Warning: Do Check Out Business in Kenya, Tanzania, and More…

19 Aug Warning: Do Check Out Business in Kenya, Tanzania, and More…

Warning:  Do Check Out Business in Kenya, Tanzania, and More… Because THAT is the SMART Thing to do… NOT Because the POTUS was There. 

The last I knew, all your political convictions aside, you need to do what is best for growing your business.  In the past month, from the advance news of President Obama’s trip to East Africa up until now, I have heard it all.  From boondoggle and a big waste of USA taxpayers’ money, to a good eye opening opportunity for USA companies, when it comes to steering them into the direction of what may be the global center of economic growth for the next two decades.

Also, I have to say, most of the talking heads / experts that you may see on television, opining about business or security in East Africa, have spent little or no time there, or anywhere else for that matter.  They can simply offer their “expertise” from nothing more than regurgitated journalism, think tanks and other self-proclaimed experts that sit in their offices in London, Washington D.C. and elsewhere and collect checks from the networks to be there resident experts on such issues.  Granted, you may have the ex-military officer or former Diplomat, that has had the venerable “helicopter view” of East Africa, and other places, and this makes them a qualified expert in the eyes of broadcasters.

Personally, I had the privilege of working two decades for a global automotive sector company, on several continents, and I give them credit for realizing they could not dictate business strategies and plans from their HQ in Europe.  They left that to their executive team on the ground that knew exactly what was happening.  Sound like a good business practice?

Let’s just look at the security issue that has been so sensationalized in Kenya.  During President Obama’s visit, and I was in Kenya, we heard over and over again on CNN and others about the horrific Garissa College attack, last April in Kenya, and the “porous and dangerous” border with Somalia.

Unfortunately, 147 people lost their lives in the Garissa attack in Kenya on April 2nd this year.  That represents just over three days of murders in the USA.  Yes, that is the cold hard truth.  Are travel warnings issued for people heading to the USA?  No, but why do journalists and others drape Kenya within a blanket of terror?  CNN’s rolling byline even stated “Security Fears as Obama Heads to Hotbed of Terror.”   Really?  Who edits or validates such words from being aired by such global news organizations?  Someone in an Atlanta control room?  Is this responsible journalism?  Kenya has already dropped a lucrative advertising campaign from CNN just for that reason.  Then there is the Kenya / Somalia border issue.  How about the USA / Mexico border?  Who would like to debate which border is more of an issue?

An old Irishman, struggling through some labor issues in the Tanzania brewery he managed in the 1990s, heightened by newspaper articles, replied to me when I told him I was sorry to have “read the news”:  “Young man, paper never refused ink.”  Enough said, I got it!

So you can get bogged down by what is arguably a lot of hype, or you can simply take a good look at East Africa and become addicted to the energy and excitement of one of the most vibrant and fast growing markets in the world.  A single trip, at far less the cost of an additional sales person in an already pressured current market of yours, will open your eyes to the opportunities that may never be seen again in the global marketplace.  New, billion member middle classes don’t come along very often.

Don’t take it from just my three decades in the region, take it from one of the, all too few, American companies doing business in Kenya, Tanzania and elsewhere in Sub Sahara Africa.  Also, ask yourself if things were so bad, would they be there?

“We’ve got a ton of advantages when we go to Africa.  We would like other American businesses to be over there with us, we really would.”  Jeffrey Immelt – Chairman & CEO – General Electric


You can add to the list of USA companies in Kenya Microsoft, IBM, Cisco, Del Monte, Coca Cola, Citibank, Google, Intel, Motorola, Pfizer, Qualcomm, VISA and many more.  USA franchises like KFC, Naked Pizza, Dominos, Coldstone Creamery, Subway and more are popping up everywhere.  The new middle class of East Africa simply wants the experiences they can get in the rest of the world.  Why not your products or services?

And you don’t have to be as big as General Electric.  Just this week we are introducing the East Africa markets to people from the USA in the retail space, franchising, modular homes, jewelry, real estate agency and more.  Don’t wait, while your competitors from around the globe may be ahead of you, in terms of market entry, you can eventually lead the way by using our decades of fast tracking strategies.


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