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US based consulting company has a job opening in Kenya: Alliance & Partnership Specialist

Posted by Administrator on February 29, 2012

SSG Advisors (an international consulting firm based in Burlington, Vermont, USA) has an opening for a Kenya-based Alliance & Partnership Specialist with experience in engaging local, regional, and or international private sector businesses and companies in brokering and building public-private alliances with social development objectives.

The specialist will play a leading role in designing, brokering, and building public-private alliances with leading regional and multi-national companies in support of major objectives related to food security and technological innovation. Please note: only Kenyan citizens are eligible for the position.


The position is expected to begin in March 2012. The responsibilities of the Alliance & Partnership Specialist include but are not limited to:

  • Working with a US-based Alliance      Advisor, develops strategic partnerships and alliances with private and      public sector actors and other implementers to achieve project objectives;
  • Serves as principal project liaison      with private sector partners and stakeholders;
  • Assists project stakeholders in      developing public-private partnerships and alliances;
  • Organizes meetings with local and      international business representatives;
  • Coordinates conversations,      roundtables, and activities across a number of industry groups, business      sectors, and organizations.
  • Provides thought leadership in      support of alliances, including the development of new alliance      modalities;
  • Provides timely and accurate reporting      to SSG, implementing partners, and USAID on all partnership project areas;
  • Maintains records and data bases of business prospects and      contacts;


  • Demonstrated experience in      understanding, brokering, and/or overseeing the development of public-private      alliances and partnerships;
  • Experience with Kenyan and      international business and corporate social responsibility;
  • Solid network of local and/or      international business contacts;
  • Excellent understanding of the local      business context;
  • Ability to communicate effectively      and establish and maintain effective working relationships with the      private sector, citizen groups, and other key project stakeholders.
  • Experience delivering responsive and      timely support to demanding clients;
  • Familiarity and experience with the      USAID/GDA business model desirable;
  • Bachelors Degree in relevant field; Business degree a plus;
  • Proficiency with MS Office Suite;
  • Ability to work flexible hours      including occasional evenings;
  • Comprehensive English and Swahili      language skills;

Interested candidates should send a CV and cover letter to jobs@ssg-advisors.com with “Kenya Alliance & Partnership Specialist” in the subject line by March 5th, 2012. Please note: only citizens of Kenya are eligible for consideration. Only finalists will be contacted for interviews. No phone calls please.

Company Profile: SSG Advisors is an international consulting firm based in Burlington, Vermont, USA, that works with a variety of government and commercial clients on market-driven sustainable development solutions around the world. Since 2005, we have completed assignments in nearly 40 countries in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America. SSG is currently preparing for a new program in Kenya that will focus on food security and innovation with the private sector.

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Nakumatt is among the world’s 50 fastest growing family businesses

Posted by Administrator on November 24, 2011

At the time of writing, traders’ screens around the world are turning a nasty shade of red. Stock markets are plummeting everywhere and there is much talk of developed economies slipping back into recession.

You would be forgiven for wondering if it might be a good time to retreat to a cave with a weapon and a crate of tinned food. But away from the trading floors, there is another story about the world economy – one that moves more slowly and involves fewer people panicking, and so gets less attention.

CampdenFB’s list, supported by Ernst & Young, of the fastest growing 50 family businesses, shows a sector flourishing. The top spot is occupied by Argentina’s IMPSA, a manufacturer of renewable energy technology, whose revenues increased 115% between 2008 and 2010. A Brazilian company takes second place followed by – amazingly, given the state of the UK economy – a British construction company, Willmott Dixon.

It’s a global story and in a troubled world, families are doing it for themselves. And it’s working pretty well. To rank the companies, CampdenFB looked at revenue growth in local currency during the three-year period from 2008 until the end of 2010. The methodology is given below.

Source: http://campdenfb.com/article/worlds-50-fastest-growing-family-businesses

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Sacking made me a millionaire

Posted by Administrator on June 30, 2011

Photo/GEOFFREY RONO Farmer Sammy Tanui at his poultry shed feeding his 300 layers and collecting eggs.

