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World Bank Says Kenya’s Economic Growth For The Year, Slowest In Five Years, And What This Mean For The 2018 Entrepreneurs

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By Felix Onyango

Kenya has made a couple of noticeable strides on the path of ease of doing business. We have to appreciate the steps made so far but still advocate for continuous spontaneous changes that will ensure our full entrepreneurship productivity and potentials.

According to World Bank latest annual ratings, Kenya moved 12 places from position 92 in 2016 among 190 economies as far as ease of doing business pertains. All these are based on regulatory environment, protection of property rights. Efforts to make starting a business easier is notable by the merger of procedures necessary for startups and formal business operation.

Huduma Centre services have made this even convenient as well as online platforms set aside by various county governments and other authorities. In the previous financial year, Nairobi County, for example, did consolidate a total of 5 licenses to one permit such as single business permit, health certificate, advertising signage, food hygiene to fire clearance certificate, all these are applied by entrepreneurs online with digital payment as an option as well. With these, it’s true that investors have been relieved from previous burden and bureaucracies one had to undergo in order to kick-start a business.

With devolution taking deeper root in the country, every County governments are in the race of attracting it set of investors both foreign and local to boost its own economic agenda. More regulations have been given emphasis to attract the marginalized groups; youths, women, disabled through tendering and contracts i.e Access to Government Procurement Opportunities (AGPO) among other loans and grants provided to boost these group.This has as well come up with its own set of challenges from delayed or close to zero payment even after delivery of tenders,non-compliance to contracts, corruption et al which are all manageable with proper control structure in place.

Where are we? Are we heading somewhere? What can we learn?… Insights on Kenya’s external business environment

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There have been cycles of economic growth as well as contraction due to several inevitable factors ranging from events, news, consumer preference, the general state of health of the market, these must always be taken into consideration by the investor who needs to start or spike growth of the business. In Kenya, let’s take quick look at several external environmental factors that must be contemplated by an entrepreneur ;

Political environment

Kenya economy is intertwined with the political aspect, impact on one will definitely have a consequence on another.It has been a long political season accompanied by political instability in several regions and towns thus derailing investment rates throwing most of the entrepreneurs into a ‘wait and see’ situation in order to explore their next step.With political rhetorics ‘slowly cooling down’ and political class showing capabilities of settling down issues at hand, entrepreneurs can only be optimistic about a better time ahead.

Business only thrives where there is sizeable peace and tranquility, security and a condusive environment full of a corporation with the political players, policies, and regulations that seeks to promote SMEs, manufacturing sector, processing, service, agricultural sectors for the good of the economy.

Interest rate

High-interest rates discourage customers /entrepreneurs from borrowing to expedite their entrepreneurial interests, on the other hand, the lower the interest rate the more the stimulation of industries growth, innovation, and more jobs.

The bill capping interest rate has been effected to law,this ensures maximum interest rate charged by commercial banks is only 4% above the CBK rate, the impact of this law is slowly being felt among the banking sector with several experiencing drops in ‘supernormal’ profits but critics including economists, banking sector have always stood their ground against the bill with IMF also chipping in to offer advice on the adverse effect in the long-run in the economic growth.

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But the intention of those who pushed the bill was to support the growth of SMEs and entrepreneurs to access affordable loans and attract even those who were afraid of defaulting due to the high-interest rate. The challenge for many towards this remains to be collateral required for the loan acquisition. The banking sector have their own school of thought and continues to have own mitigation measures to curb the impact of the new law.

Prevailing currency strength

The value of Kenyan currency compared to foreign currency is an important business aspect for any entrepreneur, the strength of the Kenyan currency to US dollar is at least currently fairly stable despite the long political season but with time indication are pointing towards its growth.Whenever it strengthen, business in the sphere of international trade are able to be even more competitive in pricing, loss mitigation, and spike growth.

Economic status Kenya is indisputably the leading economy in East and Central Africa with the unique distinction of diversification and continuous advancement. According to the World Bank’s Kenya Economic update 2017, the country’s GDP projection is to decelerate to 5.5% which is 0.5 drift from 2016 forecast due to prolonged drought, food insecurity, crop failures and livestock death alluding to the fact that agriculture is the country’s economic backbone. Amidst all these, prudent macroeconomic policies are continuously considered to unlock the country’s full productive capacity; better credit access, agricultural productivity as well as optimization of sprouting new economic growth energies especially real estate which is increasingly taking center stage even in remote and previously sleeping regions, towns and cities.

