Sam Floy

Interesting posts about start ups, East Africa and fried chicken

Author: samfloy (page 1 of 5)

The Edges of Society in Kenya (in a weekend)

Over the Easter weekend a good friend (Ben) and I spent a couple of nights an hour out of Nairobi. Despite the primary goal of “getting a way from it all”, the short excursion ended up showing several aspects of Kenyan culture not always visible from the day to day:

The Chinese influence, a hangover from the colonial era, and the emerging Kenyan middle class.

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The Economist Africa Innovation Summit

On Tuesday The Economist came to Nairobi to host an event on innovation in Africa. I went along (as part of the sponsorship deal for the podcast) and wanted to share some of the key things covered.

Unlike other conferences I’ve been to, there was a refreshing level of debate between panellists which facilitated getting to the crux of a number of issues.

Here are some key aspects:

1. Will Africa take a different development sequence?
Europe/ US/ Asia developed through ‘industrialisation’ i.e. building factories. Africa is developing in the time of mass connectivity and so will digitalisation side step this pattern?

Yes: many more opportunities to cheaply connect globally, especially regarding the gig economy
No: some things require “old fashioned” value creation i.e. you can’t smelt minerals with solar power alone

2. What is AI’s role in Africa’s development?
More than just an internet connection, Artificial Intelligence and robotics are developments that take jobs ordinarily fulfilled by humans.

The paradox: “AI may take jobs, but there are no jobs to take in Africa”

3. Kenya is an innovative tech hub?
Internationally recognised as a leader in FinTech through M-Pesa. However the founder of Bitpesa (interviewed here) argued:

“M-Pesa was 10 years’ ago. What’s happened since then? What’s next?!”

Her answer: Kenya needs to embrace blockchain technology

4. China’s role in Africa
On the whole China felt underrepresented from the conference. The country has a deep presence on the continent which may seem strange given the infancy of domestic markets.

Crux of the relationship: China is de-localising manufacturing of low value processes as they focus on AI

On the whole it was a thought-provoking day with considerate people discussing the development of the region. If you’re interested in other events, take a look here.

 

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Taking the initiative

This week I’ve been on the receiving end of what happens when people take the initiative.

We’re hiring someone at work and I had some applications sat in my inbox to be reviewed at some point which, in honesty, may have taken another week to get to.

I then received a phone call from someone enquiring about the position which suddenly got my attention.

She was polite and made the most of the opportunity on the phone “here’s why I’m interested in the position” etc. and before I knew it we were arranging a time to meet next week for coffee to discuss more.

Needless to say, those who haven’t called aren’t getting an interview just yet.

This got me thinking how my default setting is to not be too pushy and to view at as “impolite” to “hassle” people when trying to get something done together.

This is a very negative way to think about it, and if anything it’s impolite to expect the other person be wholly responsible for managing the scenario when they have other things on.

It shows a few things:

  • Taking action progresses the conversation even if it’s not “your turn”
  • Taking action is a great signal to the other person that you care about what you’re discussing (if you sit in silence, they are none the wiser)
  • So long as you’re polite, it will likely be seen as a positive move
  • If someone is still not interested, this is great info to realise you shouldn’t waste your time
  • Talking on the phone > email

So my takeaway is when I think of needing to follow up with someone is to just crack on and do it straight away. Speaking on the phone, where possible.

 

This post originally featured on the weekly newsletter, click here to subscribe.

Radical candour

I’m now back in Nairobi and into the swing of things. It’s ~25 degrees, and so quite a change to get some Vitamin D.Anyway, this week I thought I’d share the concepts of a recurring conversation I had with friends over the festive break. Namely, the topic of speaking bluntly.

For the previous 12 months I worked solo, and before that always shared a physical space with teammates. This changed drastically when I started working with the Kubicle team: communicating via electronic means with my colleagues.

The biggest difference though has been the style of communication.

It’s very direct, and requires a level of emotion to be left at the door in order to not be affected by what, in other social contexts, would be considered as harsh or rude.

Getting over the weirdness of the words sounding accusatory, it then becomes (I’ve found) a lot more liberating to speak in a way which gets to the root of an issue quickly.

Such as below…

In any case, if you’re interested in reading a bit more on “radical candor”, this article is the best I’ve read.

 

This post originally featured on the weekly newsletter, click here to subscribe.

 

A week in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

At the beginning of November I spent a week in the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa.

As covered in the previous post, I was there connecting with businesses about training their teams to be effective and efficient in data analytics, and between meetings was able to get a decent impression of the city.

This post covers the key aspects that became apparent when I came to jotting down thoughts on the trip.

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Update on what I’m working on

Since touching down back in Kenya in late August there have been some developments on the work front.

After a year or so of doing freelance consulting, and nurturing different business ideas it got to the stage where I fancied shaking things up and actually cracking on with some of the opportunities I’d been telling everyone that I was seeing.

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Silicon Savannah Talk (listen to it here)

As you might have seen, I have a bit of thing about business in East Africa.

Since deciding to relocate to the region last year in order to set up a business I’ve found myself learning as much about the region as possible, and taken enjoyment in distilling the many complex moving parts into a narrative which I can comprehend and communicate.

On a recent trip back to London, I looked at how I could share this with others.

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Moving to Africa: one year on

Today I’m flying back to the UK for a month to catch up with friends, family and some clients I’ve been working with.

The date on the plane ticket is a year to the day from when I took a flight in the opposite direction and touched down in East Africa for the first time and so it therefore feels like an apt time to reflect on the last 12 months, and take stock of what’s been going on.

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What Technology Wants (…in Rural Kenya)

I’ve spent the last few days living in a village in Western Kenya.

It’s been an excellent experience that’s not only opened up what’s happening in another part of the country, but also reminded me of some concepts I’ve been reading about recently.

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Commodity? Brand? Cheapo? Fancy?

This is a post about how products are priced in Kenya, and some of the thoughts around how we categorise things in such a way that it becomes normal behaviour to save $1 on one product, but pay $10 extra on another.
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