Photo/GEOFFREY RONO Farmer Sammy Tanui at his poultry shed feeding his 300 layers and collecting eggs.

When he was dismissed as a driver with a book-publishing firm nine years ago, 49-year-old Sammy Tanui thought his life had come to an end.

To make matters worse, the sacking came hot on the heels of a three-month unpaid leave which he had asked for to attend to a domestic problem.

“After the initial shock, I collected myself and with the Sh200,000 that I had saved, I put a down payment for a Toyota pick-up and ventured into the dairy business,” says the father-of-three.

The business involved buying milk from farmers in Bomet and selling it to milk bars and hotels in Narok town and its environs.

The business, he says, paid well and enabled him to clear the outstanding balance for the vehicle, which he had bought on credit.

“To maximise profits, I opened a milk bar and restaurant called Carsam in Bomet town,” says the businessman, adding that his wife Caroline runs the venture.

The milk business lasted two years before his licence was cancelled by the Dairy Board of Kenya on claims that he had not paid cess amounting to Sh67,000.

Even though he won the subsequent court case, he did not go back to the business. “When one door closes, God opens another. Owing to links I had made when supplying milk to hotels, I ventured into the charcoal business,” says the born-again Christian, adding that the business earns him an average of Sh40,000 in profit a month, much more than he earned as a driver.

In 2008, he tried his hand at poultry farming, an avenue which he says now brings him good returns. “The 300 layers give me an average of 270 eggs a day, which translates to Sh2,000 daily or Sh75,000 a month,” says Mr Tanui.

Demand for eggs in the growing town and neighbouring urban centres has been overwhelming, prompting the trader to order for an additional 300 layers from Kenchic.

So what are the challenges?

“Poultry feeds are expensive and not within the reach of many farmers. For instance, a 70kg bag of layers’ marsh currently goes for Sh2,600, up from the previous price of Sh840,” says Mr Tanui.

The trader-cum-farmer has also taken advantage of greenhouse technology to grow tomatoes. He now has more than 1,200 plants in his facility.

He spent Sh150,000 to construct his greenhouse and buy seeds and now earns more than Sh40,000 a month from the sale of tomatoes. His ventures bring in almost Sh200,000 a month.

Mr Tanui asks officials from the ministries of Agriculture and Livestock Development to visit farmers in order to help them acquire skills to improve their income.

Bomet district agricultural officer Josphat Kioko praised the farmer for maximising production on his small piece of land and asked other farmers to follow his example and take advantage of new technology.

Source: http://www.nation.co.ke/Features/money/Sacking+made+me+a+millionaire+/-/435440/1191424/-/6b9uioz/-/index.html

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Interviews for dream jobs are not for the faint-hearted

Posted by Administrator on May 22, 2011

A job interview can be a stressful experience, but it is always easier if you’re prepared and know you have what it takes. File

A job interview can be a stressful experience, but it is always easier if you’re prepared and know you have what it takes. File

Interviewing candidates for a role is an exhausting, tedious and sometimes comedic experience. My research has produced some of the top five most unusual experiences by Human Resource practitioners at interviews.

Number 5: the candidate announced she had not had lunch and proceeded to eat a hamburger and chips in the interview room. Number 4: the candidate said her long-term goal was to replace the interviewer. Number 3: a balding candidate excused himself and returned to the office a few minutes later wearing a toupee (small wig). Number 2: the candidate interrupted interview to phone her therapist for advice on how to answer specific interview questions. And the number 1 most unusual experience was when the candidate dozed off during the interview!

Watching the recently concluded process of identifying the successful candidates for the Chief Justice and Deputy Chief Justice roles was both exhilarating and illuminating not only for curious Kenyans but also for future job seekers of public or private office. Exhilarating because for the first time in Kenya’s history, its entire citizenry was given a front row seat to observe the rigorous process of determining the suitability of candidates for the Judiciary’s highest offices. Illuminating because the interviewing exercise demonstrated the kind of experience, work history and tangible evidence of personal impact that candidates are expected to illustrate before they can be considered for high office.

