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Compassionate Business

Speech by Daniel Mutuku on the Occasion of the Economic Empowerment Conference
organised by the Muungano Winners Group held at the August 7th Memorial Park on Saturday,
15th February 2014.

The Chairperson of Muungano Winners Group (MWG), Angela Mburu, the Treasurer, James
Ngaruiya, Members of MWG, Invited guests, Ladies and Gentlemen. Good morning all.

As introduced before, my name is Daniel Mutuku from Pan Africa Life, where I am stationed in
the Actuarial Unit of the company. I studied at JKUAT for my undergraduate degree in Actuarial
Science and am currently pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree from the University
of Nairobi.

Thank you very much for giving me this opportunity to speak on the topic of firm-building and
along with that a number of aspects that speak to business practice in Kenya. I trust we will
share a lot during our discourse this morning and find common ground on which we can view
entrepreneurship and wealth creation in todays world.

The topic of business has been a core subject, from when we were kids, trying to understand
the mathematics of sweets and ice cream, and how many more of those sweet things we can
get from the coins we had in our hands. We learnt about summing up of shillings and cents and
finding how much change we will get should we buy this quantity of this and that quantity of that.
We saw shops and kiosks providing wares and commodities, and we also saw free things (in
our eyes) such as the famous Maziwa ya Nyayo. We would get into a bus and pay 1 shilling
fare and slowly understand, subconsciously at least, that we exist in an economy. It would
eventually dawn on us that we are a market inasmuch as we can be producers of wealth. That
business is a give and take situation where one is deriving value from the exchange. We would
eventually understand the capitalistic nature of the world around us and the need to be a creator
of wealth.

And here we are, asking ourselves, this question, I believe. How do we fit into this whole canvas
of an economy? How do I ensure that I reap the most from my abilities and talents and the
capital that I have? And a pertinent question I think too. What will be the end of this?

I would like to share about some four aspects that I believe should guide a business
entrepreneur, a firm builder in the planting and nurturing of business ventures. These are
leadership, compassion, professionalism and value.

When we talk of leadership, what jumps up in my mind is usually government where we see this
political leader addressing people, announcing decisions, meeting people, and giving direction.
However, to me leadership means initiative. The first person to think that this thing needs to be
done, and going on to do it. Enlisting the help of others should the thing be not doable only by
the individual. Hence leadership means vision, resolve, faith, passion, and inspiration. Vision
because you see what others do not possibly see, possibilities in situations, rubies in ashes.
With vision the leader is able to go on with the initiative because he can see the end even
though he cant touch it yet. And thence we see faith in this individual, faith in God. The belief
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that what the vision represents will come to fruition. This person is passionate, so zealous about
the vision. That passion is infectious and so noble. That passion drives him to seek more ways
of doing things so as to reach the goal. When we see this individual, we surely must admire the
way he does things. And therefore we see him influencing us, inspiring us, either to join him, or
start our thing. To have our own thing to be passionate about. We see the innocence of faith
and we want to emulate him, and have faith that our thing will also come to pass.

What I am trying to say is that leadership is so applicable in business as it is in the traditional
sectors that we could think of like politics. One must have the drive and vision of what he wants
to set up. Every business that exists today was once someones vision. Be it the vision of
producing biscuits for the East African region like Mr Manji or the vision of creating wealth like
the Muungano Winners Group! Leadership must be our spirit and edge. And it should be a
lifetime thing. You never stop leading because of having made it or because of age catching up
with you. You continue leading, on and on.

Compassion, what Ive alluded to in the title of this piece of writing, is an aspect I think is so
important should business need to make sense. Compassion points to people, and the
importance of people. These people form markets as well as the business people themselves.
Weve heard the phrase the customer is always right. We must take it in context of course!
Buzz words such as customer-centric, customer-focused, customer-oriented, customer-care
and so on, have dominated business talk today. This is because business has realised, or
rather realises that the people are its basis of existence (if not survival). However, the focus on
the customer should not be because of the fact that if I do not serve them well, they will leave
and go on elsewhere. Rather, we should see the person as one with wants, needs, hopes,
desires, dreams, and see how as a business, I can at least meet the aspect of the person's
psyche that my service or product could touch on. It should not be complicated because
business people are at first people, before they are business people.

Focus on people will mean that I am courteous, polite, a listener. It means that I will take time to
connect and speak their language. It means that I will ensure my product or service is
continually improved and updated so as to better meet the persons liking. Not because of
competition. It means that my business will actually eventually be part of society in as much as it
is a society of its own, comprised of employees, and business partners. Your entrepreneurial
outfit should also inspire hope and potential for self actualisation, by the people within it. It
should speak to the need of fulfillment of dreams of yourself and your employees. We call this
employee engagement.

Now, because we seek to meet people where they are, we must have a knack for
professionalism. We must be good at what we do, so good that we can do it in our dreams. We
must continually update ourselves of better ways to do this, benchmark against best practices,
look out for better practices. We must communicate well, and understand issues well.
Professional studies should not be just about passing the hurdle, they should make you more
professional and more precise. Add value to you so that you can add value to your clients, and
so that society adds value.

Utmost good quality is essential in this regard. Service quality and product quality. See, with
professionalism, one is able to go beyond the here and now. One impacts the there and then, in
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the sense that new innovations are bound to arise from continual improvement. This means
more opportunity should there be a connection with the market. Therefore future generations
will be able to build on what you set, the standards that you put in place and not go beneath
that. Various safeguards would then be in place to ensure that standards do not diminish. Lets
be the best in what we do.

Finally, the focus of business is value. Value for the business person and value for the customer
or client. If I buy this item or service from you, do I think I will derive the most value from it
compared with the cash I will give in return? This is what the client asks. Also, if I provide this
product or service at this quantity and at this price will I derive the most value from my business
venture? This is what I as the entrepreneur would ask. Another question that we should ask is
have I derived the value of satisfaction knowing that I have done my best based on the
circumstances and resources and opportunities that were presented? This question speaks of
fulfillment, and the relief of knowing that you did the best you could do with your endowments,
and nothing went to waste.

Hence, at the end of your vocation, your business involvement, will it be worth it? Will I leave an
example for others to emulate? Will I inspire others to improve and be the best in what they do?

Important questions that only you can answer for yourself.

Thank you all and God bless you.