Kenya's business sentiment has risen - what does this entail?
The Standard Chartered MNI Business Sentiment Indicator (BSI) shows that business sentiment for Kenya rose significantly in September – from 63.7 to 58.7. What does this mean for Kenya? How were these statistics produced? We break down Standard Chartered’s report to bring you the key facts.
Overall business conditions improved
Kenyan firms reported a pick-up in business activity with the Overall Business Conditions indicator rising 15.9 percent in September to 76, its highest level since December 2014.
Surge in demand, production and employment
3 of the 5 components that make up the headline indicator posted gains. Businesses reported a strong surge in demand as new orders rose by 16.7 percent month on month to a 2016 high of 76. Production and employment indicators also increased. Together, these three indicators contribute 75 percent of the headline BSI print.
Inventory levels fell
Inventory levels of Kenyan businesses reached a series low in September, falling 39.4 percent from August. New orders are likely to remain strong in Q4-2016 as the festive season approaches. With inventory levels falling, companies have begun to increase output and intend to expand productive capacity in the next quarter.
Possible increase in inflationary pressures
The Kenyan BSI hints at increased inflationary pressures. Companies surveyed reported paying higher prices for inputs in September as compared to August as the input prices component reached its highest level since October 2015. This likely reflects the lagged impact of successive fuel price hikes in July and August. The prices received component, an indicator of the ability of businesses to pass on higher prices to customers, also increased.
Business loan rates may fall
Kenyan firms still expect the rates they pay on their loans to fall given the implementation of legislation to cap interest rates in mid-September. Future expectations for the interest rates paid component fell to a series low in September.
Despite the expectation of higher inflation, Standard Chartered project a further 50bps policy rate cut by the Central Bank of Kenya at its November policy meeting. In anticipation of loan rate limits, which took effect in September, private-sector credit growth had already slowed meaningfully to single digits.
Standard Chartered-MNI Kenya Business Sentiment Indicator
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.