PSI Team in Nairobi, Kenya

PSI in front of hospitalWritten by Sara Farsio, Kamellia Saroop, Jennifer Richard, Nick Greczyna, Deitrich Davidheiser

May 29th, 2018

Writing to you from my Westlands Apartment in Nairobi, Kenya. We just completed our final presentation with our client yesterday! Let me share a little about our time in country.

PSI IBD team visiting a national distributor, MEDS, and learning about how they control the quality of drugs

PSI IBD team visiting a national distributor, MEDS, and learning about how they control the quality of drugs

Our IBD team arrived in Nairobi 3 weeks ago to meet our client, Population Services International, face to face for the first time. Population Services International (PSI) is a U.S. based NGO that is working to make it easier for people in the developing world, work to lead healthier lives and plan the families they desire. PSI does this by carrying out Social Franchise Networks. While the organization works globally, our team has been partnering with the Franchise Networks in East Africa (over 500 clinics in the network!), looking to bring solutions to not only those in Kenya, but also Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Burundi and Somaliand.

In-Country – Week 1

It was great to get our feet on the ground when we arrived. We had meetings set up for us all week! I’ll share some highlights from our experience.

  • Visiting the Tunza Franchise Network clinics in Kenya. We went to 6 clinics and met with the owners and staff. Everyone was incredible friendly and willing to answer our questions even though they had a lot on their plates serving patients.
  • We met with the CEO of a new Group Purchasing Organization, MedSource. Incredible to hear about the platform they just launched to help clinics like the ones in the Tunza network.
  • Spending the day with the PS Kenya team was great. They drove us to the various clinics and shared their insights about working with clinics. We had a pit spot for lunch which was a perfect setting to get to know them better. We ate freshly fried Tilapia caught in Lake Victoria – delicious and so much bigger than what we see in the States.


We finished Week 1 with a weekend trip to Diani Beach! One of the world’s most beautiful beaches. Water was clear and sand was as white as it gets! Such a rewarding getaway for our team. We had a fun bonding experience going scuba diving along a coral reef! Deitrich was certified but for the rest of us, it was our first time. We saw starfish, sea turtles, eel, shrimp, and so much more.



In-Country – Week 2

Crunch time! Week 1 was a whole week of new information for us all to intake. This week we spent incorporating new insights into our strategy, then refining and validating our deliverables. This meant a lot of heads down time on our computers. Luckily, our apartments and the client office are really close by, so we had a good setup for getting a lot of work done. Each morning, our apartment complex offers us free breakfast. Kenyan tea is always a treat – comes with hot milk and is delicious– an influence from when the British colonialized Kenya.

Masai Mara

Masai Mara

Thursday of this week we did a practice dry run through of our final presentation to one person at PSI. This was a great chance to get feedback and prepare for next week.

A male lion!

A male lion!

We finished off Week 2 with a long awaited Safari! 6 hour drive from Nairobi and we were close to the Tanzanian border, in the middle of the Masai Mara. We did two game drives and saw tons of animals: lions, cheetah, leopard, wildebeest, gazelle, impalas, elephants, giraffes…the list goes on! Had a great time here and also got to meet the Masai villagers – and incredible and humbling experience.

PSI IBD Team with Carlos, our Safari Tour Guide.

PSI IBD Team with Carlos, our Safari Tour Guide.

In-Country – Week 3

Our last week! It felt so good to have worked so hard on the deck, practiced the presentation using our Lead Comm skills and presented to over 20 people from PSI. It was great to hear their feedback and excitement about our strategies. They appreciated how realistic our ideas were and it felt great to deliver! Enjoyed the rest of this week by finalizing our deliverables and enjoying Nairobi!

Team PSI enjoying dinner

Team PSI enjoying dinner

Updates from IBD Kenya – Team Jacaranda Maternity

Shruti Tibrewala is a Full-Time MBA/MPH working on an International Business Development project in Nairobi, Kenya. Her team, Viral Shah, Flavia Bicalho and Rodrigo Machado Pasianotto, is working with Jacaranda Maternity.

