the business card issue

Kenya, the land of adventurous wildlife safaris, endless beaches; the land of tea and coffee; the land of successful athletes; the land of different cultures and people…. and the land of business cards.
A country, where influential ppl are abooolll to pull of a deal that has some US$ 200 millions sidelined from public funds whereas fishermen in Western Kenya are forced to use mosquito nets to catch fish (!) is still the country I love the most. Don’t ask me why, I don’t know, it’s just a feeling inside – and it sure isn’t only due to myself being this Mzungu from Europe who has misty-eyes for the reality in Kenya.
The reality being that Kenya is a country with a HUGE potential, an assiduous group of well-educated young ppl that are ready to take over responsibility and make Kenya popular to an extent beyond to the already known “products” such as the tourism industry, gold medallists and cash crops. The reality where we see a lot of ppl dying from diseases that could be cured in other places of the World, hunger epidemics due to the lack of reliable crops, the lack of decent water supplies and proper sanitation despite of the fact that Kenya is surrounded by enough water reservoirs, the reality where we see an upcoming middle-class with desires to make proper use of a working infrastructure (communication networks, roads, water pipes, etc), the reality where we see this apparently huge gap between city ppl and their upcountry- shaggz – folks who are a bit behind the city attire, the Nairobi style, the sheng culture and the hip hop tunes emerging from Dandora’s Ghettos. The reality where we see a lot of young Kenyans taking up different chances outside the country (as M mentioned earlier) just for the simple fact that – contrary to Kenya – opportunities open up and in today’s world it is important to survive and to stick to any opportunity that opens up.
Globalization, be it Germany or Kenya, you have to be good in whatever you do (or better & faster than the competition), and where being good alone doesn’t change anything, you’ll need connections, a reliable network of business contacts, something or somebody that will help you get a decent job/deal/position/etc.
As much as I hate this constellation, and seeing that a lot of really qualified ppl don’t get their chances just because the job market doesn’t provide as many slots as there’s a need for, I will need to prepare for this challenge as well.

“Oh yes, you know me I have lunch with this and that person…I know him very well” – aterere…that’s not my style. I know a lot of ppl are like that and they’ll often use any chances to underline the important contacts they have. Who? You mean I just call them and they’ll type a letter of recommendation for me that will open up doors at this and that Ministry or important office? ….“Oh, you’re working for this NGO? Ati, from Germaaaan(y)? Haiiiaaa, I know this man from Europe – in fact there’s this mzungu I know, wait, what’s his name again? Muller? …oh, you know, we did some business with him some time ago. Yes, we good contacts with him”. etc. etc. etc. *yawn*
The bottom line is that there are a lot of informal networks, and those networks aren’t closed to any Lions or Rotary Club networks or limited to a membership for Windsor or Karen Golf & Country Club.
What you need in a country like Kenya (and a lot of other places around the world) are credentials, a good reputation, publicity or money – the later commonly reffered to as Bling Bling style.

As the alleged Armenian ndugus have already shown, the Bling Bling method is SO 1980s Kashoggi styled. Ati, no Kenyan buys that story and – frankly said – it just sucks. If you have money – and some ppl think you’re rich because you have this light coloured skin (*/wtf?!) – you keep it to yourself or at least try to hide from public. Showing off is just so new-rich, so horribly ungentleman-alike. Understatement is what we’re looking for.

Which brings us to method numba mbili, the business card approach.
I have this well known “friend” in Nairobi, a buddy a lot of ppl in Nbo know. He is this (muhindi) guy who used to have a female American friend speak on his answering machine to make it look like he could afford his own secretary. But beware, not just a secretary, but this mzungu one. You know, the foreigner bonus, which makes him a bit more “special”. In fact, he is the very same guy who bought an ETACS mobile phone back in 1995 which was of course offline because back in those days, the mobile phone network was limited to 2000 users only and all he needed was to have this phone on his belt so he could “look important”. As I said, he knew a lot of ppl and had perfected the small talk business.

