The International Nairobi Module kicked off on January 11 with a dinner at the Heron Portico Hotel in Nairobi. Prof. Fred Ogola introduced Prof. David Sperling, research professor and senior research fellow in the Strathmore Governance Centre. He talked about the history of Kenya and told us about his personal experiences in the country since 1989.
Every morning students arrived promptly for the bus to take us to Strathmore Business School where Kenyan tea and coffee were waiting for us.
On our way to SBS we were able to see several construction projects and the level of insecurity that workers face on a daily basis.
During the first week, students attended multidisciplinary sessions in which several professors introduced economics, marketing, operations and finance topics. Some of the sessions included African case studies that reflected real management decisions, which gave students the opportunity to discuss the cases with relevant local managers.
During the week, the group made several site visits. Students were exposed to the business potential and the opportunities and challenges that Africa offers business leaders.
We visited the Kenyatta Market, where groups of students had to bargain to get the best prices on different items and then compare their results with the real prices in supermarkets. Some of them had a tough time trying to convince locals to lower their prices.
We also went to the Kibera slum, which is the biggest on the African continent. We visited two schools, where we needed a police escort.
We had the chance to speak to some of the privileged students who are able to study. They were motivated by the fact that the best ones would get grants and therefore an opportunity to have a better life. It touched us to see the way they had to live.
We were not allowed to take any pictures of the facility at VegPro. We had to wait for the guided visit in the garden, so Alex took advantage of the break to do the case of the day. VegPro is located at the airport itself. It only takes 24 hours for the vegetables to reach the UK once they are collected from the ground. VegPro produces vegetables that are sold mainly in Marks & Spencer stores and Sainsbury’s and Waitrose supermarkets.
We were able to see their production plant and how 500 workers washed, cut and sealed the vegetables. It is compulsory for the workers to wash their hands every 30 minutes for hygiene reasons as gloves are not permitted due to the toxic components they are made from. Jobs are not rotational, meaning that certain workers might just peel carrots for their entire working life and consider themselves happy about their job.
On Saturday, on our way to Naivasha, we stopped to see the view of the valley before visiting the Van den Berg Roses Plantation. We were impressed with the different varieties and colors of the roses. It was so hot that we had to look for shade.
We had lunch at Naivasha Lake, which was full of hippos. Alex decided to bargain for a ride around the lake. It was a very scary experience, but a nice and refreshing one at the same time. Look at how close we were from this hungry family of hippos!
After a game drive in Nakuru, we had the chance to see the white rhino, which was the only one out of the “Big Five” that we had not seen after a week in Kenya. Lake Nakuru is very well-known as a home for flamingos, but only a few were left following recent floods.
Finally, after an incredible day, we got the rest we deserved at the Nakuru Lodge and it was not bad at all!
“This week gave us the chance to learn about the business opportunities and history of Kenya, but we also developed our cultural intelligence.”
During the second week, they set the context and developed crucial ideas for the development of the infield project. In order to do this, students worked with different companies including Airtel, Motion Pics, Rusinga and Sandoz. Students were organised into small teams and cooperated with local business leaders to help them solve the problems that Kenyan companies face and make a true difference in a real-world scenario by applying what they had learnt during the first week.