Jambo! We’re Team Jacaranda, 4 Full Time MBA students helping our client in Kenya understand how to build a sustainable model that allows the organization to provide low cost high quality maternity care to women across Kenya. We’ve been working with Jacaranda virtually since January and on site in Nairobi for the last 3 weeks. Our team brings a range of relevant interests and expertises to this project – Flavia brings her experience in M&A and Private Equity, Rodrigo and Viral in management consulting, ranging from market expansion strategies to healthcare providers and Shruti in biopharma and public health.

The team outside the clinic

The team outside the clinic

Our Work

Jacaranda Maternity aspires to be a chain of non-profit maternity clinics that provides low cost high quality services to women in Kenya. 40% of all births in Kenya are at home and the rest are done by public and private facilities. Jacaranda hopes to bridge the gap between poor quality public facilities and high cost private facilities.

Having now spent nearly three weeks in country, I feel confident that we have delivered significant value to the organization through our deliverables – a model and supporting set of recommendations. The mission of Jacaranda is clear and inspiring, but solving for financial sustainability has been a challenge. Over the course of our project, we collected a trove of valuable information that will allow Jacaranda clear visibility into their costs. Now, they can rationalize their pricing and product mix in order to ensure that they are making a sustainable margin on the valuable products they provide.

In addition, we worked hard to develop a one-of-a-kind tool that empowers the Executive Team to perform scenario analysis (varying pricing, costs, and service mix) to understand the bottom line impact overall and for each product they offer. Now, as Jacaranda Executives make strategic decisions, they will be able to do so with the support of our tool so that the financials map directly to actions.

Shruti and Flavia get a taste of medical life

Shruti and Flavia get a taste of medical life

Our client’s appreciation for our work has been so rewarding. Seeing how Jacaranda operates as well as it does so with the limited resources they have was inspiring – and knowing that we have helped them to stretch their capabilities even further is great. We have truly felt that we became trusted advisors to Jacaranda’s Executive Team – and were often solicited for advice on unrelated topics. From the work front perspective – mission accomplished! From a personal perspective – we are thrilled to be invited into the Jacaranda family and really enjoyed our time working with their team and learned a lot from them about their work and the culture.

A day in the life

Jacaranda currently has two clinics, both located on the outskirts of Nairobi, in Kiambu county. We were housed in an apartment a brief 5-7 min walk away from their Kahawa West clinic. Most days consisted of a few hours of client meetings, interviewing competitors, working with their clinical staff to design methods to collect data and working on the final deliverable.

Project work and getting to and from dinner consumed most of our weekdays. We were fortunate to have had many classmates who had lived or worked in Nairobi previously and had provided us with many recommendations of places to check out and taxi drivers to use. It seems as though traffic is an inevitable consequence of living in Nairobi – between the sporadic, heavy and unpredictable rains (a driver told us that all residents leave and get in their cars to go home at the same time when it rains), poor road infrastructure in some parts and matatus ruling the road (Nairobis public transport system, that is owned and run by various co-ops). That said, often our long taxi rides led to very interesting conversations with the drivers – learning about the Kikuyus and Luos in Kenya, multiple wives and carjackings. We chose to look at the glass half full and our excursions brought us to new adventures each day!

The Haas team with part of the amazing team that makes Jacaranda tick

The Haas team with part of the amazing team that makes Jacaranda tick


Our first weekend, we headed to Kenya’s beautiful Masai Mara, along with the UN Women team. Our drive up there took us through Kenya’s stunning Rift Valley and through a Masai village.


Team Jacaranda and Team UN Women outside Kenya’s stunning Rift Valley


Despite it being low season, we were fortunate to see 3 out of the “Big 5” – Lions, buffalo and elephants! And wow – it took our breath away! We also saw gazelles, cheetahs, vultures, giraffes, zebras and many, many other species. At one point, we saw a lion resting a few feet away from a carcass of a buffalo he had just demolished. Close by were 5-6 vultures on a tree and some hyenas. We felt we had just seen an entire food chain in action! I’ll probably never forget that sight. We slept in a luxury camp, with the sound of a live grunting hippo outside as background music. It was hands down, AMAZING.

