May 19, 2020

Harnessing the Kenyan entrepreneurial spirit

Business
Nairobi
enterprising
information system solutions
Bizclik Editor
4 min
Harnessing the Kenyan entrepreneurial spirit

 

Who are you and what is your background?

My name is Kyai Ivuso Mullei (35) and I am based in Nairobi, Kenya. I a gained a  BA degree in  Economics from Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, USA in 2000 and followed it with an MBA/ MS Computer Information Systems, Georgia State Unversity, Atlanta, GA, USA, in 2006.

What is your business and where does it operate from?

My business is called InfoSystem Solutions Limited and it has its headquarters in Nairobi and is registered in Nairobi and Delaware Corp, USA.

What are its products/ services?

InfoSystem Solutions is an information solutions provider dedicated to helping small and growing businesses. Since 2006, we have served our clients with customised solutions to enhance their information systems infrastructure and online image. The company’s services include: web hosting design & development; custom software development; site maintenance & content management; data encryption & storage; development of strategic IS / IT resources and business process reengineering.

How did you get started?

I founded the business in 2006 after identifying a niche for information system solutions for small business in Kenya. At that time, there was a gap in the market with information systems providers focusing on large clients only. Internet services and demand for online service from small businesses was just beginning to grow at the time as connectivity prices fell.

Did you have any help such as financial/general business advice?

My MBA programme gave me the necessary tools to conceive and start a business entity. There were no upfront costs in setting up the business apart from registration. There were no initial investors

How many people were employed when you started and how many are there now?

Only one person was employed at the onset and that was me, the founder. However, currently the business is based on a contracting module on a pay per demand basis; consequently up to eight developers have been hired for particularly large projects. For normal size project I have employed between two and three developers.

Can you give details of the company’s success in terms of profit/turnover/assets?

In 2011, InfoSystem Solutions recorded a turnover of Kenyan Shillings (KES) 5.5 mm, a profit of KES 300,000, and assets of KES 1.5mm.

Why did you want to set up your own business?

I decided that I wanted to be self-employed and I felt I had the skills necessary to do so. I also wanted to make an impact in any way I could to help developing Kenya. It takes everyone, entrepreneurs, teachers, doctors, policemen, to collectively advance society, I wanted to do my part and the rewards of providing gainful employment to a poor nation with high unemployment was a goal of mine. I also realised while Kenyans have a strong entrepreneurial spirit, there was an acute shortage of entrepreneurs in the country willing to take the risks of setting up their own “official” business entities.

What sort of attributes do you think are necessary to be successful in business?

Patience and perseverance are the top two in my book. Great businesses are not built overnight as it can take years for a business to gain traction and become profitable. Businesses also start small; it’s natural for a business to start as in idea and have the owner as the only employee. The will to take risks is important, unlike employment, businesses income is not guaranteed on a month to month basis, and therefore as a business owner, the ability to withstand fluctuating income is necessary.

What drives you to succeed?

Making a difference and making an impact are my main motivators. Creating something which was not there before and from which society can benefit from. I am a true believer in the old saying “everyone must do their part.”

What advice would you give to a youngster wanting to set up their own business today?

While it is not entirely implausible, anyone starting a business should not plan on it being an overnight success. Great businesses are built over time.

Is it harder or easier to set up in business when you are young?

I would think easier, younger people generally do not have the responsibilities of a family to support. It is easier to take risks and deal with any set-backs when you have no dependents. However, these risks usually have great reward.

What sort of help would you like to have been able to access when you started out that wasn’t available to you?

I would like to have seen more networking services that would bring together like-minded entrepreneurs to exchange ideas. These were not available when I started my business, although they are now in both the public and private sector.

What are your goals/aims for your business?

I want my company to continue to be a solution for small and medium sized enterprises seeking customised software solutions to drive their businesses forward.

Where would you like your business to be in 10 years’ time?

In ten years time, I envisage my business will have a presence in all countries in East Africa, through partnerships or directly, providing solutions for the 130-million strong market that is currently growing by six percent a year.

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May 28, 2021

Automation of repetitive tasks leads to higher value work

Automation
UiPath
technology
repetitivetasks
Kate Birch
4 min
As a new report reveals most office workers are crushed by repetitive tasks, we talk the value of automation with UiPath’s MD of Northern Europe, Gavin Mee

Two-thirds of global office workers feel they are constantly doing the same tasks over and over again. That’s according to a new study (2021 Office Worker Survey) from automation software company UiPath.

