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CEO Weekends: Behold, the end of reason!

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word-flesh-reason-christmasThough we are supposed to be in the age of big data, people still think we have come that we have come to the end of reason. And to many, this looks like the beginning of the battle of gods.

Leila Khalif is a Kenyan practising muslim. She believes in working hard and leaving the rest to God.

As a practicing muslim and a woman, and one of the few muslim women in the service industry using tech, she is not only a figure of hope to her teammates but can easily be trusted being muslim and a woman.

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Standing out to gain an education and head to the boardroom straight minus knocking any doors for jobs, Leila is getting hardened and trained as an up and coming business woman as the CEO of TasKwetu, a Kenyan version of TaskRabbit which is based at Nailab. Kibarua Now is a similar company, helping people carry out local tasks and slightly different from TasKwetu. Both were founded by women inspired by their faith, both have strong backing from family and friends.

Great education and experience

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Kibarua Now’s founder Shiko Gitau is an experienced tech entrepreneur and consultant, having founded her own companies and worked for behemoth Google for some time.  Just like her counterpart, Gitau is a staunch Christian woman and as well hardworking. Gitau believes that with god all things are possible and having the work of her hands blessed by God, every business challenge can hear her voice and obey. This is true in the Christian faith.

Both companies have raised seed funding to prove their businesses. Both started companies after seeing the need to help people manage their lives. Both are women-led teams.

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Khalif, busy and down to her business building and surveying, trying out things and taking word out about her company and doing everything to see success. Just like her counterpart, using her wider networks, Gitau has created relationships with local entrepreneurs by hosting them at her office, picking their brains and then going to almost every campus and corporate firms that might need Kibarua Now’s services. Both devout believers, are not sitting back to wait for things to happen but are working and believing that they will reap whatever they saw.

Consumer and merchant awareness

Just like Rocket Internet , Ringier,  Naspers and One Africa Media are doing for internet commerce, investing millions of dollars on consumer and merchant awareness, Taskwetu and Kibarua Now are also putting in their time on the same. Something dash2do should have done back in 2011. Dash2do left as quietly as it came.

However, years later, Taskwetu and Kibarua Now are also facing a little competition from jua kali services such as Nitume services, and Eunema Errands who are willing to do a task if or when it comes in but are not ready to go out acquire customers. Many similar competition are still subsistence and are using Facebook groups and referrals to get one or two customers on a good day

As the two close in on the market, gradually small name players like Eunema and Nitume might be forced to close shop and concentrate on their day jobs. But as the two down to business; the biggest challenge will be customer retention after sales.  Each will eventually learn another’s USP’s, serve one or two common clients and with the feedback get back to the drawing board-not to introduce themselves or their products and services to the market but who the real task master is-trying to beat their competition. If each decide to raise money-they will get it.

The end of reason

If both decide to turn to networks for support-chances are they will meet the same mentors and if both do traditional visits and promotions-their team will end up exchanging fliers in campuses, hubs and streets. This will be a nice game for the public until things get really ugly.

Ugly in the sense that the market is small to the extent that your competitors know all your strategies, know who you are in talks to raise money, which client came to you from them and what next thing you are planning. If you think your competitor can’t plant a mole in your company wait until you see a similar headline on the The Daily Nation and The Standard, Kenya’s leading dailies. Don’t get paranoid but sometimes employee poaching is induced.  Or you are basically being watched however hard you hide.

The Outliers talks of ten thousand hours into mastery of an art but the theory is great for art or talent and not logical in business as both competitors are willing to go all the way to win.

Limitless possibilities

At the end of ten thousand hours of faking it and hard work, experience, reason, USP’s and strategy the only foolish business step is religion. Others term it superstition because though they believe in bets, computer games or positivism for success they say it’s not a faith. Others believe in their earlier success and can be so overconfident. But seems people have to believe in something even if the something is nature or themselves or their lucky pants.

Even Steve Jobs in his 2005 Stanford University commencement address tells students they gotta believe in something. Though most people would turn to some natural force or being to justify or peg their tomorrow on, Muslims and Christians are known for their strong belief in God, albeit through different prophets.

Fasting, prayerful reading and meditation on Holy Scriptures is in both, so is giving and being nice to strangers and your religious leaders/centre.

Both measure success to godliness and obedience.

According to a narration of prophet Muhammed Peace be upon him, “Asked ‘what form of gain is the best? [the Prophet] said, ‘A man’s work with his hands, and every legitimate sale’. (Ahmad, No: 1576)

Joshua 1:8 says: “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.”

Other verses include;

The Blessings of Obedience
11“The LORD will make you abound in prosperity, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your beast and in the produce of your ground, in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers to give you. 12“The LORD will open for you His good storehouse, the heavens, to give rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hand; and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. 13“The LORD will make you the head and not the tail, and you only will be above, and you will not be underneath, if you listen to the commandments of the LORD your God, which I charge you today, to observe them carefully,…
Cross References

Deuteronomy 11:14
then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil.

Deuteronomy 15:6
For the LORD your God will bless you as he has promised, and you will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. You will rule over many nations but none will rule over you.

Deuteronomy 23:20
You may charge a foreigner interest, but not a fellow Israelite, so that the LORD your God may bless you in everything you put your hand to in the land you are entering to possess.

Be still and know than am god

Back in my campus days one of my professors argued that Max Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism promoted what we see today. People working around the clock to make ends meet and show that God loves them if they are successful and they belong to the devil if they are poor and sickly.

In the book, Weber says some religious ideas led to the capitalistic spirit showing the relationship of a protestant and a business person. Most christians today belief that their right-ness with God will lead them to success and vice versa. Godliness is profitable unto all things says 1 Tim 4:8. Weber portays the pursuit of holiness in the same sights as the pursuit of wealth and acceptance in the society today.

So are works of Puritans according to various reports.

They formed the first formal school, formed the first American College; Harvard in Cambridge, established the first printing press and because religion provided a stimulus and prelude for scientific thought, the Puritans were the first scientists in the Royal Society of London.

Religion and billionaires

According to a January 2015 report by CNBC, the greatest number of billionaires globally are religious. The study found that more than two-thirds of the world’s millionaires are affiliated with a religion. And many others agree that the protestant work ethic is real and is at work in may religious folks lives.

For code and my startup vs For god and my country

Entreprenuers have always belived in something.

Sam Gichuru, co-founder and CEO the Nailab agrees.

“If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything , having a strong faith is a good foundation for anyone in business and it has been for me.”

Though thousands still believe in great code, business skills and great team work, others argue that the end of reason is the beginning of limitless-that movie!

Is faith taking over reason?


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Sam Wakoba
Sam Wakoba
Taking you on tour through Africa's tech and business ecosystem, one story at a time since 2010! Based out of Nairobi, Kenya, Sam is the founder and managing director of Moran Media, which runs, various other digital platforms and a startup incubation hub for Kenya's youthful entrepreneurs. Drop me a mail at [email protected]

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