Team meets...LION!!!

Team meets…LION!!!

The next weekend, the team headed to Zanzibar. Sadly, due to an unfortunate experience with Precision Air and Kenya Airways, the writer of this blog was unable to go but it seemed like it was an awesome experience!  However, from the rest of the team, I am able to report that the  picturesque beaches (apparently straight out of a postcard) coupled with stunning snorkeling, great food and drink made for a one-of-a-kind vacation.

Cheetahs in Masai big deal

Cheetahs in Masai Mara…no big deal


Despite being far from the city center, we felt very welcomed by our client and local Kenyans. We found that people enjoyed talking about themselves and their experiences and were warm, friendly and helpful. The staff at Jacaranda was comprised of passionate people who were always willing to help us with what we needed for our work. I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve heard the word “Karibu”, which means “Welcome” in Swahili, over the last 3 weeks. At one of the clinics, we were treated to a meal of ugali and skuma, which is traditional Kenyan cornmeal cake and greens. We even learned how to eat it with our hands! Yum!

As I write this post a day before we leave Kenya to return to our respective internships, I realize how far we have come since January, from first meeting each other to living in the same apartment for 3 weeks and eating all our meals together, from first hearing about our client to coming on site and meeting the people that run this organization and seeing the women it serves and finally from learning we’re going to Kenya and working on our ICO report to actually experiencing the life, the food and the people. This has been a life changing experience and we are so thankful to Haas, and Jacaranda for the opportunity.

Asante IBD, Jacaranda and Kenya!


Updates from IBD Kenya – Team UN Women

Berkeley-Haas MBA students Liz Liu, Sevda Gundogan, Sneha Sheth, and Tiffany Shieh participated in a summer IBD project in Kenya with the UN Women.

Quick background: This project is about empowering women in Kenya and Sub-Saharan Africa at large by providing online entrepreneurship modules. We were asked to find the target segment that would create the biggest impact, tailor Lean Launchpad trainings to the Kenyan context and the target segment, and then write scripts which will be turned into online videos by UN Women.

Women Entrepreneur Focus Groups

Throughout our three weeks in Kenya, we conducted interviews with ten organizations ranging from banks to technology companies to university programs. Through the interviews, we uncovered that UN Women should target high-potential, urban women entrepreneurs who had access to internet in order to make the largest impact. After identifying the target segment, we met with over 30 women entrepreneurs to further understand the challenges they face.

We found that the top priority training modules the women needed were 1) introduction to entrepreneurship 2) finance 3) sales and customer acquisition 4) marketing. We then developed the training scripts and iterated the writing based on feedback from women entrepreneurs to tailor the training to the Kenyan context.



Technovation Challenge

One highlight of our fieldwork in Kenya was the Technovation Challenge, an app design competition for high school girls in Nairobi. The challenge was organized by Safaricom and we were invited to attend and observe. This was truly and inspiring experience for all of us. We saw 16 year old girls create applications for emergencies, healthcare, and other social causes. They had not taken any formal business or coding training, but they had intellectual curiosity and the courage to build prototypes. We spent a day with them and talked about their dreams. They all wanted to change the world and we could see that they all were capable of this. Kenyan females, from illiterate middle-aged women to high school girls, are powerful and impressive.



Team Bonding

We came to IBD as four different women from various continents and backgrounds. We didn’t know each other before. We have noticed that IBD brought us together because we all had something in common. We were passionate about creating a better world, empowering women, bringing gender equality through education especially in the least developed parts of the world

We talked with women from various industries and age groups. We discovered their needs and got surprised by how women all over the world were subject to the same discriminations and challenges.

This IBD project was not only a business trip to Kenya but also a personal growth journey for all of us. We got to know each other and ourselves. We discovered how we have faced similar challenges in our careers with the Kenyan women. We shared our passions, our dreams with each other on education and women empowerment. While working on empowering women in Africa, we have noticed that we empowered each other during these five months.

