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The creativity that M-Changa inspires

Matt Roberts

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Mon.28 Jan. Irene Akenga,

M-Changa is a fundraising platform that allows anyone to start a campaign within their network and beyond. Lets check in some of the successful stories within the platform.

GEORGE’S SPINAL SURGERY IN INDIA

(Above: Mr and Mrs Ambayo)

George Ambayo, born in the year 1952 is a loving husband to gospel songbird Florence Ambayo and father of two sons, Richard Oketch Otiang’a and Barnabas Yuka .

George has lived a happy and healthy life until mid-2018 when doctors diagnosed him with spondylosis and disc disease of the human spine (lower back) with maximal changes and neural compression at level L5-S1.

A compressed nerve by a prolapsed disc caused George to have leg weakness and problems related to urine and stools. As a retired accountant, he wasn’t able to come up with the funds needed to travel to India for spine surgery.

“By God’s grace when I was stuck in terms of getting the finances a good friend of mine, Joshua Ochieng introduced me to M-Changa. He told me M-Changa is a very effective organisation that can help you raise funds” – George Ambayo.

George set up a campaign on donations based crowdfunding platform M-Changa, managing to raise Ksh. 743,000 in just three weeks thanks to 235 friends, family members and well wishers who supported his campaign.

Thanks to Kenyan generosity, the funds raised enabled him to travel out to India on the 4th of November. He was taken to DELHI GURGAON hospital on the 8th of November to undergo a 6 hour successful spine surgery to remove two discs and replace them with artificial discs.Miraculously George was discharged and has been able to walk without a walking stick or wheel chair. To this day, George walks 45 minutes in the morning and 45 minutes in the evening as his physiotherapist instructed.“I want to say a big thank you to the 235 people who contributed to my fundraiser, I also want to thank the wonderful team at M-Changa who were so caring and supportive throughout the process” – George Ambayo

An unexpected side effect to his fundraising activity online is a raised social life, “I remember when I got back from India and I decided to send thank you messages to each and every person who had contributed to my M-Changa fundraiser and many people got back yet I didn’t even know them.”

“Fundraising can be a daunting task, especially for hard working members of society like George Ambayo. If anybody out there has a fundraising need – they should take advantage of fundraising platforms such as M-Changa to help them reach more people quickly – it can help them to quickly raise funds and prove their genuinity” – M-Changa contributor.

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Business

The B2B Battlefield: How to Make Successful Corporate Sales

Jordan Stephanou

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So you’re running a start-up that targets corporate clients. All you need is a few corporate signatures on that paper, and all of a sudden you’ll have a sky-rocketing business with an exciting guaranteed revenue stream every month, right? Right… But it’s not quite that easy.

Maybe you decided against a B2C (Business to Consumer model) because the marketing spend to win over one consumer at a time was not worth it, or that the South African consumer market is not big enough in your industry, or that it’s better to get 10 paying corporates rather than a million paying individuals. You’re not alone, and you’re not wrong.

Both models have their major pros and their major cons. Trust me, I know. But here are some of the lessons I’ve had by pursuing the B2B model.

The pitch: Anything other than a resounding ‘yes’ is likely a ‘no’

First step is to get the pitch. There is a huge temptation to go about it as passively as possible, hoping that the deal will fall in your lap with a well written email. Reality is a little different however. To secure most pitches, a combination (or all) of in-person approach, phone call, linked-in message and email could be required. Once you’ve secured the pitch, book it in both parties’ calendars and hope that there’s no last minute cancellation. The exciting part awaits.

The sad fact of human nature is that people don’t always say what they mean, or mean what they say. Possibly it’s because we don’t like to hurt each other, or it’s because we avoid uncomfortable discussion as if it’s the plague.

Whatever the reason, it’s quite rare to receive “hard no’s”. The reality is that after a pitch, anything other than a resounding yes, or a “when can we start”, or “where can I sign?”, is likely to be a soft no; they have no interest in doing business with you. The entrepreneurial spirit is one that looks at the positive in everything, so it could be very dangerous for a glass half-full entrepreneur to receive a soft no, because this person will very much believe the deal is still alive.

Once again, trust me, I know. I recommend tempering the enthusiasm by looking out for any sign of an excuse during the pitch, and addressing it then and there. You know how hard you worked to get that meeting – so make sure you leave with no question unanswered, knowing that you did everything you could to win that business, or learnt everything you could to enhance your product, service or pitch to win future business. If you don’t get their business, it just means you didn’t get their business right now. Extract the positives and move forward.

1. Balance patience & momentum: They don’t operate like start-ups

It’s often said that a corporate is the most important thing to a startup, but a startup is far from the most important thing to a corporate.

As SMEs, we just have to accept that. Where we would respond to an email in a heartbeat, it may take our corporate contact 2 weeks to respond; especially if they are decision-maker. They don’t need our business, but we need theirs. As such, it’s important to remember when following up on a successful pitch that they are big, they are busy, and they have multiple balls being juggled at once. It’s likely that our proposition is the least important to them, and may be seen as a luxury.