Naturally, he had his OWN business card. Well, business? What for? The business of sweet talking? WHO CARES! He had already perfected the most important thing with business without any further theoretical studies: marketing. Or in his case: personal marketing. YES! A business card, my dear readers, a business card is that little piece of paper you’re handing out to the person you’re talking to, and in his case – of course – it wasn’t just a normal business card (bc). Whereas some companies maintain their boring logo and corporate identity even on the bcs their giving out to their employees, his card was GOLDEN. Yes, you read that right. A white bc with big golden letters, a fancy name and the V.I.P. look. Here comes Mr. Important….

So the point is that he knew how to sort of impress his ppl – and the next bc I saw when I met him again a few years later was much more serious because he had in fact opened up his own import biashara which required a more serious approach. However, still, the first thing I was given was his BC. Alafu: I’ll also need a business card.

Now, since I dropped my well-paid job(s) some years ago and went back to university where I am just an ordinary student of water and soil management, I of course have NO company or corporate identity to portray or show off on my business card. Hence the need for something special, something that will make me look unique and impress ppl. I thought of this:

kikuvisitenkarte.jpg

What do you think? ;-)

P.S.: yes, that’s a mobile fax gadgetimoja of course, what did you expect?!
P.P.S.: maybe I should rename my company from Kikuyumoja Inc. into “Gaaman Rrrreasing Ltd.” due to better marketing chances…

13 comments » Write a comment

  1. I definitely like the card.

    As an aside, I suspect that the “elephant on yellow background logo” thingy might belong/be trademarked by EABL/KBL in East Africa. Might be worth spending some time investigating this to avoid legal issues up the road.

    Great design though.

  2. First of, very nice,touching and nostalgic *sob,sob* write up.. I miss Kenya.
    I like Muhindi story, ati American accented chic on the voicemail , now that is brilliant thinking , hey more of the reason why DEll customer services is situated in some place in Delhi with a muhindi called Peter Jackson answering the phone:-) (ha! those wahindis, we used to refer them in another name but lets not go there :-),(ok in a nice way!)

    Nairobi you have to agree is a smaller version of New York = survival for the meanest + shrewdest.One has to wear mutiple personality to survive there and land that contract/job/networking friends as Mr. Bush likes calling it ” the base”:-)The BC is a good approach. That kikuyuM. BC card in a bling bling silver/gold card holder,some glossy brochure with photos of your company location somewhere in Frankfurt or Berlin, make sure the “welcome to Franfurt is visible somewhere on your so glossy brochure and a nice doctored billboard strategically placed in the major “Autobahn” on the brochure might do the trick as well. Voila! there you go!!!

    You will be in business in no time. Grand Regency will be your “Karumaindo” hang out joint , yes and a VIP lounge at JKIA will be at your disposal et cetera. Now when you do make it remember to keep dropping those names ..refer to your cousin Juergen Klinsman ha!ha! (Kenyans are very good at knowing these European Soccer players) and your mother’s cousin brother who plays for Bayern Munich who has been dying to do some investment in Kenya ,some exotic place in Malindi…Now you will be game my brother!!!
    Anyway, the BC card might do the trick and yeaham with Ntwiga, you might want to change the kiku logo (copyright infringement) maybe a rabbit will do = Mjanja kama sungura — Good luck in the endeavor :-)

  3. ROFL, ehhh :-)

    The logo (despite of course the fact that we’re talking of a fictious company here – not that I don’t have such plans but I would surely never call it KIKUYUmoja due to ppl not getting the difference // I thought of something like lengai.net but that’s another story :-): THE logo, yes, Ntwiga, you are absolutely right, this could result in difficult problems with EABLtd. On the other hand, though, I would be DELIGHTED if only ONCE the KBL/EABL could raise their attention to this bugging question on which I’ve already written to Honouraboool Watchman @ Daily Nation: WHO is responsiboool for this design? Who made the logo in the first place? Are there any rights attached to this logo? Because: ppl are using it for their own shirts and I know at least of an institution here in Germany that uses “this elephant in a circle” for their own logo. My plan was to put all this images on tusker.info / tusker.de – some are already there, others might follow soon.