Getting to know each other was the best part of IBD for all of us.


Updates from IBD Kenya – World-Class Healthcare & Beauty for Kenya…Even from the US

Akilah Huguley is a full-time MBA student working on an International Business Development project with Kenya-based Africa Chemist and Beauty Care (ACBC). 

Many of us come to business school with illustrious travel plans on the mind.  At Haas, IBD provides the opportunity for an unchartered global business travel consulting project. I remember the evening of our first IBD class and how excited I was to find out that I, along with 3 of my classmates, would be traveling to Nairobi, Kenya to help a new pharmacy chain enter into the Kenyan market. This project for my team was certainly a dream come true—an assignment that utilized our healthcare & retail backgrounds plus an opportunity to travel to a place none of us had ever been before. Over the course of the semester, we built a strong relationship with our client even from thousands of miles away. All seemed to be in a great place for us to hit the ground running on field work as soon as we stepped off the plane in Nairobi. With bags packed and flight tickets in hand on Friday, May 16th (the day before leaving for our IBD trip), none of us could have predicted the turn that our trip would take.

I remember waking up quite early on Friday morning (in anticipation of our upcoming travels) to an email from our faculty advisor. The email contained the subject line, “Travel Risk for Kenya.” Kristi Raube, the Director of the IBD Program and our project advisor, was writing to inform us that the US Embassy had posted a security message informing travelers to closely evaluate their personal travel situations based on “heightened threats of terrorism and the high rate of violent crime” in Kenya.

That day in Kenya, at 2:30pm local time, two bombs had detonated in the Gikomba market, a marketplace right outside of Nairobi, killing 10 people and leaving many injured. Only hours later, the UK Embassy evacuated all of its citizens out of the Kenyan coastal city of Mombasa amid threats of terrorists attacks in the area. Receiving emails of support and concern from our client and our advisor, we were now faced with the dilemma of what to do next.

acbcbbcfinalBBC Footage of Aftermath of Explosions

One of our team members had made her way to Kenya early to spend additional time traveling the country before the kickoff of our project. We knew it was pertinent to speak with her before making our final decision of whether to go to Kenya or not.

daniellePicture of team member (Danielle Platt) in the Massai Mara (a national game reserve in Kenya known for its vast population of wildlife and the annual migration of zebras, gazelles, and wildebeests from the Serengeti)

After much deliberation and meeting with the entire team, we decided to delay our flight a few days, giving us time to digest the information at hand. It was extremely important for us to complete and present a quality final deliverable to the client… and the question was, would we be able to do this all the way from the US? Could we turn a tough situation into a successful outcome for our client?

Over the course of the project, we had uncovered a number of insights around the low-quality of pharmacies in Kenya—including the overwhelming presence of counterfeit products as well as the grey market, the channel by which branded products illegally and unsustainably make their way into Kenya. However, we really wanted to experience and understand the state of the market better for ourselves, speaking with customers directly and building connections to best understand how ACBC could be the answer to the problems that Kenyan consumers face.

Analyzing our project plan, we found that it could be feasible to complete our project from the US with our team member in Kenya playing a crucial role as the on-the-ground eyes and ears for the team. With modern technologies like Google Hangout & Skype, understanding a customer that was thousands of miles away didn’t seem impossible. With a few more days to feel confident in our decision, the three of us that were in the US decided that we would stay locally and complete the project remotely. Our teammate that was already in Kenya decided to spend another week in-country and then return back to the US to join the team.



compshop3Competitive Shopping Photos from Nairobi

Over the next week after making our decision to stay in the US to complete the project, we met every morning via Skype (accommodating a 10-hour time difference) to discuss what we had completed in the prior day, conversations with the client, new insights we were developing from interviews and secondary research, and next steps in order to hold to our project plan. In the US, we were even able to meet with the founder of the company (the other half of the client team) who lives in San Francisco to discuss our project progress.