But first let me begin by congratulating ALL the candidates who placed themselves in the cross hairs of the interviewing panel.  It takes an inordinate amount of maturity, strength of character and profound aplomb to sit in front of several panellists, numerous cameras and the innumerable hangers on in the background and be grilled about your past, present and undefined future. It also requires an almost herculean effort to zone out the fact that thousands of Kenyans are watching you as you reach out with limp and sweaty hands to sip a glass of water and slake your thirst as you compose your thoughts and cool off your body boiling over with the smouldering heat from an intense torpedo of questions. I salute you all.

Many of us would have caved in from far less scrutiny, collapsing into an ignominious heap of misery, tearing our clothes and retreating into our lairs to lick our festering wounds.

Truth be told, the interviews for the Chief Justice revealed a number of lessons for any one wishing to apply for a job whether in public or private office. Firstly, always be prepared for the worst and hope for the best. That the interview panel had before it previous judgments made by the candidates as well as snippets of public opinion and perception of the candidates’ behaviour, was evidence that your past will always come back to haunt you. Hence the lesson learnt is what you do today will always impact what you will be able to do tomorrow.

As you scream at your subordinates, fail to respond to work related requests or trample on genuine work grievances be afraid, be very afraid. Secondly, do not assume that years on the job are the determinant of job suitability. Many discerning interview panels today have come to the apt realisation that a number of professionals have been promoted to their level of incompetency and the role of that panel is to put a screeching halt to the unmerited runaway train of an upward career trajectory. You know the kind of professionals I am talking about who kowtow to the whimsical needs of the powers-that-be only to be rewarded with promotion after promotion based on their brilliant brown-nosing capabilities rather than professional achievements.

When there is a shifting of sands and change of guard at the top, such individuals will eventually meet their career Waterloo. They need to be afraid, be very afraid. Thirdly, always read the body language of the interview panellists. If your panellists are leaning forward or sitting upright in their seats as you are answering your questions then it is very likely that you have captured their attention and they are keenly listening to your responses.

If the panellists are incessantly shuffling papers before them, gazing at a fixed spot on the wall behind you or, God forbid, texting on their phones while your interview is going on then two words should come to mind: TRAIN SMASH. It’s over you have lost the panellists’ attention.

Time slot

You might as well start chatting about Manchester United’s 19th English Premier League title win and hope to get a raised eyebrow or some other sign that some one is listening to your inane dribbling. Chances are you might find a Chelsea fan amongst the panellists who will still be bristling at the thought of the title loss and he will fire back a barb, waking himself up in the process.

Finally, take note of which time slot you have been given for your interview. A morning interview is easier as the panellists are, or should be, freshly rested. If you get the slot after lunch, you had better have the effusive charm of Barack Obama, the wicked wit of Winston Churchill as well as the dual but interchangeable oratory and dancing skills of Dr Bonny Khalwale.

All those attributes combined will dazzle your panelists who, having eaten a lunch replete with slow release carbohydrates are typically wont to doze off as blood flow is redirected to the stomach to facilitate digestion, starving the brain in the process and resulting in the comatose look that often afflicts afternoon interviewers.

But then again, my research above has shown that as others have done, you as the candidate can doze off in the interview too. Seriously though, the Chief Justice interview process should cause us to pause and consider whether we really have what it takes to apply for a job or whether we have been belabouring under self inflated illusions of capability and grandeur. As we apply for jobs perhaps we need to be afraid, very afraid.

Carol.musyoka@gmail.com Twitter:@carolmusyoka

Source: http://www.businessdailyafrica.com/Opinion+++Analysis/-/539548/1167370/-/a0l452/-/index.html

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Safaricom makes texting cheaper

Posted by Administrator on January 7, 2011

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 7- Safaricom has announced a 71 percent reduction in text message charges intensifying competition in the telecommunication sector.

In an advertisement, the firm said its customers will now pay Sh1 for each SMS sent to subscribers on the Safaricom network instead of the previous Sh3.50 charge.

Text messages to other local networks will be charged at Sh2 each down from Sh5, in what the firm said is a permanent tariff that applies to both Prepay and Postpay subscribers.