    The bc layout is a template from MS Publisher 2003 :-)

    Irene, ati, me i have already booked the VIP top floor on GrrrrandRegencs – si you know piipol like me have discount status which is normal for platinum card holders. Let me check for that rela who’s an active golfer – rrrrumoua has it that he was seen swinging the club with someone called Stan but anyways, this jamaa who still ows me big works for Klinsmann so you know if we fail in world championship we can send him to train Harambee Stars. But siiiriasly, dear Ciru, first thing I’ll do kesho asubuhi is errecting this billboard where it say: “Decent men sought for marrying chronically overworked Kiuk Lads”. No prob, this is free of charge.

  4. ..fo shizzle my irenizzle, billboardazzle atakujazzle..

    I will “find” you a handsome MC with lots of Bling Bling. You know, these homies from music tv in their double Rs on 20″ rims & bunnies shaking their bubudiu. Hey, does that sound juicy enough for you? You know, they know how to treat ladzzzz, eh? + they’ll do the talking ;-)

    (Aca, I know this taraaaaab musician who could drop in in the mean time – also ok with you?)

  5. you pple are mad! great i came to know early enough. but just go ahead, some years to come and I ll tell pple I know this kijana from germany called JKE. And am sure i won’t even need a business card.

    what i wanted to comment is, that this fabulous article reminded me of a funny drunken guy sitting next to me while waiting for my flight from nrb to dubai. imagine, i got his business card he’s promoting famous conjestina. WOW! but I intend to think he might not be of any help coz I won’t join boxing.

    So, if any boxer needs promotion? I am the one with the right business card, the guy is called atomic bunde (www.timebombpro.com)

    Ha, i feel great and important, did I say that I feel great and important already???

  6. Jke: For shizzle ma ..oops can’t call you that.. Wewe Tarab that = suicide slowly, Me want Bling bling with ma bling bling man from da hood who I can shizzle for and shake my bubudiu for ..
    @Mwende – I’m already working on this ” base” .Kikuyu will go far with all the conenctions and bling bling Haiya ME I want to be part of the Ugali oops pie:-)plus you better hold on to that atomic missile dude card, Conjestina is going places and Mr. Missile can take you places too:-)

  7. Mwende, you are. And lucky blessed! :-)

    Irena, the idea is to get the nyama parts that are served with the Ugali and not to mistake the burnt & hardened parts on the bottom of that Ugali cake for meat just because they are just as hard to chew…right?

  8. Now, with that “proverb” aka line , sijui how to respond so ..now where is the Taarabu man, I might be better off there after all:-)

  9. The Taarabu man is still taking care of his beard and cleaning “his instrument”. You may find him up on the coast…meanwhile, I’ve sent you some Zein l’Abdin tunes to get you into the mood // to pick up the groove. ^^

    (yes Mwende, we ARE nuts :-)

  10. I hear in Watamu they are in prenti (kyuk for plenty)… Let m e listen to the tune, to get assimilated to it,lakini some the taarabu Muziki, you need triple Martini/cosmopolitan +a glass of muratina or changaa” to enjoy it and the “instrument” have to let out the right tune !! But some taarabu music is aaight….Okay lemmi leave now and learn those belly dancing moves for my taarabu Ndugu hazizi:-)))

  11. Thanks for linking through flickr!

    This post is off the hook coz of the memories of Nairobi! OOHH, how I miss that city. 2006 nitakanyaga!

    As for your card, das ist gut! Your logo though could be worth reviewing coz it resembles the EABL (Tusker) logo. You dont want those corporate lawyers on you a$$, now do you?