sfibd2Meeting with Our Client in San Francisco

Upon our team member’s return, we held a full brainstorm day (using our learnings from Haas’ Problem Finding Problem Solving class) to aggregate customer insights we had gained from our interviews in order to pin-point the customer segments that our client should target. acbcbrainstorm2



Brainstorm Day in San Francisco

The outcome of our brainstorm and our semester of learning about the personal care, beauty, and pharmacy industries in Kenya was a comprehensive report of four key customer segments that our client might target. Within these segments, we found that many customers were not satisfied with the care and attention they received from pharmacies. They often leave a pharmacy still needing more information about products that better cater to their healthcare needs. In a market where most patients self-medicate and do not frequently visit doctors, customers need a place that they can go and obtain trustworthy guidance and consultation. We were able to provide actionable steps that the client could take to help the Kenyan customer gain confidence in this new pharmacy model in Kenya.

Upon completing the project, we were able to provide many insightful answers for the client. But in the process of completing the project, we also learned a crucial lesson within our team. This experience taught us that although international travel is great, going to an exciting new country is not the most important part of business school or the IBD experience. It is about helping people. With our project, we hope to help Kenyans gain access to the things that we take for granted here. We have heard people’s stories and frustrations and now look to turn these into solutions. Our ability to go beyond the status quo in the face of a tough international travel situation and our motivation to go beyond ourselves in finding ways to connect with a consumer halfway across the world allowed us to be influential in an evolutionary change that can impact millions of people. And the more inspiring part, we were able to do this even from thousands of miles away.

Improving access to healthcare in rural Kenya through mobile technology

Project Background:

Our client was Novartis, a large pharmaceutical company that recently launched a social business program to provide health education to community groups in several rural regions of Kenya. Novartis had previously achieved a highly successful social business program in India and hired our team to see how to build on a similar program in Kenya and also how to introduce aspects of mHealth.  In addition to health trainings, the company organizes health camps where people who often struggle to access healthcare can receive free consultations and lab tests.  Our team was tasked with investigating ways to further improve access to healthcare for people at the base of the pyramid (BOP population usually living on <$2/day) through the use of mobile technology.

Kenya is one of the leading African countries in terms of mobile penetration, and both SMS and voice calling is very inexpensive, creating many terrific opportunities for mHealth interventions. mHealth (mobile health) is generally defined as any program that delivers health messages, information, or does health data collection through the use of mobile phones.

Our first week – Field Research

We arrived in Nairobi and were immediately caught up by the energy of the city, excited to meet our client and get to know a bit of Kenya’s culture and healthcare system.  We spent our first Sunday exploring our neighborhood and local cuisine.  It turns out there is fantastic Indian food in Nairobi! On Monday morning we had our first encounter with rush hour traffic in Nairobi, but made it to our client’s office and had an immensely productive day, getting all of the background information for our client’s program.  The rest of our first week would be spent conducting field research in two regions where the client is currently operating.

Over the course of three days, we shadowed pharmaceutical sales reps, watched Health Educators give trainings to community groups, and were exposed to a full spectrum of healthcare options in rural Kenya.  We observed sales reps interact with pharmacists, physicians, nurses, and other healthcare providers.  Our team members had the opportunity to conduct in-depth interviews with community members to understand how they make decisions about when to access healthcare and how they manage the associated costs.  Interviews provided insight into opportunities for mHealth interventions to improve people’s ability to access and pay for care.

Our research made it abundantly clear that many people at the BOP struggle to access quality care and are often unable to afford better options. Most people had zero savings and paid for healthcare out-of-pocket with cash or money borrowed from friends and neighbors.  Community members were engaged and eager to receive trainings about such topics such as hygiene, nutrition, and avoidance of self-medication.



First weekend – Masaii Mara safari!