“The launch of this proposition takes into consideration our over 17 million subscribers, across the whole country, all having a variety of needs that must be addressed, and where possible, in uniformity,” said Chief Executive Officer Bob Collymore

Kenyans have been enjoying cheaper calling and messaging rates since August last year when the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) issued guidelines that slashed the interconnection rates by 50 percent to Sh2.21.

While issuing the new regulations, CCK Director General Charles Njoroge directed the operators to re-negotiate lower termination rates for SMS’s. They were expected to file the new charges with regulator within three months.

The commission imposed price caps on mobile and fixed termination services which are to be implemented on a declining grind path within the next three years. The termination rate will further decline by 35 percent this year and then progressively drop by 25 percent and 15 percent annually in 2012 and 2013 respectively.

 This means that subscribers can expect to see these rates come down further in line with what CCK calls the ‘efficient cost levels’.

The regulator expects the implementation of these rules to result in market efficiency and spur further growth in the industry, which has outperformed all the other sectors in the last decade.

The last five years have experienced an exponential growth in the mobile penetration estimated to close at 21 million by the end of 2010. This has in turn brought millions of Kenyans who were financially excluded into the formal sector.

A report released by the World Bank in December 2009 showed that without the tremendous growth of ICT, Kenya’s economy would only have expanded by 2.8 percent since the 2000.

Source: http://www.capitalfm.co.ke/business/Kenyabusiness/Safaricom-makes-texting-cheaper-5218.html

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Youth changing the workplace

Posted by Administrator on July 28, 2010

They are tech-savvy, ambitious and easily bored and they are presenting new challenges to managers in many companies.

These youths born in early 1980s, and labelled Generation Y, did not experience major political happenings like the 1982 coup or the fight for multi-party democracy in the 1990s. They were too young to comprehend.

They are in their 20s but have arrived at the work place with fresh demands that have set the human resource managers cracking their brains.

According to a research report released on Wednesday by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the employers will have to devise new incentives to tap, retain and improve their productivity.

Some want flexible working hours, others want formal dressing code relaxed and about 23 per cent will want to change their employer in one year or less.

The report known as ‘Getting to Know Generation Y’ is intended to help companies understand this new stock of employees who are less inclined to formal straight-jacket workplace practices, mostly adopted from the colonial master.

The survey involved 1,270 respondents drawn from 36 organisations. It said 32 per cent wanted access to professional and social online networks like LinkedIn and Facebook.

Another 9 per cent wanted flexible dressing code at the place of work, 18 per cent more flexible working hours and 12 per cent gym membership.

The study was triggered by National HR survey of 2009. Human resource practitioners asked for it because generational differences had started affecting work performance in some of their companies.

“Attracting and retaining talent is becoming a business priority and is proving to be a challenge,” PWC country senior director, Mr Kuria Muchiru, said when they released the findings on Wednesday.

These challenges called for new management skills because the youths hate routine duty and like challenging tasks that are interesting.

“They say they will cope with routine work during interviews but after a short time they lose interest. They ask, ‘am a graduate what am I doing here?’” he said.

“We have huge, sometime outlandish expectations of life, the world and work place. Generation Y is absorbed in a world made possible through technology,” says Mr Charles Simba, a PWC manager.

Source: Daily Nation

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The man behind Kenya’s $650 million golf estate

Posted by Administrator on July 19, 2010

Thika Greens Limited is busy transforming a piece of farmland into a world-class real estate development. Dinfin Mulupi spoke to Charles Kibiru, chief executive officer of the company.

Charles Kibiru

Charles Kibiru

Five years ago Charles Kibiru marshalled 20 friends cum business associates and started a company targeting to raise Ksh.20 million (US$245,000) in one year. After six months Kibiru realised the group would never achieve the target, at least not at the slow pace it was moving.

Kibiru, together with four business associates, then formed another company named Dozen Ventures Limited. They brought eight more partners on board. This time the group was successful, they raised Ksh.12 million ($147,000) in three months. They also harnessed additional funds through personal loans and purchased a quarter-acre plot in Spring Valley, Nairobi at a cost of Ksh.26 million ($319,000).

