• In business, the customer is king. The customer decides when to open their wallets, how often to do it and if to refer friends to come over and do the same.
• Business entities of whichever level of operation must always understand that it is up to them to make their services attractive to their customers.
The recent uproar from Trade and Investments CS Moses Kuria on China Square along Thika Road reminds me of the past decade's war between yellow line cabs and the app hailing taxis.
To take you back a little, when Uber entered Kenya, there were many hues and cries from the traditional yellow-line cab drivers that their jobs were being taken away. The fight against this disruption in the taxi industry escalated into a gruesome and brutal war that claimed quite some souls.
Fast forward to the present, the same investors in yellow cabs fully embraced the online taxi-hailing model, granted we still have a niche for yellow line cabs that are thriving in their ecosystem. This lesson was learned the hard way, and we all need to borrow from it when attempting to reenact the same in whichever other business sphere.
In business, the customer is king. The customer decides when to open their wallets, how often to do it and if to refer friends to come over and do the same. Business entities of whichever level of operation must always understand that it is up to them to make their services attractive to their customers.
Customers are retained through offering reasonable prices, quality goods, quality customer relations and good old reliability in terms of supply, to name but four. There is no contract binding your customer to your services and barring them from seeking alternatives that appease their tastes and state of pockets at any time.
The rough approach by the government to try and implement protectionism is misinformed and very unfortunate. It is a populist approach that appeases the local traders while oblivious to the plight of millions of ordinary citizens who seem to be barely squeezing the last few coins to make a living.
No economy in the first world doesn't boast of a Chinatown somewhere. From the US to Moscow, we have a beautiful mix of nationalities, all getting their legit space to trade, live and indulge in their cultural activities from which we can learn, enjoy, share and possibly adopt where applicable.
Besides, so many nationalities are trading in this country and doing excellent business, while employing thousands of Kenyans directly and indirectly. It may help us as a country to rise above the populism fray and embrace the 21st Century evolutions sweeping across the world. The Chinese and other nationals are welcome in Kenya; they are here to stay, live, trade, get spouses and settle if they wish while abiding by all legal requirements.
Government pronouncements should go beyond tunnel vision and as Kenyans, we should be able to see the bigger global picture. We sell our tea leaves and coffee to China, among other trading relations. Thousands of our brothers and sisters depend on Guangzhou city for business supplies. Some opted to settle in the city and become wholesale suppliers to many business customers worldwide.
The consortium of Kamukunji, Gikomba, and Nyamakima business owners should rise to the occasion and learn from the China City model. They should embrace the practices that make China city sell an artifact for half the consortium price while making a profit.
The masses have voted with their pockets, the disruption is a reality, and some political gerrymandering may delay it, but it can never be stopped. It is just a matter of time before we have clones of China City popping up all over the country.
Dear Kamukunji, Gikomba, and Nyamakima business owners rise and smell the coffee: The time for riding on political protectionism is up, adapt, change and grow or slowly sink into oblivion.
Kanyi Gioko (PhD) is a career educationist, researcher, digital content, and curriculum developer and comments on topical issues