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Pollution Starts and Ends With A Clean Environment

News Team

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The world environment day was held on the 5th of June 2019. The day, which is observed in most parts of the world, seeks to reflect on interventions taken on matters environment. In 2019, the focus was on beating air pollution. In Kenya today, the levels of pollution continue to rise amidst increased industrialization, infrastructure development as well as growing activities in the construction sector. The National Environmental Management Agency (NEMA) has time and again been in the mainstream media advocating for observation of the requirements to ensure safe and clean environmental interventions.

Their stand is based on the challenges at the grassroots level where communities in areas with heavy industrial action including Baba Dogo, Syokimau, Athi River, Dandora and even Industrial Area have continued to complain about air pollution. In the case of Syokimau, there has been a great increase in habitation with many urban populations moving in the area that is within the precincts of the capital city. However, the area of residence is not all that rosy! Fumes of burning metal increase in the evening while in some areas the fumes from industrial and motor smoke are increased in the morning.

Globally, air pollution is a crisis that affects not only the environment but people’s health in addition to affecting global warming. Research in China, for example, found that children who grew up in polluted areas risk having reduced intelligence or developing symptoms of asthma. Already, there has been evidence of pregnant women in polluted areas losing their babies to miscarriages or having the babies prematurely as a result of long term exposure to air pollution. In other cases, the presence of low birth weight has been reported.

But how can we beat air pollution?

A suggestion from the World Health Organization indicates that this will be achieved through managing industries, transportation, waste and burning of fossil fuels. This requires both individual and corporate effort in line with WHO as well as MDG7 that has to do with natural resources base and ecosystems sustainability.

The latter will help to meet people’s food requirements and other environmental, social and economic needs. Climate change, increased water scarcity, and conflicts over access to resources all pose challenges to environmental sustainability and food security.

Bearing in mind the environmental pillar of the Optiven Foundation, this is what drove the team to reach out to the community in Ngatataek, Kajiado County on 5th June 2019. The team of over 20 staff joined the community to clean up the market area and rid it of the marauding dirt that was making it an eyesore.

The exercise provided an opportunity for partnership with the local community including scouts and girl guides from the Ngatataek Boarding School, the local administration, and the business community of Ngatataek area. At the end of the event, tonnes of garbage, mainly plastic and other waste were transported to a garbage dump and burnt symbolically to encourage the community to be self-aware of the need to protect the environment.

Speaking when he rolled out the cleaning exercise, Mr. George Wachiuri, the Chairman of the Optiven Foundation called on the community and specifically the business owners of Ngatataek to be involved individually to ensure that the area is rid of garbage and plastic in particular. Wachiuri singled out the status of Machakos County and urged the local administration to borrow a leaf and make Ngatataek a model green city in the near future. His sentiments were echoed by local leaders led by Mr. Daniel Kupai, the Senior Chief of Ngatataek who reminded the community that a clean environment will serve their families well and keep the environment clean.

Kupai was speaking shortly after welcoming the team from Optiven Foundation and the residents of Ngatataek to the cleanup exercise, during which he reminded them that air pollution is a result of improper waste management. He thanked the Optiven Foundation for accepting to donate garbage bins in the next three months that will help alleviate the behavior of open dumping.

Speaking at the same event, ODM Nominated Member of the County Assembly Grace Munei encouraged the community to teach their children cleanliness for a greener cleaner city in the future. The team was speaking at Ngatataek market shortly after hosting Mrs. Mary Wachuka – a trustee of the Optiven Foundation who donated sanitary towels to over 200 girls at Ngatataek Primary School.

She advised that supporting girls ensures that none stays at home because of having their periods – a key incentive to ensure education for all. Mrs. Wachuka further encouraged the pupils to focus on education in order to be competent in the corporate world and be transformers in their own society. She was accompanied by over 30 employees of Optiven Group who also participated in a tree planting exercise at the school grounds.

Mr. Wachiuri also took time to empower the boys at the schools during which time he reiterated that the youth at the grassroots level are lacking mentors to help them be better citizens. He donated footballs to the boys to enable them to use their energies and time appropriately while urging other corporate organizations to follow suit.

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Companies

WeWork to lay off 4,000 Workers in a Bid to Achieve Financial Stability After Failed IPO

Georgina Korir

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At least 4,000 people are set to be laid off work by WeWork from its workforce, The New York Times reported on Sunday.

