Interview with a Local Radio Station…

Written by Obed Simiyu Monday, 20 September 2010 13:34

TWENTY Seven years ago, in a sleepy dull Sirisia village in the now vast Bungoma county, a little baby boy was born and given the name Zack Mukewa.

There were no much celebrations to mark his birth leave for the joy of a newly married couple giving thanks for their first born child and the usual gossip from both good and wicked kinsmen.

Zack, son to Mr. Peter Mukewa and Mrs. Dinah Mukewa, never knew that as he studied at the Lugulu Boarding Primary School and later at the prestigious Friends School Kamusinga he would be a celebrated young man.

After successfully completing his studies, he joined Moi University 2002 – 2006 (Bachelor of Business management), Jomo Kenyatta University 2007 – 2008 (Post Graduate Diploma, Computer Science), Strathmore University (Certified Public Accountant) and United States International University  where he just started a Masters in International Business Administration.

He has worked at Barclays Bank of Kenya and currently a Credit and Investment Analyst at Industrial Development Bank, Nairobi.

“I hope to work with The Treasury, World Bank or United Nations Development programme in years to come,” he says.

With an experience in Development Finance and Project management and willing to help communities realize real development and empowerment, West FM put him to task on how Bungoma County would stand tall as an economical hub among the 47 counties set out in the new constitution.

West fm:  As a business professional, is the new constitution economically friendly?

Zack: The new constitution will not only improve governance structures in the country by allowing greater accountability by the Government but will also boost citizen participation in all sectors of the economy. The new constitution would be a boom for the private sector by establishing structures that create a conducive environment for a vibrant private sector. The Constitution is expected to give way to job and wealth creation for our people.

With establishment of the counties in the new constitution, funds are expected to be spread across the country. This will ensure that the localities of the various counties build economies of their own thus providing the locals with opportunities for business, employment under less bureaucratic and streamlined governance processes.

What are some of the positive economical inputs that can be adopted by the country’s business class to spiral economic recovery?

The Kenyan business community is wide. Business practices that each segment employs are relative to their target group, their sector and also the scale of their operations. I am particularly interested in the role Small and medium Enterprises can play in driving our economy and livelihoods.

Kenya as a country holds a spirit commonly known as ‘Harambee’; coming together. As much as the Government and players in the finance sector will keep packaging products that SME’s can use to establish and grow their businesses, the foundation from which these businesses are formed are what will propel them towards achieving their goals and realizing not only economic recovery but actual growth.

Many business people fear coming together where money and profits are involved. Looking at those who have excelled, the multinationals of this world, they are called ‘shareholders’. The spirit of coming together, identifying common goals and working appropriate methodology to realize this is one way businesses can have meaningful impact on communities, economies and Kenya as a Nation.

With devolution of power and resources from the central government to the counties, how best could it be utilized or rather put into force to benefit the locals therein?

Many of us intuitively feel that local control often produces better results than central control. However, intuition is usually not considered a valid argument in the political marketplace.

Devolution will give Kenyans across counties an enhanced sense of nationhood, and will assist the movement towards realization of people and economic empowerment right where people are. Kenya, with the new constitution dispensation has certainly grown up as a nation, and there is a renewed confidence and pride at large throughout the country. It is now the duty of the Assembly to bring about economic and social cohesion and unity throughout the regions, and address the conditions with regard to the issues dear to the people in localities.

This will involve decentralization of administration which should be devolved from Nairobi for the benefit of the areas of the country which suffer deprivation.

Of course the ideal benefits will be the counties prioritizing the locals in employment, business and social opportunities.

Shall there be real devolution of resources?

The constitution requires that 15% of the wealth made by each county remains at the county for development purposes. The government also through its arms will extend funds to the counties to enhance development in the localities.

There are a number of learned young people who are still jobless, how can they seize this opportunity to emancipate themselves economically and financially?

I hold the thought that our Education system is both to blame for the many young unemployed people and also holds the key to the solution for many unemployed young people.

Through school and in many homes around the country, children are always advised to study hard so that they can get a good job. The 8.4.4 system was designed to enable Kenyans be self sufficient in terms of realizing self employment, grabbing opportunities available and making them worthwhile.

The new constitution seeks to address among other things, the rural urban migration. This means that many more young people are going to lack sufficient reason to move to the cities since there will be enough avenues to realize business and self employment opportunities at their counties. This way they will realize personal and community growth.

In the long run perhaps, stakeholders in the education sector and parents can lay emphasis on children realizing that going to school won’t accord them a good job but provide them with an opportunity to learn something they can specialize and make a living.

Western Province is one of the most resourceful regions in the country but it still remains one of the underdeveloped, what are some of the opportunities that have been overlooked over the years but which can be exploited at the moment?

Commercial Agriculture; this is in reference to farming. There is room for large scale farming for Cereals especially in the Kitale and Bungoma regions, Tobacco in the Malakisi region, Sugar cane around Mumias and Nzoia among others.

Tourism; Western province is rich in culture. With the diverse Luhya sub clans practicing one thing or the other that attracts interest not only regionally but also internationally, communities can realize income and growth with ridding of negative ethnicity and tradition. There is the Wanga Kingdom, The Bukusu Circumcision, and The Bull fighting, these can provide room for establishment of infrastructure that will realize growth. There is also the Kakamega Forest, Mount Elgon, Sio Port and Kitale Museum among others that can provide opportunity.

How can young enterprising people from Western Kenya get to know how to invest? And how can they work through competition from other entities established by more influential, experienced or even fellow first timers in the sector.

Western province has for long suffered from a syndrome of not supporting homegrown business and talent. The communities are always quick to embrace foreign ideology, entities and such. There is always quick dismissal of anyone in locality attempting to do business, institute positive change and such.

I believe western province holds some of the brightest brains. Some of the most innovative people who suffer from not having opportunity to demonstrate what they can or support to realize their goals, especially businesswise. People are educated and ideas are not scarce. The people need to be educated on the importance of team spirit, cohesion and togetherness in business. It is also wrong to see competition as enemy, the idea should be embracing local before foreign, this way competition will not grow. If someone supported a Wafula and Sons Limited, then chances are that Patel and Sons will not really find way. This is however not to say that Tribalism and nepotism should be embraced.

Could you tell us how you have been successful yourself?

Well, saying I am successful is quite a challenge here. But I can say I am on track to realize something I can God willingly transfer to a generation after me. I come from a family that emphasizes the importance of education thus I have schooled most of my life.

I am thankful for the accomplishments I have made so far, career and business related. I know there is a lot more I am due to achieve, for personal growth, business and community development.

Your advice to the young generation who are willing to get their foot in business.

In every decision we make in life, we anticipate either success or failure. It is incumbent upon us to believe in our ideas, seek professional help and understand that risks are just part of business. No meaningful investor can realize any growth without anticipating challenges in all they do. We also can’t know everything, that’s why we have to seek professionals help on issues we don’t understand best.


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