditional public relations and marketing tactics, we dare to go where most PR agencies won’t: creative strategy, branding, video production, social media management, guerilla efforts, and even some advertising,” says Kendi.
The four-year-old company has been her main hustle, despite facing turbulence in the first three years. She earns a relative amount every month which is enough to run the company and commit on expansion. She calls it a journey of structuring and restructuring, but most important to her are the lessons learnt in the art of delivery.
At one point, her bid was rejected by a company after the managers said that her brand was not big enough to handle the company’s products. It was one of her lowest moments.
The company is now handling public affairs for Kenyan international football stars and powerful politicians. She is also working with the country’s top designers, some working with the President and prominent people. Recently, an international organisation that is planning to carry out an insurance penetration campaign approached her company for publicity and brand entry, not to mention for the global brands that she has laid her hands on.
In what she terms as her best assignment of the moment, she is involved in a mega infrastructural project, where she is the only lady and the only youth. The rest are men, in their latter days. This makes her feel like a lioness in a pack of lions. In total, her company is engaged in projects that she describes as revolutionary and game changing.
Growth is a process
Kendi, who still has interests in finance, says that she chose to venture into international PR and media relations solely because of their (international media) objectivity and reliability.
When asked how she will outshine the existing PR and marketing companies, she says: “I am not competing against them. Everybody has a share. Growth is a process, and not a competition.”
Addleston will be re-launching next year to celebrate a five-year milestone. They will also be opening offices in other African countries in regions such as West Africa and North Africa.
The second-born in a family of Architects draws her inspiration from Daniel Ndonye, who has been her mentor. Mr Daniel Ndonye is the Chairman at I&M Holdings Ltd, AccessKenya Group Ltd, AutoXpress Ltd and a board member in many thriving companies.
Despite being involved in business, Kendi is launching a campaign against cervical cancer, which she says is prevalent in her rural area.
Kendi is comfortable with her personal and social life, looking to push her business agenda forward, before settling for marriage. The ever bubbly and funny lass enjoys her free time in nature and plant exploration and sometimes physical exercise.
She advises graduates to get professional experience first through employments and internships before trying to go solo. “Many times I do not know what I am doing and the risks I’m getting into but I know the kind of woman I want to become, a mother,wife and friend,” she ends.
Tuskys and Nakumatt reach management deal
Nakumatt and Tuskys shares will be owned by a holding company to be formed as part of the merger deal between the two retailers.
The two, which control the retail business in the country, are currently reviewing the structure of the two businesses to facilitate the merger process, The Standard reported today, quoting an inside source. “The new company will own all the shares of the two entities. It is still too early to know who will own what stake in the new entity, whose name has also not yet been agreed on,” the source told Standard.
Though details of the deal remain scanty given the secrecy that has characterised the family businesses, it is also understood that the two firms will leave a number of shares to be sold to a private investor at a later date.
“In the end, there will be a company whose shares will be owned by the two entities after it is determined what share each would own. This will allow the two firms to continue operating as separate entities,” said the source who is not authorised to comment on the negotiations.
He said the two families have engaged transaction advisers who are working on the deal before it is presented to the Competition Authority. Negotiations are also ongoing about the fate of the two retailers’ staff after the merger.
The retail chains issued the first joint statement last week confirming the merger talks but pointed out that the process was complex and would require some time to complete.
Cash flow crisis The merger is expected to offer Nakumatt Supermarkets a lifeline in dealing with a painful cash flow crisis and bringing back stock to its empty shelves. The deal is being described as a ‘homegrown solution’ to the retail chain’s troubles.
The entities last week formed a caretaker management team that comprises executives drawn from the two firms. Audit firm KPMG is providing transaction advisory services for the merger. In exchange, Tuskys, which still enjoys some supplier goodwill, will offer Nakumatt access to stock from its retail value chain.
The retailer’s current position is a far cry from its former stature when its ‘You Need It, We’ve Got It’ tagline promised shoppers a vast variety of goods. It had 66 branches in the region before it began closing them, weighed down by piling supplier debt and unpaid rent. According to a recent report released by the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Nakumatt led in debts to suppliers, owing Sh278.9 million by December last year.
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