Kenya’s Financial Literacy Deficit

flThe Good Holy book (Bible) says in some verse that “My people perish due to lack of KNOWLEDGE”; and I say, MOST Kenyan poor people continue and will continue to languish in poverty due to “LACK OF FINANCIAL LITERACY”.

 Yesterday I was out and about around campus and its environs with a close friend of mine putting our marketing skills into a test drive. We were working with Old Mutual, an investment company in Kenya in introducing a new product to the students and any other interested parties around campus. Our work station was in the University of Nairobi, School of Business at Lower Kabete Campus.

The product we were introducing to the students is called i-INVEST; which enables the generation-Y folks like me and my schoolmates to invest in money markets and specifically treasury bills through a mutual fund by just using our phones. Sweet as it may sound with even free registration to get an account through their phones; still many of our clients yesterday could not get to understand why they needed to start saving for their future and invest to earn returns in their money at very competitive interest rates that beat any other in the market.

The students had a problem with parting with ksh. 10 from their phone credit to register and try out the new investment vehicle customized to suit their needs. That not being all, most of them could not find sense in investing small amounts in mutual funds and waiting to see their portfolio grow. At that point I realized just how “difficult” the simple concept of compound interest is to many of our students, though it is learnt in primary school. They could not see how the power of compounding working on their money over a long period of time could change what seemed like pea nuts today into millions or even billions in the fA4 i-INVEST aduture. Continue reading “Kenya’s Financial Literacy Deficit”

Devolving Public Funds

devolutionLooking at the tussle between the national government and the county governments on the issue of allocation of public funds to the counties leaves one wondering; just where is the bone of contention? Both the national and the county governments should all be working for the common good of the citizens in an absolute situation.

However, when it comes to money matters, seems like either of the two governments have some hidden agenda that is not for the good of the citizens, thus bringing out the conflict. The other scenario can be that both the national and the county governments have their selfish interests which they would wish to satisfy by controlling a large share of the public funds.

A wise eye can be able to deduce that the actual problem is that both the national government and the county governments don’t really understand the concept behind the devolving of public funds. Article 174(g) of the constitution states that one of the objectives of the devolved form of governance is “to ensure equitable sharing of national and local resources throughout Kenya”. Public funds by all meanings and interpretations fall squarely under the category of national resources and therefore they also ought to be shared ‘equitably’ throughout Kenya.

Fourth Schedule of the constitution on ‘distribution of functions between the national government and the county government’ clearly outlines what the national government and county governments’ functions are to be. Looking at the functions outlined there for either, it clearly comes out that the role of the national government is majorly that of policy formulation. On the other hand, the roles of the county governments are those of implementation of the policies formulated by the national governments. Continue reading “Devolving Public Funds”

Perfect Economy Scorecard – Food & Water

We livfoode in a world of no absolutes and perfect scenarios. The reality has always proven the perfectionists wrong in different circumstances and it continues to do so even in governance and economic matters globally today. Nevertheless, I strongly feel that if some things were done in our economy, we would have a semblance of a perfect economy.

In my opinion, seven things create a perfect economy if they are well installed and implemented in an economy.

The most basic factor to consider in building a perfect economy is food. A country that cannot feed its people is a dying country; and going by the tenets of the new economic world order, such a government is not worth existing.

A people well fed are a strong people who can engage in economic activities for the country’s development. A hungry lot on the other hand is an angry lot that only engages in chaos and mischief to try and get something to quench their hunger pangs. You feed the people and you have a peaceful and cohesive nation working towards national development. Continue reading “Perfect Economy Scorecard – Food & Water”

The Scramble for Upper Hill!

uhA recent visit to upper hill revealed some news to me that had not hit my mind before. It started as a slow encroachment by a few business offices in a few years ago, but it has now turned into a real scramble for land at Upper Hill. Apparently, everybody now thinks that Upper Hill is the hot biscuit that they must at least have a bite of.

Talk of the big corporate names in Kenya and the chances of finding their headquarters in Upper Hill will be 90%. Big banks in Kenya like Equity Bank, Commercial Bank of Africa and the latest entrant KCB have their head offices here. KCB are however still constructing what might end up as the tallest tower at Upper Hill for the near future before another investor brings in competition.

The unbeatable beverage company Coca-Cola also has their head offices there just next to Shelter Afrique – a property financing company of its own kind in Kenya and Africa at large. A few meters away we have Blue Shield Insurance company offices and the one investment company Old Mutual just to mention a few.

Several government offices also decorate the land at Upper Hill. A good number of government agencies are also to be found in Upper Hill including the Capital Markets Authority, KASNEB among several others. Continue reading “The Scramble for Upper Hill!”