For many years I have been an independent entrepreneur in
Those who even casually study the world of business will tell you that building up a business to sizeable proportions takes time, quite often years. This is in sharp contrast to corruption where it is easy to make crazy amounts of cash overnight.
The sad result of all this is that Kenyans look down on honest entrepreneurs trying to make it the hard way and glorify corrupt overnight millionaires. That is why if you tell anybody that you are in business, the next question they will ask you is what business you are in. If you mention anything that links you to “Jua Kali” or a struggling start up, they will quickly lose respect. So the big question here, is how do we encourage Kenyans to go into business which is much more beneficial to the economy on the long term, when everybody knows that the way to make money is the crooked corrupt way. How many generations of Kenyans will it take for us to correct this perception that corruption pays?
I have myself witnessed numerous corrupt deals where people have used their position in government and even private companies to make a lot of money overnight. This includes the games people play with quotations. You see it is mandatory that for anything to be supplied to government, purchasing officers have to get 3 quotations for it. So what is done is to have 3 different business names handy complete with company rubber stamps. You then supply all three quotes but make sure that they are all very high. So whichever company wins the tender, you win because you control all three. And what is more you get to make a windfall in profits.
If the boss insists that he wants a certain company to supply because of their quality and reputation, all is not lost. The government official approaches the said company and tells them that he is in a position to help them win a lucrative government tender and asks them if they can “do the needful.” There are cases where cash is even paid upfront.
This kind of system can prove to be deadly. There is a famous case in the 1990s where a businessman called Kimani Kongo supplied chalk to the Nairobi City Council purporting it to be chlorine. Chlorine is usually used to treat water and although many wise Kenyans do not drink tap water directly from taps without treating it, there are numerous other poverty stricken ones who do not have an option. How many of them fell sick after city water was treated with chalk or not at all? How many ended up dead because they got sick and could not afford proper medical attention? Incidentally this gentleman stood in the last general elections for a parliamentary seat in Dagoretti constituency.
I will end this post and this series with a scene that I am sure has been played and re-played over and over again right across the country.
It is Christmas and two sons arrive with their families at their upcountry rural home. One comes by matatu and arrives tired and dusty heavily laden with luggage. The other son arrives in his big four-wheel drive car. Now which son are the parents more pleased to see? Which son are the parents more proud of? Naturally the four wheel drive car was purchased with corruption cash. But who wants to know? So what do you think will happen if somebody one day approaches the matatu-traveling son with a corrupt deal? Or even lures them into crime?
How can we ever hope to end corruption when Kenyans will not respect people for what they are but will instead only look at them for what they have?
Read my earlier article on corruption in high places that tells a simple story to illustrate the little talked-about impact that corruption has on ordinary Kenyans.
Get 5000 people to see your product or service, you DON’T need a website and its’ ALL FREE
…And after that get 1,000,000 more hits for FREE