In just one year’s time they had constructed four houses on the plot at a cost of Ksh.70 million ($858,000) which they later sold for Ksh.26 million ($319,000) each. Dozen Ventures made a profit from the deal but the members merely took their money and left. That was the death of Dozen Ventures.

Around that time the Othaya Farmers Cooperative Society advertised in local dailies that it was selling 1,135 acres of land in Thika (situated 40 kilometres from Nairobi). This marked the birth of Thika Greens Limited (TGL).

Despite being unsuccessful twice, Kibiru and the first four members who had initially formed Dozens Ventures started TGL with the hope of investing and reaping huge profits in the real estate sector.

“My vision was to create the first well-planned satellite town with proper infrastructure in place and in the end create a city out of the city. The construction of the Nairobi-Thika super highway was the confirmation that indeed this was the investment opportunity of a lifetime,” says Kibiru.

The company’s biggest challenge was to raise the more than Ksh.850 million ($10 million) to purchase the plot being sold by the Othaya Farmers Cooperative Society.

“Last year the five of us invited friends and business partners to the Jacaranda Hotel where we wooed them to invest at least Ksh.2 million ($24,500) each [for a share in the project]. We had nothing to offer them other than a receipt to prove they had made payment and the word of mouth that this would be the best investment they would ever make,” says Kibiru.

In less than two months TGL raised Ksh.450 million ($5.5 million) with individuals each owning a minimum shareholding of Ksh.4 million ($49,000) and a maximum of Ksh.24 million ($294,000).

An artist's impression of the luxury homes to be built on the Thika Greens Golf Estate

An artist's impression of the luxury homes to be built on the Thika Greens Golf Estate

“By October 2009 we had a secured a loan from a local bank and made full payment for the land. We bought an additional 571 acres bringing the total acreage of land in our possession to 1,706 acres,” says Kibiru.

With the land firmly in its possession TGL began phase one of its ambitious plan.

“We began the first phase by subdividing [the land into] 966 plots which were later sold to the public. At first the plots sold for Ksh.850,000 ($10,000) each [but within] three months’ time the [price] had risen to Ksh.1.2 million ($15,000). To date we only have 30 plots [of the first phase] that are unsold,” explains Kibiru.

TGL plans to put in place infrastructure such as roads, water and electricity, as well as a shopping centre and school to serve the home owners in the area.

In the second phase, which Kibiru says will be launched this month, TGL will construct a golf estate with 810 plots. TGL contracted a South African architecture firm, DDV Design, to design a private member’s clubhouse overlooking an 18-hole championship golf course.

The facility will also boast a five star hotel, a three star hotel, a shopping mall, a retirement village, a community centre and high-end apartments.

“The Chinese construction company, MCC4, which we have contracted to undertake the construction, will commence operations this month as we gear up to complete the project in two years’ time,” he says.

The third phase of the development will include the sale of 1,850 plots which will be slightly more affordable compared to those in the first two phases. This is because the property will not be linked to the golf course.

By the time the last stone is laid and all the proposed construction work has been completed, approximately Ksh.53 billion ($650 million) will have been spent. The entire development will have 4,000 housing units.

“Our vision is to replicate the project across Kenya by setting up more golf estates in Nakuru, Mombasa, Machakos and Kisumu. Where we can find land and the basic infrastructure we will put our money and invest to provide more housing units in Kenya hence reduce the housing shortage,” says Kibiru.

Source: http://www.howwemadeitinafrica.com/the-man-behind-kenyas-650-million-golf-estate/2595/

Posted in Kenya, Kenyan Businesses | 1 Comment »

Bethlehem has taste of Kenya

Posted by Administrator on May 17, 2010

Kenyan Restuarant

Kenyan Restuarant

Emily Nyindodo started catering Kenyan cuisine as a mere side gig years ago.