We spent our first full weekend giddily bumping along jutted dirt roads, vying to get the best views of animals in the vast expanse of the Masaii Mara.  Our first evening we watched with a combination of awe and disgust as a pack of female lions hunted and killed a buffalo.  We were lucky to see four of the “big five” animals, only missing rhinos.  One evening we also visited a Masaii village to learn more about the culture, traditional dances, and how the Masaii people fend off predators when they graze their cattle and goats inside national parks full of lions, leopards, and other threats. 




Week two – Meetings in Nairobi and analysis

Our second week was full of meetings with organizations who are working in mHealth, telehealth, and healthcare financing in Kenya.  We particularly enjoyed meeting with Medic Mobile and getting to see the iHub, a co-working space in Nairobi that looks very similar to the Hub and other shared workspaces in the U.S.  We were excited by the innovation and knowledge sharing opportunities. 

We took time to leverage some of our learnings from the Haas PFPS course and used hundreds of Post-It Notes to do an in-depth brainstorming session on findings from our field research.  Coincidentally, we chose to do this activity one evening at our hotel and hotel management was hugely perplexed by our iterative process of scattering and rearranging Post-It Notes across several tables on the outside patio.  Week two also provided us some real “consulting time,” as we dove deep into PowerPoint, diligently working to present our findings and recommendations in a compelling fashion for our client. 

On Friday we gave our client in Kenya a sneak peak at our deck to get his initial reactions.  He seemed excited about our ideas and was pleasantly surprised about the depth of insight we were able to gather in the field, as well as our operational insights that could be applied beyond mHealth.  We went into the weekend feeling energized and excited for more exploration.



Second weekend – Nightlife and more exploring in nature

Our second weekend we opted to stay in and around Nairobi and had a fantastic time.  On Friday night we checked out the local nightlife at a restaurant that has one of the only local breweries in the region.  Once the DJ arrived, we made Haas proud and proved our worth on the dance floor, even taking time to learn some new dance moves from local Kenyans. 

On Saturday we left bright and early to drive down to the Rift Valley to visit the famous Hell’s Gate and Lake Naivasha.  We rented bicycles at the Hell’s Gate National Park and biked 8km through natural beauty to the famous gorges.  After a short picnic (during which we spent most of our time fighting off monkeys rather than eating) we went for a hike and were able to see some natural hot springs and scenery.  Before heading back to Nairobi, we went to a viewpoint at Lake Naivasha and saw some flamingos. 

On Sunday morning Aaron and Javier visited Kibera, the largest urban slum in Africa.  Our work has been focused on improving access to healthcare to people at the base of the pyramid, and while most Kibera residents lack access to basic services, including electricity and running water and sanitation is a major issue contributing to health problems, our focus has been on the rural poor.  Someone who lives on less than $2 per day, but has a half acre of land to grow maize and a small vegetable garden has a vastly different experience than someone who lives on less than $2 a day in a 5 kilometer slum with 200,000 other residents.  We have been very interested by updates we receive from one of the other Haas IBD team that is working in Kibera for the Human Needs Project.

On Sunday afternoon we headed to the outskirts of the city for Blankets and Wine, a music festival featuring singers from across Africa.  We were especially excited to see Zahara from South Africa.  One of the other Haas teams joined us and we had a great time sitting in the sun, listening to great music, and doing a bit of dancing. 



Week three: Recommendations and client visit

We kicked off our third week by focusing on finalizing our recommendations.  We have to admit we got even closer as a team this week.  There is something to be said about spending hours together in a small conference room, meticulously going through minute details in PowerPoint.  Our client arrived from Europe on Wednesday morning and after another amazing Arabian lunch, it was time to unveil the key findings and recommendations from our research.  We took time to report on our findings from our field research, not just as they relate to recommendations for mHealth interventions, but also how to improve the operations and efficiency of the field teams as the program grows. 

In the end, we made three key recommendations about opportunities to use mobile technology to improve access to healthcare in rural areas.  Our recommendations centered around finding ways to use mobile to improve access to information about health and prevention as well as access to finance and savings.  M-Pesa, a mobile savings and payment system that is widespread in Kenya, has done a ton to open Kenya to opportunities in mHealth. 

