- Profitable companies and corporations that once stood all and were the envy of their industries, raking in one award after another, have gone bust and filed for bankruptcy.
- More than 6,403 stores from Charming Charlie to Payless have announced closure and filed for bankruptcy so far as of 2017.
- Business Insider SSA recently had a chat with Jason Spindler, CEO and Managing Director at I-DEV International, to understand the root of why otherwise successful corporations go bust faster than you can say Timbuktu.
From Kodak to Nakumatt, these were once the biggest companies in the world, unrivaled at their peak. They came, they saw, they conquered, and then they came tumbling down.
Profitable companies and corporations that once stood tall and were the envy of their industries, raking in one award after another, have gone bust and filed for bankruptcy.
In recent years the biggest casualties of bankruptcy have come from the retail sector with retailers closing thousands of stores following years of declines in sales and customer traffic.
More than 6,403 stores from Charming Charlie to Payless have announced closure and filed for bankruptcy so far as of 2017.
Business Insider SSA recently had a chat with Jason Spindler, CEO and Managing Director at I-DEV International, a strategy and investment advisory firm with offices in San Francisco, Lima, and Nairobi, to understand the root of why otherwise successful corporations go bust faster than you can say Timbuktu.
Jason, Co-Founder of I-DEV, has over 15 years of experience advising large and small corporations on growth, management and financial strategy.
I-DEV has been around for nine years and has worked with more than 300 investors, companies, iNGOs, and DFIs in 45 countries to build leading, high impact businesses and a stronger private sector in emerging markets.
Locally the company has worked with some of the biggest firms to help them source funds and to advise on growth strategy as they seek to expand their businesses nationally, regionally and even globally.
The firm recently helped Kenya’s mobile-based produce delivery firm Twiga Foods secure funding of ~$2 million in seed capital and helped put in place their growth plan for the first 24 months.
“The raise was the largest seed round in East Africa to date at that time, and it was a pretty groundbreaking deal for East Africa. It really changed the East African tech scene, and put it on the global map,” says Jason. This company has attracted 1st time Africa investors from Silicon Valley, DC to the Middle East, and continues to raise.
I-DEV also recently closed another transaction for Big Square, a leading and fast-growing casual dining restaurant chain, helping secure $ 6.5 million to scale from 8 locations to 33 locations and begin to move toward East Africa regional expansion.
In addition, I-DEV is working with Sir Henry’s, a benchmark store that offers an exclusive collection of men’s clothes and accessories, to help the business grow from 4 locations to 20 locations in Kenya.
“We are doing some other very interesting transactions that I can’t talk about just yet but it will be in the public eye in the next few months if all goes as planned!” said Jason.
Jason is an old hand in investment and has seen corporations go under before his very eyes.
“I started off in investment banking on Wall Street at Salomon Smith Barney/Citigroup in New York during the dot.com boom and then the dot.com bust, and the companies we were working with were some of the largest telecoms in the world. These are companies that had raised billions of dollars in capital and they still went bankrupt. One company we had done a billion dollar bond for and then a year later, we ended up selling the company in bankruptcy for $100 million. That was just a billion dollar bond. Let’s not talk about the bank debt that they had and then the equity and the IPO that they had right before. So $5 billion was probably lost from just that one company.”
Jason says there are multiple reasons why corporations fail but key among them, which is perhaps the biggest Achilles heel is a business’ internal structure.
“One of the things we noticed looking at companies and startups in East Africa, is that a kind of a pivot point in the market occurred more recently- where, for example, Kenyan businesses launched in the past five years were slated for growth from the very start. They were designed from day one to grow as rapidly as possible, and that can absorb and leverage external investment whether it is from international or family money. They were built from Day one with proper accounting systems and no double books. They were built from Day one to sacrifice cash flow and profitability for growth, so it’s very much a new economy Silicon Valley approach to building businesses.
On the other hand, there are businesses which have hit the 10 year mark that have profitability so investors especially PEs can look at them and figure out how to value them but they have double books because most of the time they are family businesses, their accounts is a mess, the board and the shareholders’ positions are often very contentious, they don’t want external investors coming in, they are very hesitant to take equity and even debt BUT they are cash flow positive.”
Faced with the two situations, investors normally overlook newer business models with proper systems but with negative cash flow and wrongly invest in businesses which on the surface look very profitable yet are actually built on sandy soil.
“The challenge that we see with a lot of investors is that they are confused by these new economy businesses that purposely choose to sacrifice profitability and cash flow for early and rapid growth. Traditional PE funds (private equity) typically don’t understand how to value businesses like this and deem them not profitable. They say ‘we can only invest in profitable businesses or invest in you but your valuations are going to be low.’”
“So you got have these two types of businesses and the private equity funds are stuck in the middle of the two, struggling to understand how to go about it. Historically, they have worked with the second type of business, yet really, the first time of business lines up better for them! But they need to get comfortable investing in cash flow negative deals especially in the first years!”
Ultimately at the end of the day, Jason says the biggest reason corporations big or small come tumbling down always boils down to one thing — cash flow problems.
“So whether you are a big or small company, cash flow management is critical.” It also requires picking and planning for the right clients, and building an investment strategy that supports this.
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow
Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.
Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.
Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.
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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020. It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.
A study by Dr. Habil Otanga, a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.
KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.
Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.
As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.
“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”
Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.
Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.
“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”
Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.
“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.
Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.
Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.
She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.
Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.
“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added
Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.
“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and also engage in reading that would help expand their knowledge.