The popularity of her dishes such as African peanut soup and sukuma wiki (collared greens sauteed with tomatoes and onions and served with a cornmeal mash called ugali) had people suggesting she should have a restaurant. So in 2008 she opened Alando’s Kitchen in the the Quakertown Farmers Market.

The authentic dishes of Nyindodo’s heritage became her full-time job after she was laid off from IBM in 2009.

Nyindodo took her severance pay and cranked up her entrepreneurship a bit by opening Alando restaurant in the rear of the Wired Cafe at 520 Main St., Bethlehem.

Nyindodo, a Bethlehem resident, subleased the cafe’s space because she’s been eager to get a spot in Bethlehem’s restaurant-rich downtown.

”Who wouldn’t want to be on Main Street?” Nyindodo said. ”This is a good space.”

Alando is the name of Nyindodo’s grandmother, the person who inspired some of the restaurant’s recipes, which include lentil coconut soup, chicken masala wrap served with bajia, tilapia stew and ugali.

Nyindodo added that she eventually will move everything from Quakertown to Bethlehem.

Alando’s website: http://www.alandoskitchen.com

Now, let’s change gears a bit.

A new 24-hour child-care place has opened in Allentown.

The business is the brainchild of Fabian and Matilda Moriah, who were seeking a place for their son, Marshall, a year ago.

The couple said they wanted a place where the day care would work around their schedules as insurance agents, but they turned up a slim number of options.

Fed up, they decided to do it themselves by moving into a house on Allentown’s Fourth Street estates section, the strip lined with big houses that have old-fashioned appointments such as finely carved wood trim and jewel-studded stained-glass windows.

The Moriahs turned the lower level of their house at 136 N. 4th St. into Marshall & Friends Daycare LLC.

They said their goal is to mirror the child’s behavior at home, which includes setting the same nap time and watching the same cartoons and singing the same songs the child would at home.

Fabian Marshall has kept his job, but his wife is heading up the day care with the help of certified staff. The business takes care of children from infants to 12 years old. The hours are 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., but they offer the option of overnight care if necessary.

A website is not up yet, but the phone number is 484-350-3989


Posted in Kenyan Businesses | 4 Comments »

10 million roses ruined, 5K Kenya workers laid off

Posted by Administrator on April 19, 2010


NAIROBI, Kenya — Daniel Oyier has been eating only once a day since an ash-belching volcano more than 5,000 miles away caused him to be laid off from his $4-a-day job packing red roses and white lilies for export to Paris and Amsterdam.

Some 5,000 day laborers in Kenya who have been without work since the ash cloud from Iceland shut down air traffic across Europe, showing how one event can have drastic consequences in distant lands in today’s global economy.

“If this goes on for a week it will be really bad for us,” said Oyier, 23, who sat against a fence most of Monday near Nairobi’s international airport, hoping his employer would call him in. “I don’t know how I will make rent.”

Kenya has thrown away 10 million flowers — mostly roses — since the volcano eruption. Asparagus, broccoli and green beans meant for European dinner tables are being fed to Kenyan cattle because storage facilities are filled to capacity.

The horticulture industry is Kenya’s top foreign exchange earner, making $922 million last year. Kenya exports 1,000 tons a day of produce and flowers — including roses, carnations and lilies, said Philip Mbithi, chief executive of the Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya.

Mbithi warned of a cascading series of losses if the travel ban lasts much longer. Small-scale farmers who fund their operations through bank loans will begin defaulting on payments and won’t be able to get funding for next season if exports don’t resume, he said.

Some businesses in Europe will be increasingly affected by a lack of imports, but as long as the disruption is not too lengthy it shouldn’t be a major issue, according to analysis firm IHS Global Insight.

“The main problem concerns goods that are perishable. Imports of items such as exotic fruit and flowers are being affected and this could lead to a marked spike in prices for these goods,” IHS Global Insight said.

Mbithi said at least 10 million flowers have been thrown away because the local market could not absorb them. Kenyans mostly buy flowers during Valentine’s Day, Mbithi said. Even if farmers attempted to sell them domestically at throw-away prices many Kenyans would not buy them.

