Monday, May 23, 2016

Business Mentorship; 5 Success clues to borrow from "Indian Immigrant entrepreneurs"

By Virginia Mburu
And keep safely locked in your consciousness at all times ……

I was perusing the Standard on Sunday newspaper and noted the obvious- politics, the worsening insecurity, gender issues advocacy, commentaries, humour etc. 

I  made a special note that all these happenings has not stopped the First Lady’s “Beyond Zero”  train from pressing on  towards its target- fully fitted mobiles clinic trucks to help boost maternal delivery services. Kudos to you First Lady Margaret Kenyatta!

And then it hit me! 

That headline- “Revealed: Secrets behind thriving Indian immigrant entrepreneurs” by Winsely Masese. 

You know me…. Mwakazi- the Passionate Entrepreneur and owner of Makao Interior Designers, husband to one beautiful Pendo and father to Jabali and Waridi. 

That headline cannot escape my business eye. I was captivated and hungrily dug into this well of knowledge. How I wanted to be in the shoes of those entrepreneurs!  

All is not lost- the other day I noted that one of our very own entrepreneurs_ Keroche Industries CEO Tabitha Karanja won the CBNC Africa business Woman of the year 2014 award. Now was my chance to learn a few strategies that would catapult my enterprise to play in the  BBL- “Big Boys League”.

I was not disappointed. The article mentioned a few of the mega enterprises - Bidco, Sameer Group,  Comcraft Group, Scangroup, Nakumatt and  Athi River Mining. After reviewing the article, I   summarised the success secrets as under.

1.     Strategic Learning.
Yes strategic…and it starts early…..these entrepreneurs do not just take their kids through school. They prepare them to be future entrepreneurs / innovators and as such they emphasize on maths and sciences. 

They then encourage them to take up courses in engineering and medicine which gives them an edge to start own businesses in future. 

I thought of my lovely kids Waridi and Jabali who are still in primary school. How am I guiding them verbally or at times through body language?  Isn’t time I adopted a new approach?

By the way, Passionate Entrepreneur, do you understand what courses your children are taking in college and what they are likely to be when they graduate? 

Did you see this research that indicates that employers are dissatisfied with the work-readiness of graduates? The same report indicates that it takes an average of five years for a graduate to get a job. Scary, isn’t it?  

And how many young people out there are looking for white collar jobs (we used to call it “tarmacking”) and holding papers that cannot assist them? What if they put the skills and/or experiences to assist others and make a living or even build an enterprise in the process?

What about inside our businesses? Are we strategically developing and equipping yourself and the employees with the right skills to take our businesses to the next level? Or even training them to be future entrepreneurs? 

Scared they will compete with you? Competition will always be there anyway –wouldn’t rather the devil you know? You have better chances of collaborating which by the way is the new competition! Better still, they could form your community of your suppliers, distributors or customers!

2.     Strategic Social Support
The immigrants do not just network so that they get to meet the ‘who is who’ in the society. They have nurtured a culture whereby these networking events form a strategic social support with the goal of uplifting the community and fostering more entrepreneurship.
An example is given of  the Silicon Valley where the immigrants understood this clue and went on to set up  an organization (The Indus Entrepreneur) to mobilise information, know-how, skill, rules of engagement and capital (angel  funders) needed to start technology businesses.

Couple this with a system where the experienced entrepreneurs ‘talked and taught the walk’ and shared their experiences and challenges with the newbies and you can rightly guess the outcome!  

Now think of the networks we belong to. Hands up  to those of who you get all the information, know-how, skill, and capital you need for your business?  But then just  about how many networks offer this kind of support?  And what about setting new goals for the support group during the next meet up?

3.     Strategic Family Foundation
The entrepreneurs were brought up in families who were not only running businesses but they live together, eat together, were responsible and cared for one another. 

They were educated to the highest level as well as equipped with entrepreneurial skills early in life and as such starting a business was a most natural goal for the children. 

Drop into one of the businesses run by the Asians especially when schools are in recess and you are sure to observe and take home some remarkable lessons.

4.     Strategic Philanthropy
Wherever you were born, gratitude is an important virtue that we all learn from a young age. After learning “baba” and ‘mama”, the most likely word/s to learn next  is “thank you”. 

When we help the needy or give back to the society that has provided the opportunities we enjoy, we always get paid back in one way or other. 

In my college days, there was this gentleman who used to distribute bread to the street families around Jevanjee gardens and he owned- guess what-A bakery that is still going strong to this day!

As an entrepreneur, I cannot help mentioning the Manu Chandaria Business Incubation Centers built in a number our universities to support young entrepreneurs.  Or The Equity "Wings to Fly Program"...Still guessing why they are succeeding? And what kind of legacy they are building? What about you and me?

5.     Strategic Resource Management
Most of these entrepreneurs happen to be what we call the ‘rags to riches’ stories- poor backgrounds that precipitate a determination to overcome any obstacle and succeed to escape hunger and poverty.  Or they lost what they once owned and had to start from the bottom of the ladder.

They then consolidate the meagre resources at hand, watch every penny and spend within their means. In college, we used to make fun of the “carried lunch” the Indians shared over lunch. How- we used to wonder - when they could afford food from the best restaurant in town? Now you know -financial prudence!

They will then patiently pursue a certain line of business…… Yes- a  “mothers” patience is key as you learn and nurture the business. Now think about your average “business owner” who will be jumping into what is making money now and thus losing time to grow a mega enterprise. 

They also leverage on power of strategic partnerships that are developed within the strategic networks mentioned above. The writer notes that they have grown in a culture of assisting one another. Now you know why they flock and succeed together!

Over to you Passionate Entrepreneur; 

  • How can we “home grow” the above secrets from the immigrants to suit our situation?  
  • Which other success clues can we borrow?
Share your experiences, suggestions or questions in the comments section below. Who knows- We might as well make it to that Forbes list of Africa’s richest….

Whatever you do, make sure it results in less work, more money and positive impact.


Well , meet Mr. Mwakazi as he shares more business tips here

Virginia Mburu
The Work Less, Make more Money Passionate Entrepreneurs Coach
Virginia empowers and motivates Passionate Entrepreneurs to realize their purpose and pursue it. She then assists the entrepreneurs to clarify, prioritise and focus on management and marketing strategies and action plans that will get them to work less, make more money and positively impact within one year.  Download some of her gifts- absolutely free lessons on

No comments:

Post a Comment