Social Environment

Going by the latest country’s census, Kenya boasts of a population of about 44 million with 2.7% estimated annual growth rate.Away from the brief stats, it’s important to note that there exists continuous blossoming consumer demand particularly for high-end products and services attributed to uprising middle-class population. The country is strategically located making it a market hub in East and Central Africa.

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It’s wise also to note here current existence of trade beneficial agreement and arrangement that the country has definitely optimized such as The African Growth and Opportunities Act(AGOA) as well as Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), all these have offered a boost towards access to the European Union and other international markets as well on a duty free access. This has contributed to the growth and offer more opportunities in textile, processing, manufacturing and service industry.

Understanding your business environment into perspective is very paramount for proper planning, analysis plus informed decision making to ensure business productivity. Through SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis you are customed to be on the track of all aspects in the business environment and to keep you ahead of competitors & offer competitive edge as well as necessary adjustments of strategies to have a reflection of the environment under which you operate your business.

Ease of doing business report ought to be reprieve and challenge to the future of entrepreneurship in the country.This has had its own share of positive changes which are to the advantage of entrepreneurs to optimize with time. More adjustments must still be made to ease further business operations and support growth in terms of policies, empowerments to at least help bridge existing gaps.

Read the full World Bank’s report on Kenya’s economic outlook below

121895-WP-P162368-PUBLIC-KenyaEconomicUpdateFINAL (1)

The writer is an entrepreneur by profession and practice also a business mentor 


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Former Nairobi Deputy Governor Polycarp Igathe Named The New MD Of Equity Bank Kenya Ltd

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Polycarp Igathe And James Mwangi

Nairobi 20th September 2018………Fives months after joining Equity Group Holdings Plc, Polycarp has been confirmed and named the Managing Director of Equity Bank Kenya. This marks the completion of the Group’s strategy of separating the management of its subsidiaries from that of the Holding Company. Dr James Mwangi will now serve as the Group Chief Executive and Managing Director providing overall strategic direction and oversight to the Group.

Speaking while making the announcement, Dr Mwangi said “The Board has completed the process of separating the operations and management of the Kenya subsidiary from that of the Group and appointed Polycarp the Managing Director of Equity Bank Kenya. Polycarp’s strong values and passion have enabled him to quickly fit well in the Equity Group organizational culture. He has distinguished himself as a results oriented and committed business leader who is Equity Bank is currently the largest bank in Eastern and Central Africa region with over 12.6Million customers, the largest in market capitalization and the second largest in balance sheet.

It is listed at the Nairobi securities exchange and cross listed in Uganda Stock Exchange and Rwanda Stock Exchange. It has banking subsidiaries in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, South Sudan and DRC. renowned for fostering productive partnerships with external stakeholders and customers, resulting in delivery of outstanding company results. He has taken over a very successful subsidiary and market leader. We believe he has the skills, competence, capability and vision to retain Equity Bank Kenya in its leadership position while taking it to the next level.”

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Equity Bank Kenya holds the lion share of the Group’s business and contributes over 80% of the profitability. It is the first subsidiary of Equity Group Holdings Plc which has become a case study of excellence in growth management and transformation from a technically insolvent building society to a globally competitive bank. The Bank has been named the Top Banking Superbrand in Kenya for ten years in a row since 2007.

Moody’s gave the bank a global rating of B2 with a Stable outlook same as the sovereign rating of the Kenya Government in 2017. Global Credit Rating Co. (GCR) rated the bank AA- for long-term and A1+ for short term, with a stable outlook reflecting the Group’s strong competitive position in Kenya’s banking industry in 2017-2018. The Banker Top 1000 World Banks 2018 ranked Equity Bank position 11 globally on Return on Assets, position 44 on Profits on Capital and position 35 on soundness or Capital Assets Ratio.

In 2018, The bank was recognized by the Banker Awards East Africa as the Best Commercial Bank in Kenya and East Africa, the bank with the Best Digital Offering in East Africa and the Most Innovative Bank in Kenya. The East African Business Council awarded Equity Group Holdings the Overall Best Regional Company in East Africa, 2018. The African Banker Awards 2018 feted Equity Bank as the African Bank of the Year while Euromoney awarded Equity Bank as the Best Bank in Kenya 2018.

In Kenya, the bank emerged the Overall Best Bank in the 2018 Think Business Banking Awards for the 7th year in a row. It also won across 22 award categories becoming the most recognized market leader in the country.

