Mr. IamNairobi

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Election year is around the corner, this a good time for candidates seeking public office to start making their intentions known to their constituents; before the airwaves are filled with campaign rhetoric, and our walls smeared with posters of strangers seeking political power.

I made a decision to do this piece after stumbling on Hon. Sakaja Johnson’s I am Nairobi post on Facebook. I clicked on the link to a website with a sign up form, sponsored by ‘Organising for Nairobi’, Sakaja for governor of Nairobi and no more information on what ‘I am Nairobi is or who Sakaja Johnson is. I then pulled up my laptop to see if I could get more information from the same site since I imagine perhaps the mobile site was limited but it was a dead end.

There is a couple of things that Hon. Sakaja needs to do different in his quest for governor of Nairobi, as far as his communication is concerned. One is to acknowledge that he has three audiences: those that don’t know (ignorant), others that know and will cheer him on but are not convinced he is the right person for the job (skeptic) and lastly, his supporters; that have everything to gain or loose from the outcome of the elections (loyalist). Hon. Sakaja’s communication team must inform the ignorant, persuade the skeptic and keep the loyalist happy.

Second thing is to use various communication platforms to present the following:

  1. Factsheet on Nairobi: The good, the bad and the ugly
  2. Information on county government of Nairobi: how it should  ideally work
  3. The role of the Office of Governor of Nairobi: it’s a relatively new position
  4. Formally introduce himself to the ignorant, the skeptic and the loyalist
  5. His plan to deal with the good, the bad and the ugly that define the county and to demonstrate what Nairobi will miss if they did not elect him as the next governor.

Lastly, I would say communication is a two way street. Be accessible to people from all walks to life, become their voice and be involved in their everyday lives. Let the ‘I am Nairobi’ campaign be a channel by the people and for the people, a safe place to share their fears and find hope for a brighter better Nairobi.

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The Audition

Friends are the film crew that work with you to shoot your autobiography. Make them audition, treasure those that make it, shoot every scene like it was the last.

The Oscar’s are awarded by casts, directors, producers who did the extraordinary to what would have a normal life story.

If you  passed the audition to star in  life story of a friend. Do your level best to work with their support cast to make everything beautiful.

God-the script writer, director and executive producer- is working you best collaborator to deliver an award winning piece that will impact and inspire your audience today and generations to come.

MPESA for Church please!

Dear Safaricom,

I would like to say thank you very much for providing the MPESA service. You have made my life fantastic in ways words cannot capture as I shop at the supermarket, fuel at the station, pay for electricity, sort out the boda-boda guy and even borrow some cash to sort out an emergency. The cashless life is so great I naturally gravitate towards businesses that have a ‘Lipa na Mpesa’ option.  You have given me convenience and for that I say thank you very much.

I thought to highlight an area that may need your attention; I was in church this past Sunday and was caught off-guard when the preacher man announced it was time for us to give of our tithes and offering. Because your excellent service made me retire my ATM card and MPESA agents are closed early Sunday mornings, It makes it made it impossible for me to respond to the call for giving.

That got me thinking; is it possible for you to tailor an MPESA service for the churches. One that will allow the millions of converted MPESA users to use the service at church. The reason I say tailor-make for church folk is because the giving principle in the bible recommends anonymity when giving of our tithes and offering. For that reason I would not like my number or name not to appear on the Church records when I use the service.

I know you will figure out how to go about. I look forward to the announcement and enjoying the new service.

Kind regards

Benjamin Luta.

YOU STILL TRUST THE ‘CAR FOR SALE- LADY OWNER’?

lady-owner1When cars came from the showroom and spare parts  bought at the car dealer companies, back then the ‘lady owner’ tag on a ‘car for sale’ advert was something to treasure. The reason for the trust evoking tag was because men being men in those days would go to the ‘jua kali’ garages for parts and service on a shilling or two while the ladies would faithfully go to the car deals for the same.

