Kudos to CBiT Consultants Print

At CBiT we believe in offering excellent services!
This was demonstrated during the JICA/EPC/KIBT Project award giving ceremony where two of CBiT’s trainers, Beatrice Mwasi and Henry Mugweru received awards of excellence for outstanding business development training and coaching services. The ceremony was held at the Laico Regency in Nairobi on 5th December 2012.

The CBiT trainers received trophies and certificates that outlined the outstanding qualities of each trainer and the courses covered during the Trade Training Programme for SME exporters as follows:
Mr. Mugweru was awarded for “Excellent performance for the outstanding motivational facilitation capacity in SMEs Export Trade Training and Kaizen Cluster Business Management Training” and his dynamic training and facilitation of the following course: Entrepreneurship skills, Business Strategy, Shop flow management skills/ 5s activity, Business capability building, Export Marketing Strategy, Export Logistics and Transactions, Product Development.

Mrs. Mwasi on the other hand was awarded for her “Excellent and heartful performance in SME’s Export Trade Training and for her exceptional design capability in the development of Kaizen Information, Education and Communication (IEC) Materials” as well as her dynamic training and facilitation of the following course: Entrepreneurship, Business Strategy, Kaizen Shop Floor Management Skills/5S Activity, Business Capability Building, Export Marketing, Export Logistics and Transaction, Product Development and Export Finance

The trade training programme, which benefitted more than 30 SMEs from across the country, was tailored to assist SME exporters to improve their exporting skills through Practical Export Trade Training (PETT) and Export Coaching. This is under the partnership of Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA), The Export Promotion Council (EPC) and Kenya Institute of Business Training (KIBT).

To effectively deliver the objectives of the above project, JICA and its partners sought the services of external experts (consultants) to offer training and capacity building support. This therefore provided yet another chance for CBiT to offer its exceptional training and consulting services.

Navigating Your Business Through Turbulent Times

Business has become a risky venture in the present uncertain and less than perfect times. Whether dealing locally or globally, the story is the same, and what happens in one corner of the globe is likely to have a lot of ramifications on other parts, thousands of miles away, thanks to globalization. Take for instance, the widespread political instability in the oil producing countries of the Middle East and Northern Africa. Temporary loss of Libya’s crude oil production put significant pressure on world oil markets. And in the European Union, there is sovereign debt crisis in some countries which now threatens the stability of the world’s financial system. The world’s super power is not spared either. Despite generous stimulus packages, the recovery of the US has not turned out as expected. The continuous unemployment and other historic downgrading of America’s debt rating have posed significant economic challenges. Turning back home, the Al Shabaab threat and the approach of the general elections in March 2013 both cast a dark shadow on the business world, partly owing to the post-election violence experienced in 2007/2008.

Economic downturns are nothing new; in fact they are as much a part of the business cycle as are long periods of sustained growth and prosperity. Yet as companies grapple with the current economic situation, many are recognizing that this particular downturn in the business cycle is different from those that preceded it. Indeed, today’s business context, characterized by rapidly intensifying globalization that has substantially increased the complexity, risk and uncertainty of doing business – has only served to exacerbate the challenge of managing through a difficult economy.

Consequently, companies seeking high performance must make more bold decisions, earlier and often based on less certain information than they would ‘normally’ contemplate. The combination of thinking through consequences (in both their upside and downside combinations and permutations), in a competitive decision-making context, is what makes the difference in uncertain economic times. Gaining the benefits of first-mover advantage is paramount, because many open or partially open doors may shut as the situation advances. Although early bold decisions may result in less than optimal outcomes, the more risky course of action is to wait for events to unfold before making a decision, even if paradoxically, that decision is to wait and see.

Strategic decisions must be deliberate and be based on a full evaluation of all available information and a consideration of all the possible outcomes in a highly volatile, highly complex, highly interactive global environment. Two components are therefore critical in this situation: the quality and comprehensiveness of the information available to make decisions; and the ability to think through the consequences of decision options. It is important to note that these prescriptions apply whether the situation being confronted represents an opportunity or a threat.

In our research and work with clients around Eastern Africa, CBiT has seen firsthand the struggles many companies have been through in identifying the most appropriate responses to unfavorable economic times. We have seen organizations reflexively and indiscriminately reduce personnel to save cost, only to find later that they don’t have enough of the right people to meet their operations. We have also seen businesses stray from their core competencies in the hope of finding new revenue opportunities, only to seriously harm their brand and balance sheet because of poor performance. And of course, there are other companies that have been simply paralyzed by fear, unable to take any actions because they may be the wrong ones and cause the company irreparable damage.

However, the picture is not all grim because we have also seen companies that have maneuvered round difficult times, flourishing in a downturn, and positioning themselves to be even stronger when the economy eventually improves. How do they do it? One is tempted to ask. It is true that leading companies practice sound, value-based financial management, emphasizing cash flow and strong balance sheets during good times. This strategy provides flexibility and financial muscle during bad times. Armed with a deep knowledge of their value levers, these leading companies position themselves strategically in the good times to take advantage of the bad ones, not the reverse. They strengthen positions rather than change course during the unfavorable times, taking advantage of the flexibility through a continued value-based management focus. 