During our three weeks in Kenya, we had the opportunity to meet with a number of companies and organizations that are working to improve the livelihoods of Kenyans in the BOP, either through helping to set up savings and credit groups, health education, other mHealth interventions, etc.  One of the program managers we met at AMREF made a very important point that partnerships are key to ensure sustainable and scalable interventions: “One thing to realize about the world right now is that no one is going out to do anything alone.  Groups are forming partnerships and consortiums where they all have strengths.  To go alone is risky, but finding complementary partners can lead to great programs.”

We believe Novartis is well positioned to be a leader in social business and sustainable mHealth interventions.  We are incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to work on this consulting engagement and hope to visit Kenya some day in the future.



Spurring Innovation in Nairobi’s ‘Silicon Savannah’

 Team Juhudi Kilimo is in Nairobi, Kenya working with Juhudi Kilimo to develop a strategy for structuring, financing and operating a new innovation lab, dubbed “Juhudi Labs”, which will support the continual development of Juhudi Kilimo services to rural smallholder farmers.

Before our trip, we knew that Nairobi is one of the most prominent and fast growing cities in East Africa. Yet, I don’t know if we were fully prepared for the culture of innovation that Nairobi breeds. Also, we didn’t quite realize the impact that we would have as we developed the business model for Juhudi Labs, an innovation lab that would partner with outside entrepreneurs and streamline internal resources to develop micro finance solutions.


Week one started off at our client’s headquarters: a brand spanking new second floor location in the posh Kilimani area – boasting reliable Internet, a generator, and security guards.  From our balcony, we interviewed local entrepreneurs and Juhudi’s team to delve more into the structure that Juhudi Labs would undertake.


 That first week we also ventured to iHub, a co-working space and business incubator for local entrepreneurs, designers, and developers. iHub is heavily funded by big players such as Microsoft, Samsung, and Google; and is the heart of Nairobi’s Silicon Savannah.  And although locals deride the term “Silicon Savannah” since there is no real manufacturing capability here, the bigger picture is that Nairobi is abuzz with innovation and entrepreneurship, and our project with Juhudi Labs is positioned to be right at the center of it. GrowthHub, our next stop on the Nairobi tech movement discovery and as equally impressive, offers mentorship, access to capital, and training.


 Week two took us into rural Kenya, our client’s satellite stronghold. Juhudi offers micro financing to rural farmers, and Ned our strategy professor would say, that is their internal fit. And what a fit it is – we spent about 48 hours over 5 days in a rented matatu, a Kenyan minibus, on Dramamine-required dirt “roads”, visiting farmers throughout El Doret, Bungoma and Masaii Mara (okay that last town was for a safari trip but I digress). We came face to face with the Kenyan spirit of kazi ngumu (hard work), from the farmers who worked tirelessly tending their dairy cows, the cooling plant operators who collected and distributed the milk to brokers, and Joseph our matatu driver who never seemed tired while we uncomfortably slept through most of the ride.


A lot of us came to business school and chose Berkeley specifically for its proximity to Silicon Valley and the Bay Areas’s ecosystem of entrepreneurship. What we IBD’ers at Juhudi were privileged to experience was not just Mother Africa and the best she has to offer (oh yeah safaris and beach houses!!) but the ability to spur innovation and this ecosystem through Juhudi Labs in the ever-growing Silicon Savannah.

 We are very grateful to IBD and Juhudi Kilimo for the opportunity to meet, work with and learn from such an amazing group of people!

Asante Sana!

Thank you! Merci! Gracias!


Juhudi Kilimo and IBD Kenya – Turning the Corner

After reflecting on a wonderful three weeks in Kenya, we’ve decided to blog about what’s been the highlight of our trip – the opportunity to make a major impact at a fantastic young organization preparing to enter the next stage of its development. Juhudi Kilimo is microfinance organization that makes loans to farmers specifically for agricultural products such as cows, chickens and dairy equipment. Recently, Juhudi transitioned from a non-profit to a for-profit social enterprise and the organization is looking to rapidly expand its loan staff and reach 100,000 Kenyan farmers by 2015. A major aspect of this growth will be the project IBD was tasked with taking on, the creation of a loan officer performance scheme. In other words, our IBD team has created a bonus system for Juhudi’s loan officers that incentivizes improvements in loan disbursements and loan quality.