Our worldview about where to get buy cars changed when second hand cars from Dubai landed at the port in Mombasa in the 1980s.  Same time Raymond, Kikomi, Rivertex, Woolworths, Dash, Bata and  Tiger shoes  and other fashion stores  saw the arrival of  second hand clothes aka ‘mitumbas’ and never thought ‘mitumba’s were a game-changer.  The consumers stood at the periphery looking down on all who bought second-hand clothes and cars but it was only a matter of time before they all jumped in and scrambled for the spoils. The rise in demand for world class second hand brands created room for growth in the industry so now the zero mileage car dealers are in the shadows of conversations among‘wananchi’ looking to purchase automobiles.

This change in the market has a direct effect on our ‘lady car owner’ concept in this way. Today, the average lady or man owner will make their way to a ‘trusted’ mechanic at a garage and accompany them to with them to ‘Baricho road’ in Nairobi or  some other dealers online or in the local area to buy new or second-hand parts.

I have a lady friend who has switched mechanics many times over through referrals in the hope that she will find a ‘trusted’ one but has had no luck. She and many other lady owner drivers place the service and repair of their cars in the care of mechanics who some times require close supervision.

This new dynamic has placed responsibility on the prospective buyer to do due diligence in inspecting the vehicle of interest  irrespective of whether the seller is a ‘lady car owner’ or not.

The Womans Guild: Time for Change

If you wguildere raised Presbyterian in East Africa or have been around friends who belong to the flock then you must have stumbled on the Woman’s Guild. I just came from a funeral service at St. Andrews church which I watch the members of the Woman’s guild  all in their symbolic  blue headscarf honour one of their own for her great service and sacrifice, for friendship and sisterhood.

According to the St Andrews website Woman’s Guild was founded in 1922 for girls, first dedication in 1923 and called GIRL’S GUILD. The second dedication was in 1926 and between 1930 – 1943 the Guild lapsed but was revived.  The girls who started were already grown up women and so the name changed to WOMAN’S GUILD,open  to both girls and married women today.

This is a 92 year old brand that deserves uttermost respect for empowering millions of families through their faith based philosophy and practical application of the principles  in addressing drug abuse,  Gender-Based Violence,  poverty, disease, insecurity and climate change. The family institution is under threat from all forces and broken homes are on the increase. Indeed, the list is endless.

The things that caught my attention during the funeral service were the  headscarf, card and badge, a standard issue to the Guild member during the dedication as a sign of membership and a reminder of the fellowship she belongs to and  a reminder of vows and promises. Today the items that belonged to the dearly departed member were presented to her family by the National Chair-lady of the PCEA Woman’s guild in a short ceremony during the funeral service after the chair gave a moving speech.

The logo, the head scarf, the badge and the membership card are powerful brand signals that collectively give deep meaning to members of the guild and all who come into contact with them. The Scouts movement, Salvation Army, Red Cross and other brands use symbols to create connection and collectively give meaning.

My mom had head-scarfs, plenty of beautiful head-scarfs that she she wore to any and every occasion. They were a symbol of pride, fashion and respect as a woman in the nineteen eighties but as the years progressed the less they featured in her dressing.  She like many other women have drifted away from them over time to wearing their hair open, braided or weaved.

This seemingly petite issue of the much celebrated blue PCEA Woman’s Guild headscarf may be the reason for some women and girls not joining the movement. I believe its about time the leaders of this most important woman and family empowerment movement updated its brand assets: head-scarfs, membership card, badge to something that today’s women and girls will adorn with pride and style, something timeless like the scouts scarf and beret.

Any fashion guru with a solution to the  PCEA Woman’s Guild brand signal? Your market will have 62,000 members only 🙂 and many other thousands who will come in because you made it possible through your genius creation.

More than just a National Flag

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I am always reminded of how ignorant I am when I watch the athletes fly their national flags at the opening ceremony of the Olympics. They walk with so much pride sure that we all know who they are and where they are from. I smile with pride whenever I see the celebrity nations like Great Britain, United States, Japan, Jamaica and other nations closer to my own like Nigeria, Ethiopia and South Africa.

Whenever someone adorns the national flag, its symbols and/ or colours, they evoke pride in the patriots,  curiosity to the  ingnorant onlooker  and mixed emotions to the friends and enemies of the State.  The football fan, the athlete, the traveler, army officer and/ or protester all create a platform for the people around him to make inquiries, pass on the good, bad and ugly things about a nation and its people.

