BY SOPHIA WANUNA
Businessman Chris Kirubi speaks to KTN‘s Sophia Wanuna on challenges and triumphs of entrepreneurs and innovators ahead of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit to be attended by US President Barack Obama in Nairobi this month.
Many entrepreneurs complain about manufacturing facing many challenges, your take on this Manufacturing is for the tough guys. Tough is what you need to be tested to the limits.
Why are Kenyans not buying Kenyan products?
I produce quality products. Why can‘t schools and even government get them from me, yet they are affordable? We need to support local industries without which we won‘t create jobs. I have been threatened with my life when I speak out against mitumbas, while our textiles are dying.
What do we need to do to ensure people can afford to produce locally instead of importing?
If you have a big marketing plan, with a big manufacturing plan, you can afford to lower your cost. But without a market, production is expensive. This is the case for local industries. The State can do more to incentivise us, but the people also need to support it. We need local value addition to our product. The WTO rules don‘t help us as much. We also need to fight for the same global market.
What are your expectations on the upcoming GES 2015, Global Entrepreneurship Summit?
It is an opportunity for Kenya to put its best foot forward and show that we are the best in Africa and that there are a lot of investment opportunities in this country. I hope the media will highlight the opportunities available in the counties, the safety of manufacturing and producing here at home. Kenya is one of the fastest growing economies in Africa and the world and I believe that it is only Kenyans who believe in it. So let us zero in on this and talk about the goodness of Kenya for a while.
What would you tell people who want to invest in Kenya?
There are a lot of opportunities in manufacturing and energy sectors, infrastructure and consumer goods. In the whole region, we have over 200 million people. If we seize this, we can be the hub of Africa. So many multinationals are already set up here. We are going to demonstrate that this is the region to invest in. But, nobody will come if we don‘t believe in what we have.
What was the recent scandal at Haco tiger brands?
There was nothing wrong. Sometimes, managers become over-enthusiastic. They only invoiced the goods to be shipped out in the future. They had achieved their target, but the goods were still in the warehouse, so somebody had to pay the price of transparency. Sometimes, we want to produce an inducement to make me achieve what I want to get done today.
The private sector is also not clean. We need to create a code of conduct herein. But it is also a world challenge and we need to find a way to ensure a balance of doing things. We need to clean our country. Even the media needs to change, much as it also highlights the cases. It is a national challenge.
This story was originally written on The Standard website.