We spent our first week in Nairobi at the head office, meeting with staff, including the eight branch office leads, and finalizing the details of the pilot incentive scheme. Without going into too much detail about the scheme, the general concept is that employees are awarded for hitting monthly disbursements targets and for achieving a low Portfolio at Risk. Although much of the work on the scheme was completed before arriving in Kenya, we made a few major decisions about the project during that first week. First, we decided that the incentive scheme would be group-based, at least for the first year. As mentioned above, Juhudi is growing rapidly and we wanted to ensure that the organization maintains its focus on teamwork during this period. Additionally, we felt that a group-based system would be easier to manage and provide a smoother transition period for the organization. Second, we decided to launch the pilot for the scheme in all eight branch offices as opposed to the original plan of only four offices. In making this decision, we felt that the risks of alienating those offices not participating in pilot outweighed the potential benefits of having a control group. Finally, we decided that Juhudi’s existing system of setting disbursement targets should be revamped for the purposes of the incentive scheme. Instead of having each individual loan officer base their targets on projections worked out with their supervisor, we decided to set a standard organizational target, which represented the upper quartile of historical loan officer performance.

For the last two weeks in Kenya, we’ve been traveling around the country, visiting all the branch offices to train Juhudi’s employees on the pilot incentive scheme. Two weeks ago, we all visited the Marang’a branch office, which is two hours east of the capital. Then Adam and Luis traveled six hours west of the capital to visit the Kisii and Nyamira offices. Allan and Jerry also traveled six hours west to visit the Kericho and Litein offices. This week, Allan and Adam traveled eight hours north to visit the Eldoret and Kitale offices. Finally, Jerry and Luis traveled four hours east to visit the Nkubu office. Presenting to the field staff was a wonderful experience. In addition to getting to see most of the country, we got to spend time with over 40 members of Juhudi’s talented and dynamic staff. Additionally, we all got to spend time with a number of Juhudi’s clients, at their farms and in their homes. For example, this week Adam and Allan shadowed a loan officer at the Kitale Branch and got to travel the countryside on boda bodas (motorcycle taxis) visiting local farmers.

Luis, Jerry and Allan with Milly, Marang’a MFO

Ultimately, while the creation of our project was a rewarding experience, the most satisfying aspect is that Juhudi Kilimo will actually be adopting our work. Starting today (June 1st, 2012), the organization will begin a month long simulation of the incentive scheme, where they will track bonuses and report them to staff. Next month, Juhudi will launch the actual pilot and begin tracking, and paying out, bonuses. The pilot program will last one year and the head office will survey the staff on their perceptions at the midpoint and endpoint of the program. We’ve also equipped the head office with calculators and formulas that will allow them to quantitatively monitor the efficacy of the incentive scheme. At the end of the year, the head office will decide whether to continue with the incentive scheme and with what changes. And hopefully they will be supported in this venture by another Haas IBD team!

Finally, while our work with the Juhudi was the highlight of the trip, we definitely had some exciting times outside of the office. Immediately after landing in Kenya, we had the opportunity to support the country’s law enforcement in the form of a bribe paid on our way from the airport. On the brighter side, we had an amazing time on safari at the Maasai Mara, where we saw cheetahs, elephants, giraffes, zebras and mating lions. We also fell in love with the local cuisine and consumed more than our fair share of Nyoma Choma and Ugali. On the stranger side, we visited a nature conservancy in Kitale that hosted genetically mutated animals, including a bull named Laser that had four horns and three working eyes. Tomorrow, we’ll leave Kenya and finish our adventure with a visit to Zanzibar, Tanzania!

Adam and Allan with Lazer

Allan, Adam, Jerry and Luis at the Maasai Mara