In Summary
  • President Kenyatta ordered that the artisans should not be interrupted and he was right, since all the public land around them had been grabbed by the rich, who have converted it into bustling estates. 
  • What is done in Dagoretti can be replicated on Outer Ring Road and in all other rudimentary furniture-making centres in Kenya.
  • This belief is the reason you find low-quality products from Asia in many homes when similar products of better quality are produced locally.  

Let me start by thanking all of you who commented on my contribution last week.

Unlike in the past, we now have social media, which has fittingly reflected on what I wrote on how we can deal with the twin problems of poverty and unemployment. 

In the end, I will collate all of your ideas and develop a people-centred way forward.

In my musings on development and eliminating poverty, I am aware of great forces like corruption that impede the fight against poverty. 

Those of you who have kept abreast of the news know that cartels run virtually every sector in this country.

Imagine how satisfying it would be if we overcame this herculean task ahead of us. The more we throw our hands up in the air and surrender, the easier we make it for the cartels.  This is no time to give up.

Some of our people in the diaspora have great hope that we can succeed. One reader, Stephen Seda in Atlanta, says that banks are particularly interested in financial literacy programs because eventually they lead to depositors and people who start businesses with small loans.

To provide information and close the education gap, we must all be the agents of change. The conversion of Muramati Cooperative Society in Murang’a to Unaitas, a powerful microfinance institution that is likely to ultimately become a bank, will change the lives of many poor people who may never have known what scaling a business is.

It took the leadership of a few visionaries to carry a large contingent of the poor into global players.

But enough on last week’s commentary. Today I want to show how we can scale up the furniture industry in Kenya. I  will lead with a small anecdote that ought to encourage policymakers to do something.

A few weeks back, I travelled to Karen Shopping Centre to interview Lillian, an emerging entrepreneur in the online organic market. I arrived late ,and it took me a while to get back to the city due to the legendary Dagoretti-Karen traffic.

HEAVY HANGING CLOUD

Lillian’s business is being held back by the lack of an efficient logistics firm, and she has been forced to invest in a complementary logistics enterprise, away from her core business.

She cannot maximise her profits because the transportation business she has created cannot be optimally exploited.

Sometimes, it takes more than two hours to travel the three kilometres between Dagoretti Corner and Karen Shopping Centre. The traffic jam is exacerbated by the open-air furniture-making micro enterprise along the way. 

If it's not people buying furniture, then it's the beautiful furniture displayed by the roadside distracting drivers.  

Many motorists complain about the delays, and the expansion of the highway between the two centres has stopped. 

President Kenyatta ordered that the artisans should not be interrupted and he was right, since all the public land around them had been grabbed by the rich, who have converted it into bustling estates. 

It's a live, heavy, hanging cloud but it has a silver lining. With one more order, he can make their lives even better, while at the same time enabling construction of the road to proceed.  

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