WeWork is expected to announce the cuts as early as this week as it is recovering from major losses after a failed IPO in September this according to The Times.

The Times was told by a person with knowledge of the matter that the company’s core office-sharing business would slash 2,000 to 2,500 employees from its global ventures. The source added that around 1,000 employees from noncore businesses will exit the embattled real estate startup and 1,000 maintenance workers will be transferred to an outside contractor.

According to The Times, this exodus represents roughly a third of the company’s 12,500 employees. A second source with knowledge of the matter said the number of layoffs could be as high as 5,000 or 6,000.

The sources said, the announcement will be part of the company’s five-year plan to completely overhaul the business recovering from the brink of bankruptcy. They added, the announcement could be presented to staff as early as Tuesday.

A spokesperson for WeWork declined to comment on the report.

WeWork received a $10 billion bailout which took control of the company in October after it failed to go public from Japanese investment firm Softbank. Softbank also gave CEO and cofounder Adam Neumann $1.7 billion to step down from his position as chairman of the board at WeWork.

WeWork said it lost $1.25 billion in the third quarter last week.

While injecting money into WeWork, Softbank also took a massive hit in the July to September period losing a record $6.46 billion.

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Banks

Co-Op Bank Profit Grows to Ksh 10.9B in Nine Months

Georgina Korir

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Cooperative Bank Group has reported a Ksh.10.9 billion profit for the third quarter in 2019 representing a 5.8 percent jump in earnings by the lender to the close of September.

The lender which is the third largest by assets in the region, said the growth was driven by its “soaring eagle” transformative agenda that has retooled and equipped the business with added competitive advantage.

The increased issuance of digital loans which serve to raise income derived from fees and commissions have played a major role in the growth in earnings by the bank. Digital loan issuance on MCo-op Cash is rising ahead of the bank’s traditional loan book to Ksh.27.6 billion as the lender’s non-funded income has surged forward by 33 percent to Ksh.14.1 billion

The group’s total operating income grew by 9% from KSh 32.3 billion to KSh 35.2 billion while its total assets grew 9% to KSh 440.8 billion compared to Ksh 404.2 billion in the same period last year.

Nevertheless, Co-op retained its likeness for the Treasury, a departure from observed exits by peers, to increase its investments in the portfolio by a further 13 percent to Ksh.94.6 billion from Ksh.83.2 billion last year.

In spite of the prolific growth of both net loans and advances to customers and deposits, Co-op’s net interest earnings slightly tumbled. While the lender has grown its neighborhood-based banking agents to 16,000, 90 percent of the bank’s customer transactions already sit outside branches.

As gross non-performing loans (NPLs) rose to Ksh.30 billion from Ksh.29 billion, the lender’s operating expenses picked up by a notable 11 percent on the back of higher loan loss provisions

The bank expects to keep by the diversification tune to strengthen its dominance on its core market segment encompassing retail banking and the cooperative movement.

Co-op Group Managing Director Gideon Muriuki reported that “the group continues to leverage on the benefits of the transformation agenda which has re-tooled and equipped the business with added competitive edge as reflected in the sustained growth in market share across all market segments.”

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Companies

Mumias Sugar Company Sacks All Employees Following the Receivership by KCB

Georgina Korir

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Just a month after the Mumias sugar company was placed under receivership by the Kenya Commercial Bank; all the employees working at the company have been sacked.

The company was placed under receivership by KCB owing to the numerous debts which the it owed the bank dating back to 1972. The company had borrowed Ksh10 million as loan from KCB and it took more between 1972 and 2014 which amounted to more than Ksh3 billion all together.

“Consequent to the company being placed in receivership, all employees’ contracts stand terminated from the date of receivership i.e. 20th September, 2019.” This, the company said in a letter dated November 5, 2019. The Mumias Sugar Company however said that all affected employees would be lawfully compensated.

“Any payment to the affected employees shall be dealt with in accordance with the provision of the law,” the letter read in part. New staff will be hired so as to keep the company operational and most of the priority will be given to the now former employees who have just been fired.

“Accordingly, the Receiver shall engage the services of any employee on a temporary basis on mutually agreeable terms until the time when the operations resume. Priority will however be given to the past employees while recruiting the staff on temporary basis until the time when the company’s operations are revived,” ended the letter.

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