High performance businesses take decisive action beforehand to discern what they do to guard themselves against the long-term negative effects of uncertain times when most of their peers are struggling.  So we need to know the drivers of high performance in order to understand the true nature of high performance businesses. It is important to realize that there are three interdependent building blocks of high performance, namely: Market focus and position, distinctive capabilities and performance anatomy. In difficult economic times, when companies execute strategies, they need to keep an eye toward long term high performance and continually balance, align and renew the three building blocks.

Market focus and position, which involves the “where and how to compete” aspect of a business strategy, is particularly important in managing through uncertain times. It is therefore no wonder that high-performance businesses have remarkable clarity when it comes to setting strategic direction, and are always found where the action is in the market. Through their market focus and position, high performance businesses achieve a kind of strategic decision-making capability that enables them to compete in the best markets and maximize growth opportunities without reaching or scaling beyond their limits. They are also extremely adept at making the right decisions that can enable them to manage, often simultaneously, across near, medium and long-term horizons. This ability creates their competitive essence through a careful combination of insight and action.

In conclusion, it is important to note that high performance businesses are able to change “ahead of the curve” and differentiate themselves significantly from the competitors. In other words, high performance businesses proactively and continuously transform their operations in a manner which enables them to strategically exploit the opportunities of uncertainties while others manage it tactfully, often with a pure focus on cost containment.


SME Capacity Building

The 4th of September 2012 saw the graduation of 161 participants of the BMOs Capacity Building and Advocacy Training project in Kisumu. This project is an initiative of the European Union (EU), Ministry of Trade and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) that aims to improve Private Sector development and growth in Kenya and ultimately contribute to the alleviation of poverty. The 161 graduands were drawn from 6 Business Member Organizations (BMOs) in Kisumu that were selected to participate in the Business skills training that was designed and delivered by the Center for Business Innovation Training (CBiT).

Present to grace the occasion were key officials from the European Union, the UNDP and the Ministry of Trade, who are the major stakeholders in the training. In their speeches, guest after guest reiterated their appreciation for commitment shown by participants and urged them to put into practical use the skills that had been acquired in the training.
In her key note speech, the Director, Department of Internal Trade, Mrs. Joyce Ogundo who was the chief guest expressed her gratitude to the participants and the CBiT team for having made the training a success and further urged the graduands to make good use of opportunities as they arise. “This training serves as a platform to change the negative statistics that this region has long been associated with,” she remarked. On her part, Mrs. Matilda Onyait, the District Trade Officer for Kisumu urged the participants to engage her office because they are the reason for its existence. She particularly emphasized on the Business Information Centre and challenged the graduands to effectively utilize the services offered in the facility and transform their businesses.

Owing to these encouraging messages, the participants were also quite upbeat about their businesses and felt that the training, which had equipped them with knowledge and skills on Leadership, Governance, Lobbying and Advocacy, Strategic Planning, Business Proposal Writing and Market Leadership through value creation, would bring a new lease of life to their enterprises. In connection to this, the group leaders made detailed presentations on what their groups had achieved from the 3-month Capacity and Advocacy Support that they had got. “From here, Dunga Fishermen Co-operative Society will not be the same again. We are going to improve our productivity through Aqua-Culture and market our fish in a better way,” said Mr. John Oketch, the co-operative’s chairman as he made a presentation on the gains his group had made from the training.
The beaming faces of the graduands, with certificates held out proudly, did little to hide their excitement and the sense of empowerment they got from this training. The sentiments below from a number of the participants tell it all.

Feedback regarding the Training by Participants

“Personally, I would like to thank UNDP in collaboration with CBiT for the knowledge that we’ve been offered. Otherwise, I request for continuous support in terms of trainings and funding for product development.”
(Nicholas Didi)

“To be precise, knowledge cannot be valued. After three months of participation and being oriented by the knowledgeable trainers, I have been transformed. Having such knowledge to run organization or business and mostly to run my life with business or entrepreneurial skills, was a BIG, BIG HELP. Kudos bravos for the transformation.”
(Joseph Austine)

“What I liked most was the relaxed, friendly atmosphere that was conducive to adult education, it was very interactive.”
(Daniel Ogolla)

“All in all, I learnt a lot as a young person and thank UNDP, EU & CBiT for the knowledge they have imparted in me. I am going out there open-minded, more knowledgeable & ready to build my country through my innovation. Thank you CBiT, UNDP and EU.”
(Christine Oduor)

“I thank the European Union, Government of Kenya and the UNDP for such a wonderful training they organized for the groups around Kisumu. KEEP IT UP!!!!!”
(Johannes Odhiambo Ochweda)

“My thanks go to our own facilitators from CBiT who put forward their best making sure that we get the necessary knowledge and skills to better our organizations. Thanks to groups which participated.”
(Kiplangat Moses Rotich)