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Kenya led in the implementation of the Group’s digitization strategy that has seen the bank move over 97% of its transactions from the banking halls to self service digital banking tools. The bank pioneered in rolling out agency banking in the region, setting the pace for the other subsidiaries. The Group’s social impact investments coordinated by Equity Group Foundation have benefitted immensely from Equity Bank Kenya’s infrastructure which provides the Foundation with unrivalled implementation capability giving the Foundation a high return on investment.

About Polycarp Igathe

Mr Igathe is a highly accomplished corporate executive, seasoned in overseeing large commercial enterprises in the Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) sector and with a remarkable track record of success in spearheading business growth and product development. Mr. Igathe has successfully served as CEO of leading blue chip corporate entities in Kenya and Eastern Africa, namely Coca-Cola SABCO, Africa Online, EABL, Haco Industries, Wines of the World, Tiger Brands International and Vivo Energy.

He has been elected, nominated, and appointed to serve as Non-Executive Chairman and Board member in several commercial and public-sector entities. Further, he has served as Chairman Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM); Chairman Petroleum Institute of East Africa (PIEA); Director & Trustee Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA); and Chair Board of Management at BG Ngandu Girls High School.

Igathe has served as Chairman Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM); Chairman Petroleum Institute of East Africa (PIEA); Director & Trustee of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) and was the immediate former second Governor of the Nairobi City County. He brings his business networks and experience in the Eastern Africa private sector scene to grow the Equity brand in the corporate segment of the market.

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Igathe is celebrated as a Warrior of the Marketing Society of Kenya (MSK), Savant of Marketing by Marketing Africa Magazine and as Savant of Policy Advocacy by the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM). Igathe obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics & Sociology, from the University of Nairobi and is a graduate of the Strathmore University’s Advanced Management Program (AMP) with IESE Business School in Spain. At the University of Nairobi, he was the national Chairman of AIESEC in Kenya, the International Association of university students interested in Economics and Business Management.
He was the second Deputy Governor of Nairobi County, under the devolved government before his resignation from the post in January 2018.


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CBK Fines Standard Chartered Bank, Equity, KCB, Co-operative Bank and Diamond Trust Bank Kenya Sh392M For Laundering NYS Loot

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The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) has, with other investigative agencies, been investigating banks that were used by persons suspected of transacting illegally with the National Youth Service (NYS). This followed the serious concerns that came to light in May 2018, related to the channelling of NYS funds.

CBK has announced  the conclusion of the first phase of the investigation of the banks that were used by these persons in transacting the NYS funds. The investigations prioritised banks that handled the largest flows, namely; Standard Chartered Bank Kenya Ltd, Equity Bank Kenya Ltd, KCB Bank Kenya Ltd, Co-operative Bank of Kenya Ltd, and Diamond Trust Bank Kenya Ltd.

The main objective of the investigations was to examine the operations of the NYS-related bank accounts and transactions, and in each instance assess the bank’s compliance with the requirements of Kenya’s Anti-Money Laundering/Combating Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) laws and regulations. Violations were identified, principally related to the following:
 failure to report large cash transactions,
 failure to undertake adequate customer due diligence,
 lack of supporting documentation for large transactions, and
 lapses in the reporting of Suspicious Transaction Reports (STRs) to the Financial
Reporting Centre (FRC).

CBK assessed monetary penalties for each of the five banks in accordance with the extent of the violations that were identified and pursuant to CBK’s powers under the Banking Act and the Central Bank of Kenya Act. These penalties are detailed below.

  1. Standard Chartered Bank Kenya Ltd who received Sh1.6B fined Sh 77.5M.
  2. Equity Bank Kenya Ltd. Handled Sh886M, fines Sh89.5M
  3. KCB Bank Kenya Ltd. Handled Sh639M and fined Sh149.5M
  4. Co-operative Bank Kenya Ltd. Handled Sh263M and fined Sh20M
  5. Diamond Trust Bank Kenya Ltd. handled Sh162M and fined Sh56M.
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The second phase of the investigations will involve use of these findings by other investigators, inter alia, assessment of criminal culpability by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (ODPP). CBK has shared the findings with the relevant investigative agencies for their appropriate action. Further, an additional set of banks will also be identified and investigated.


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Britam Vs Cytonn Investments Is It A Case Of Business Rivalry

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Cytonn CEO Edwin Dande

Justice John Mativo’s ruling today to have the case between Britam and it’s former executives to go on full trial, marks the start of a battle that has been floating in the courts since 2016 and one of the biggest corporate battles given that both are investment companies.