The sum total of these perceptions evoke positive or negative emotions towards the individual and/ or the nation he is representing. This in many ways contribute to the national brand contrary to what people say. Think about words that jump into your mind when you walk into a space and it occupied by a Jamaican, Nigerian, French, Italian, Mexican, Chinese or Kenyan?

The trigger of this piece was my reflection on the images on the internet and the local dailies of Kenyan leaders and their followers in the Netherlands dressed in prominent national flag colours, ready to send a message to the International Criminal Court (ICC). I am concerned about the many hundreds of domestic and foreign onlookers and viewers across the globe who stumbled on the strange flag like I do when I watch the opening ceremony of the Olympics. What was the sum total of perception after they got know the country and the reasons for the protests on foreign soil.

There is a team set up by the Kenya government to manage the country brand domestically and internationally. I curious what they have to say about this and to give us a guide going forward on what we can do as a nation to enjoy a favourable Kenyan country brand

Photo courtesy of wakilishi.com

Get over your ASK Show Hangups and go make some money at the Nairobi International Trade Fair

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H.E. the President Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta, admires the Champion milk goat at the livestock parade, moments after he declared the Nairobi International Trade Fair officially open in 2013. Photo courtesy of ask.co.ke

Yes I said, get off that road that is filled will warm memories of ice-cream, shades, paper caps, dusty paths, loosing track of your parents, the cows and goats, jam sessions and all the other things come out of your mouth year after year when you see the Nairobi International Trade Fair (NITF) billboards, adverts or when someone explains to you why there is loads of traffic jam on the roads this week.

I happened to be the Nairobi International Trade Fair (NITF) this past Monday after many years of postponement and I must say it was worth the time. It was a whole new  experience walking into a stall as an adult and listening to the exhibitors put up their best act so I could buy into their brand promise. Every other representative I met blew me away by the innovation, relevance and contribution to the the country’s growth and development in whatever small or big way. I noted down opportunities that right down my isle for business and consultancy and picked contacts of individuals both in public and private sector who are normally tucked away in some offices far out of reach. The best of the best in the region, in Kenya, in Nairobi and Foreign countries with some to offer Kenya were all assembled in one concentrated area and all you have to do is enter the space. All industry leaders a walking distance from each other and ready with information about anything and everything you want to know.

It is no mistake that the organizers changed the name from Nairobi Agricultural Society of Kenya (ASK)  Show to Nairobi International Trade Fair. This year the fair has attracted participants from Kenya, Uganda, India, Lebanon, Nigeria, China, Ghana, Israel, and many more. This are are the best of the best in the respective industries under the them ‘enhancing Technology in Agriculture and Industry for Food Security and National Growth. It emphasizes the need to focus on hardwork by farmers, industrialists, the business community, investors and developers so as to create wealth, stimulate economic growth and reduce poverty in line with the government policy.

The above sounds very well thought through because it is lifted of the introduction document I received from the 2014 Trade Judges Briefing this past Saturday. I was privileged to be appointed as a trade judge this and I must say is the second best thing that happened to me in the third quarter of this year :-). I was glad to join the other 130 volunteer judges on a mission to find the best exhibitors in 47 Trade classes this past Monday.

Some of the Stands that interested me on Monday are:

  1. Kenya Defense Forces (KDF)- look out for their revolutionary Diesel cooker and the upcoming dry foods factory in Gigil all courtesy of Kenya Ordnance Factories
  2. Kenya Prisons have some headway in food production and saved the  government round about Ksh 4 billion out of the 6 billion budgeted expense.
  3. Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology is the home of inventions and innovations. They left me proud of being in Kenya because of the endless opportunities that the land offer.They are worth a second visit
  4. Equity Bank fitted very well a caring and listening partners as the representative expounded on what the members have been able to do with a boost from the Equity agents and branches. They future of banking is mobile and this guys seem to be on the right path.

I will be back at the NITF tomorrow in the capacity of a normal mwananchi this time around. I look forward to making new acquaintances, getting enlightened by the exhibitors and using the information to be of service to the organisations present in the future in exchange for some fat cheques 🙂