Whether emailing, inputting data, or scheduling calls and meetings, the majority of those surveyed said they waste on average four and a half hours a week on time-consuming tasks that they think could be automated.

Not only is the undertaking of such repetitious and mundane tasks a waste of time for employees, and therefore for businesses, but it can also have a negative impact on employees’ motivation and productivity. And the research backs this up with more than half (58%) of those surveyed saying that undertaking such repetitive tasks doesn’t allow them to be as creative as they’d like to be.

When repetitive, unrewarding tasks are handled by people, it takes time and this can cause delays and reduce both employee and customer satisfaction,” Gavin Mee, Managing Director of UiPath Northern Europe tells Business Chief. “Repetitive tasks can also be tedious, which often leads to stress and an increased likelihood to leave a job.”

And these tasks exist at all levels within an organisation, right up to executive level, where there are “small daily tasks that can be automated, such as scheduling, logging onto systems and creating reports”, adds Mee.

Automation can free employees to focus on higher value work

By automating some or all of these repetitive tasks, employees at whatever level of the organisation are freed up to focus on meaningful work that is creative, collaborative and strategic, something that will not only help them feel more engaged, but also benefit the organisation.

“Automation can free people to do more engaging, rewarding and higher value work,” says Mee, highlighting that 68% of global workers believe automation will make them more productive and 60% of executives agree that automation will enable people to focus on more strategic work. “Importantly, 57% of executives also say that automation increases employee engagement, all important factors to achieving business objectives.”

These aren’t the only benefits, however. One of the problems with employees doing some of these repetitive tasks manually is that “people are fallible and make mistakes”, says Mee, whereas automation boosts accuracy and reduces manual errors by 57%, according to Forrester Research. Compliance is also improved, according to 92% of global organisations.

Repetitive tasks that can be automated

Any repetitive process can be automated, Mee explains, from paying invoices to dealing with enquiries, or authorising documents and managing insurance claims. “The process will vary from business to business, but office workers have identified and created software robots to assist with thousands of common tasks they want automated.”

These include inputting data or creating data sets, a time-consuming task that 59% of those surveyed globally said was the task they would most like to automate, with scheduling of calls and meetings (57%) and sending template or reminder emails (60%) also top of the automation list. Far fewer believed, however, that tasks such as liaising with their team or customers could be automated, illustrating the higher value of such tasks.

“By employing software robots to undertake such tasks, they can be handled much more quickly,” adds Mee pointing to OTP Bank Romania, which during the pandemic used an automation to process requests to postpone bank loan instalments. “This reduced the processing time of a single request from 10 minutes to 20 seconds, allowing the bank to cope with a 125% increase in the number of calls received by call centre agents.”

Mee says: “Automation accelerates digital transformation, according to 63% of global executives. It also drives major cost savings and improves business metrics, and because software robots can ramp-up quickly to meet spikes in demand, it improves resilience.

Five business areas that can be automated

Mee outlines five business areas where automation can really make a difference.

  1. Contact centres Whether a customer seeks help online, in-store or with an agent, the entire customer service journey can be automated – from initial interaction to reaching a satisfying outcome
  2. Finance and accounting Automation enables firms to manage tasks such as invoice processing, ensuring accuracy and preventing mistakes
  3. Human resources Automations can be used across the HR team to manage things like payroll, assessing job candidates, and on-boarding
  4. IT IT teams are often swamped in daily activity like on-boarding or off-boarding employees. Deploying virtual machines, provisioning, configuring, and maintaining infrastructure. These tasks are ideal for automation
  5. Legal There are many important administrative tasks undertaken by legal teams that can be automated. Often, legal professionals are creating their own robots to help them manage this work. In legal and compliance processes, that means attorneys and paralegals can respond more quickly to increasing demands from clients and internal stakeholders. Robots don’t store data, and the data they use is encrypted in transit and at rest, which improves risk profiling and compliance.

“To embark on an automation journey, organisations need to create a Centre of Excellence in which technical expertise is fostered,” explains Mee. “This group of experts can begin automating processes quickly to show return on investment and gain buy-in. This effort leads to greater interest from within the organisation, which often kick-starts a strategic focus on embedding automation.”

 

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