British-American Investments Company (Britam) had accused it’s former managers Edwin Dande, Elizabeth Nailantei Nkukuu, Patricia Njeri Wanjama and Shiv Arora over alleged irregular sums from Britam-affiliated accounts to rival companies.

The former managers had challenged the decision by the Director of public prosecution (DPP) to have the case go on full trial as irrational or illegal and their rights infringed, but all these have been dismissed with the judge’s decision to have the case go on trial court.

Britam had accused its former executives of wiring Sh1.16 billion out of Britam in five tranches to multiple accounts held by Acorn at Chase Bank and a further Sh2.78 billion to seven entities that are subsidiaries of Acorn.

I’ve come to notice the fraud cases were raised in 2016, two years after the executives left and formed another investment company;Cytonn which Dande one of the accused is the CEO. Being in the same field, one can’t help notice sprinkles of business rivalry between the two based on the court arguments I’ve seen.

Based on records, the former managers had accused their employer,Britam of engagement in several illegalities such is illegally  using client insurance funds to purchase shares of Britam to rescue a failed IPO, they also claimed that they objected to using insurance funds under their management to purchase a failing bank – a transaction that led to loss of billions of shillings of investors’ funds.

Also claimed they objected to failure to send statements or sending out-rightly misleading statements to investors in the unit linked products, we resisted being forced to put excessive funds into a bank where a relative of a Britam director worked, but what brought matters to a head was an attempt to have them take away from clients a Kshs. 5 billion portfolio, one that they had originated for clients, and gave to the group.

On leaving Britam, the managers were slapped with upto 7 different suits which later came down to two that are the subjects today. The suit was dropped against property development group Acorn and seven of its affiliates following an out-of-court deal.

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Britam bought into Acorn in 2014 as the two firms agreed to partner on big-ticket real estate projects It is this joint venture between Britam and Acorn that was the source of a fallout that saw Dande, Ms Nkukuu, Ms Wanjama and Mr Arora exit Britam to found their own company—Cytonn Investments.

The two parties however fell out, with the insurer selling its stake in Acorn. This paved the way for Acorn to team up with a new partner, leading to its deal with Helios in the form of joint ventures.

While the courts have their say and the trial must go on regardless, there are basic questions in a layman’s level that has caught my curiosity in this case. How could a fraud in the scale of Sh9.8b occur in a company just by few executives without knowledge of the senior management I’m talking about the board. You can’t convince me if any fraud of that magnitude would happen then it would escape the top ranks knowledge, they’re either complicit of flipping pages for own interests.

First off, the money Britam claims was illegally transferred was recovered through a different firm Acorn, logically, such a transaction cannot happen without the knowledge of the senior officials not unless Britam lacks the basic channels of operations in any major company.

In a petition filed by the former employees back in 2016, the Executives of Cytonn Investments claimed that their former employer, Britam, has been harassing them for founding a competing firm. In the petition, Cytonn Executives wanted Britam compelled to furnish it with a forensic audit report carried out on the fund manager’s books, and a legal audit done on Britam’s transactions to establish whether the disputed transfer of funds was illegal as claimed by the firm.

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Mr Dande in that petition held that the sums Britam claims were illegally transferred by its former employees were already recovered from another firm Acorn Group. He said the Sh5 billion was transferred to Acorn’s accounts with the knowledge and approval of top Britam officials.

Which brings me to my biggest concern, if Britam had clean hands, why haven’t they provided these crucial documents that would easily help in solving the case in its infant stages? A forensic audit by an independent audit firm would unearth and ascertain if indeed a fraud occurred and who in the hierarchy was involved.

However, by delaying to do all these while pushing for the case to go on full trial I can’t help but read malice in it and more so given the fact that the former executives have managed to put up a strong business rival in Cytonn that has scaled up in the markets. Reputation is key in these streets and one can easily exploit legal loopholes to damage one’s image like being labeled a fraudster in a sensitive financial space as an investment firm is the last thing one would need and that a rival would want.

As the case now proceeds to full trial and I’ve seen the Cytonn CEO has accepted and is not challenging it so to prove his innocence in court, it is a win for Britam who now has the upper hand. The burden is on Cytonn who’ll now have to sweat in convincing their customers that the suit is out of malice as they’ve persistently claimed.

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However, while at it to prove and stamp their innocence, their reputation is now in jeopardy. But this is business and according to laws of power,big you find a chance to crash an enemy, you do it completely and Britam will have a sweet revenge on its former employees who thought they were ‘smart’ to put up a rival firm in penis measurement with their bosses.


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