Farmers have been forced to find alternative routes to get their products to market — even at a loss. They flew 1,000 metric tons of flowers to Spain on Monday, from where it would be transported by road to Paris and Amsterdam.

“This cuts 60 percent off our profit margin. But it is better than nothing,” Mbithi said. “We have clients to keep and consumers to feed.”

Other flower-growing regions have seen sales fall because of the eruption.

“This has affected us 100 percent,” said Willem Verhoogt, managing director of Bergflora, a flower- exporting agency based in Cape Town, South Africa’s airport. “We haven’t been exporting for four days.”

Israeli flower growers suffered two days of disrupted deliveries, but most flowers were preserved in coolers, said Shira Kuperman, a spokeswoman for Agrexco, Israel’s biggest agricultural exporter. Deliveries were set to resume later Monday, to either Madrid or Athens, where trucks would take them to other points in Europe, she said.

Verhoogt said that the company was supposed to export 11,000 pounds (5,000 kilograms) of fresh cut flowers mainly to Europe, and to the U.S. via flights through Europe.

“All together, it could be between 10 to 15 tons that won’t go in the end,” he said. “We’ve advised farmers to not pick flowers anymore.”

Associated Press Writers Carley Petesch in Johannesburg and Karoun Demirjian in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

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Drum, True Love fold up as publisher exits Kenya

Posted by Administrator on March 22, 2010

South Africa’s Media 24 has ended its presence in Kenya’s competitive publishing industry following its closure of East Africa Magazines — the publisher of True Love, Drum and Move.

The firm on Monday attributed its exit to lower revenues and rising operational costs as it joined a growing list of magazines such as Eve, Economic Review, Adam and Cosmopolitan that have folded up in recent years.

“We are in the process of closing down the business. We have informed the staff about it. This means that the April editions of True Love, Drum and Move magazines will be the last to sell in Kenya” general manager Kobus Louwrens said on Monday.

The move, which comes barley months after the South African firm took full control of the publisher that it co-owned with Nation Media Group (NMG)—East Africa’s largest media house, has left 45 workers jobless, including 10 journalists.

Media24 previously held a 49 per cent stake in EAM, leaving NMG with a controlling 51 per cent, in a partnership founded in Nairobi in 2005 to publish the East African editions of True Love and Drum magazines.

But Kenya’s soft economy—that has depressed advertising and circulation revenues—coupled with the country’s low appetite for magazines has made it difficult for high-cost publishers to return a profit.

At the point of take-over in November, Mr Louwrens, said the move was targeted at establishing a strong presence in East Africa.

“We see a long term future for our investments in East Africa” said Mr Louwrens when he commented on the take-over that came just a fortnight after the publisher discontinued the publication of two titles— Adam, a men’s magazine and a travel and tour magazine, Twende, citing high cost of production and sluggish revenues

Mr Louwrens said South African media firm Naspers group, the owners of Media 24, pulled the plug on the East Africa Magazines division because of little return on investments.

“Naspers Group, through Media 24 has injected a significant amount of money for the running of the magazine titles under East African Magazines, but the returns were low and our projections were not favourable enough to warrant further injection of funds” he said.

This came as the Naspers, which is listed at Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), noted that its publishing division was facing challenges in the wake of the global economic meltdown.

“The operations in South Africa showed no top line growth due to weak advertising revenues, whilst operating profits before amortisation and other gains/losses were down 27 per cent,” said Nasper in a note to JSE in November 26 while announcing it half results.

Media 24’s takeover of EAM was viewed as largely driven by a development in which Jetsam—one of South Africa’s major distribution companies with roots in Botswana, Malawi, Swaziland and Zambia, took over the distribution of magazines published or imported by EAM.

Jetsam took over the EAM magazines distribution business from the Nation Media Group in what analysts say was the first signs that South Africa wanted a full control of the business.

The move to close East African Magazines adds to a lengthy roll of South African firms that have found it difficult to navigate the local business terrain, especially those that have preferred to ship in managers from South Africa to steer their local shops.

They include Supreme furniture, retail chain Cash and Carry and beverage giant SAB Miller.

-Business Daily Africa

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