Remember, they didn’t pursue you, you pursued them. So we have to be patient. But this is the difficult part; we have to balance patience with the desire to keep momentum. It’s an oft-said phrase that “time kills deals”. As start-ups, we need to be respectful that our prospective client is busy, but also very direct and honest with them in terms of our position and our goals and objectives.

If we are direct about when we want to conclude a deal and why, it could scare them away, or it could lead to them prioritizing the deal as a priority. Either way, it’s better to know where you stand rather than have something drag on in that mythical pipeline for months or years as false hope.

2. Their emails are not their priority

After the pitch, it’s easy to get in an unhealthy pattern. That pattern could look something like this: Send follow up documents directly after the pitch; hear nothing back from the prospective client; send a follow-up email the following week; hear nothing back; send another follow-up email the following week; hear nothing back; send another follow-up email the following week etc. into perpetuity until you go crazy and re-apply for your old job.

I have learnt that busy decision-makers in the corporate environment don’t just sit at their desk all day reading and responding to emails. They’re on the move, in important meeting after important meeting, flying to London followed by a quick trip to Doha and then 10 days in New York. They’re not setting the wheels in motion in response to your proposal in that spare 30 minutes in the airport.

As such, when they are available, you need their full attention and you need to get them to commit to the next step. Either a phone call or in-person visit is effective with this. Getting through to them and asking them the difficult questions about the next step is the only way to be top of mind, and to find out if they are serious about this deal or not.

From my lessons, I recommend emails as secondary to the phone call as a way of confirming what was discussed over the phone in terms of next steps.

3. Improve the product / service – become irresistible

With all else said, there is only one way to consistently increase chances of getting a deal over the line. That is, simply, have an incredible product or service that solves a real problem. If you have pitch after pitch where the response is luke-warm, you should ask them before leaving “what would this product have to do / look like for you to sign up right now?”.

Once you’ve had a few meetings like this, you will understand exactly what your market needs. If you build that product or service that the market craves, you’ll be turning away clients because the demand for your business will be so high. Become indispensable. Build something so good that your clients would be crazy to say no to.

4. Build a pipeline

Your business should never rely on one client saying yes. Putting too much emphasis on one deal will make you desperate, and desperation is the easiest way to scare someone away – relationship, business or anything else. Your market should be big enough that a rejection here and there is water under the bridge and simply a learning.

Closing one deal will provide a proof of concept and credibility that can be leveraged to close the next deal. Each subsequent client should, in theory, be easier to win than the previous one.

Finally, if the product or service is constantly being enhanced according to the market’s needs, if there are enough clients in the pipeline, and if the follow-ups after a great pitch are being done effectively, deals should go through systematically. At the end of the day, closing a deal shouldn’t feel like hard work. The best way to win business is by building a great business that solves real problems.

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Forums & Events

Mary Njoki to Speak During the 2019 SME Breakfast Forum

Kimani Patrick

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GlassHousePR MD, Mary Njoki, is set to speak at the revamped breakfast forum for SMEs on June 11th 2019.

The event, organised and hosted by Inversk Magazine, is a 4-hour learning and networking forum for senior business leaders including CEOs, CFOs, COOs, presidents, business owners, founders, managers and other executives.

The event’s theme is Business Scale Up and selected speakers will discuss and share their experience in setting openness and trust with employees, customers and other stakeholders in growing an enterprise.

Mary Njoki’s talk will majorly focus on creating, building and strengthening relationships through public relations. Her firm, GlassHousePR, is among the leading Public Relations firms in Kenya with a track record of driving desirable results for firms such as Facebook, Credit Bank, Dinara Developers, Viber, Bountiful safaris, Banda Homes among many others.

In addition to learning and listening to success stories on how companies have built trust, culture, sustainable innovation and reputation in their companies, participants attending #SMEBF2019 will be able to drill down into the key issues that are most relevant to their businesses leaving with tangible tools of business transformation.

Other speakers at the event include David Svarrer, an Enterprise Solutions Architect who will speak on Sustainable innovation and Scaling, and Muchiri Wambugu, the Popote Payments MD who will delve into Capital management and petty cash handling – The best practices to save your business both cash and time while maximizing profits.

Individual tickets are now selling at a discounted price of Ksh 3,500 through Mpesa Paybill: 650377 for A/C: SME Breakfast.

Marketing Opportunity

This forum presents a unique opportunity for brand positioning and communication that will enjoy optimal visibility before decision makers who have significant purchasing power and decision-making authority. Interested organizations and/or persons can reach Kimani Patrick (lead organizer) on 0710 254524 or kimani@inversk.co.ke. Inquiries to the event can also be directed to him through the same contact lines.

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Features

Ajira Digital: What You Need to Know

News Team

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With the advent of technology and the internet, there has been an increasing utilization of online digital platforms to sell their goods and services. In line with this, the Government of Kenya, under the Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology launched Ajira Digital on the 24th of November 2016.

