Running a legitimate technology enterprise in Kenya is not an easy task. So many things in the day to day that eat into valuable time that could be spent acquiring customers and refining products in an attempt to stem off global competition and avoid being committed to the dead pool, subscribing to those frighteningly real business survival statistics. Technology entrepreneurs have sought solace in a community that has over the last five years grown to global recognition moving from the experimental hacks to real businesses that are drawing investor interest as they identify new niches or disrupt old guards.
As any community grows and value is created, a wide cross-section of players will be attracted by the opportunity and not everyone has good intentions.
Disconnected Nervous System
Members of the community are seemingly averse to showing weakness, a characteristic that becomes visible in the outlier cases where a startup founder, team, investor or hub has had a nasty run-in and word inadvertently gets out. This numbing of the collective should worry us as an immediate and system wide alert of any occurrences that may impact both positively and negatively is expected.
We have seen different shades of people; more to culture, principles and ethics than color, come into contact with the community. The expectation is that we should, over time learn to quickly profile and re-profile those who wish to be part of the community as well as those in it, looking for the tell-tale red flags that would trigger necessary interventions. As we continue to evolve, our gut must increase in sensitivity to ensure that we are never caught off guard whether by vulture capital, self-interested mentors, rogue talent or even a misinformed government.
The onus is on the community to create systems and processes that will expose those with ill motives or questionable ways of work and we must not shy away from exposing and purging from our midst those who go contrary to decency and common sense. There are no sacred cows either; veteran or newbie, funded or bootstrapped, deep pocket venture capitalist or angel, we must be looked at from the same lens.
We are all, hopefully chasing the same positive outcomes for the community and our independent organizations but integrity, trust and transparency must be at the center of our interactions, lest some rot that is left to fester kills it for everyone.