About Ajira Digital

The main aim of the initiative is to empower over one million young people to access digital job opportunities. It also seeks to bridge the gap between skills demand and the lack of jobs among the youth.

The program seeks to position Kenya as a choice labor destination for multinational companies as well as encourage local companies and the public sector to create digital work. The government digitization projects already create lots of viable micro work that can be completed by digital workers.

The main objectives of the program are:

  • To raise the profile of digital work among all Kenyans
  • Promote a mentorship and collaborative learning approach to finding digital work
  • Provide Kenyans with access to digital work
  • Promote Kenya as a destination for online workers

The guiding principles of the Ajira Digital Program are:

  • Private sector first – value generation through the private sector
  • Sustainability – orchestrate the ecosystem to self-regulate and grow organically
  • Eliminate brokers – generating more value to the youth
  • Promote the domestic economy – the realization of a knowledge economy

The components of the Ajira digital program have been designed to address the main challenges that hinder the youth from benefiting from digital job opportunities. They are:

  • Access to dignified work – growing the local demand, Government becoming an anchor client and positioning Kenya as a choice labor destination for multinationals globally
  • Education and skills for the dynamic, always changing online jobs
  • Access to infrastructure – Innovation Hubs, Kazi Connect Centers, Studio Mashinani, Y254 TV Channel
  • Awareness – Building trust and confidence

Key Project Interventions

  1. Training

The project targets to train youth (inexperienced (new) online workers) through a one-week residential training. The training aims to equip the youth with basic soft skills and introduction to online work skills, digital marketing, and basic financial management skills across five implementation locations in Kenya namely: Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Meru, and Nakuru.

In addition, the project targets to train experienced online work freelancers through a 2-day training with the aim of equipping the selected online work freelancers with skills to scale up and develop their businesses into agencies and source for more work to share with new online workers. The experienced freelancers are ultimately expected to handhold the new online workers through one-month mentorship.

  1. Mentorship

Upon successful completion of the training, the participants are transitioned to one-month mentorship through handholding by the experienced freelancers. The mentorship is aimed at enhancing the trained youth’s skills on online work thereby increasing their access to online jobs.

How to Join Ajira Digital Kenya for Training

Ajira Kenya carries out ongoing training and mentorship and offers guidance on how to work online in Kenya. Spaces are limited so you have to book early. Training is offered on a first come, first served basis.

To Register for Ajira training, visit official Ajira Digital website and enroll. You will then receive an email with your booking information. Print the details as you will need to present them in order to be allowed to attend any training sessions. After registration, you will be notified via email when Ajira training sessions are available in your County.

The training, which is free of charge, lasts one week after which one is given a certificate. The requirements are simple; a personal computer, internet connection, and basic computer skills.

Pros of Ajira Digital

  • Increased awareness of online jobs in Kenya
  • Training and mentorship are offered free of charge, helping those who would otherwise have been unable to pay.
  • Possible provision of tools of trade such as easy access to computers and the internet for the disadvantaged.
  • The admin keeps editing the site regularly since its creation to weed out possible bugs.
  • Thought leaders and entrepreneurs may come up with splendid online solutions due to the fact that it will give rise to increased competition.

Cons of Ajira Digital

  • It may lead to a decline in the price of doing business and possibly mess up existing struggling online workers as there will be many workers but few or no jobs.
  • The site only provides links to a few sites that existing online workers already know, which is nothing new.
  • Their current model makes the goal of creating one million jobs is unrealistic. This is because the 1 million people targeted will need access to computers and the internet, which are still very expensive to low-income earners. Some parts of Kenya are also not connected to electricity, let alone high-speed internet connectivity. They will also need daily jobs to sustain themselves.
  • Creation of jobs does not happen on the site. People are simply directed to sites that may or may not give the perceived results.
  • The possibility of Ajira Digital becoming obsolete and forgotten after many young Kenyans join all these sites and don’t get the intended results leading to high chances that they will quit online work.

Available jobs

Ajira digital online offers different type of jobs for different professions including:

  • Transcription
  • Writing
  • Sales and marketing
  • Software development/programming
  • Data science and analytics
  • Engineering and architecture
  • Support and customer service
  • Web design/graphics and creative design

Ajira digital ensures that they provide genuine and trusted websites that are currently looking for online workers. They, however, advise workers to do thorough research on the available websites to avoid unscrupulous websites on the internet.

Ajira digital program contacts and office locations

Physical location

Ajira Digital Offices: 10th floor, Teleposta Towers, 29 Kenyatta Ave, Nairobi

Mobile contacts: +254 20 4920000/1

Email: ajira@ict.go.ke

Twitter: @AjiraDigital

Facebook: Ajira Digital

Website: Ajiradigital

Conclusion

Ajira Digital is a good initiative from the government. However, the government needs to improve it and find ways to link young people using the platform directly to jobs. Entrepreneurs creating online businesses would also be of great benefit to the program. They would create the jobs needed to sustain these youths as they look for work online.

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