Could the real Victor Kyalo stand up?

Victor Kyalo is the Deputy CEO of the Kenya ICT Board in charge of the Kenya Transparency Communications Infrastructure Project, the board’s flagship project that is supposed to, among other things, provide for the outsourcingb sector the Bandwidth Subsidy.

For months, we have waited with bated breath for news of how the bandwidth subsidy will be disbursed in order to support our lives. As it is, they owe us subsidy since at least June. We are yet to hear from Victor how we proceed and plan. many of us emplyed more people because of what Bitange Ndemo told us about the subsidy and its timelines.

Also, we are waiting to see what Victor will advice us regarding getting outsourcing to rural Kenya.

Will the real Victor Kyalo rise?

We are not alone, are we?

You know it is necessary for me to be clear on what we, the outsourcing fraternity really need in this times of difficulty. We need the world out there to know that we are capable and that we are able to service them without any problems at all. That Kenya is peaceful and for the most part, that Kenya is a viable outsourcing destination despite the issues that they may have read/heard/ saw in the papers. Our prices are still reasonable and out service is still outstanding.

From the Kenya ICT Board – I neglect to speak to  the Kenya BPO Society, because they lack credibility in my eyes – we need support in speaking to the local business industry to show them that outsourcing to us is a cost-saving mechanism for them. It is also imperative, that Paul Kukubo, the CEO of the board, and Dr. Bitange Ndemo, PS information and Communications, lend us some significant muscle not only in support of outsourcing locally but also, influence the other government departments to outsource to Kenya.

Of the Kenya ICT Board,  we would like for them to provide us with a forum that will enable us to talk to each other, to speak openly to the society about the issues and more importantly, enable us to have elections of the officials of the society so that we can strengthen transparency and openness in the society.

As far as the board is concerned, transparency is key and how the 35 thousand shillings X the twenty odd members of the society has been spent and services to the clients of their preferred vehicle for the subsidy, well they can help.

But our need for meeting is not all sinister: there is great value in meeting your peers and hearing them say, “you are not alone – me too”

Internal gripe: Outsourcing society failing us

Yes, without further ado, I start with my main gripe of the month. It has been growing for months now and now the cup overfloweth.

In a nutshell, the Kenya Business Process Outsourcing and Contact Centre Society rates according to mr. maneno (myself) as the worst imitation of a society ever to grace this earth. Ok. Strong beginning, I know so let us start slowly.

I joined the KBPOCC as I think the acronyms are (at the hefty price of kshs. 35,000 – which for a start up is no joke) because i believe and in my past experiences as an accountant and a project manager, societies are crucial. As a matter of fact, this particular society would be very important in my view because i would expect it to open doors for me in places that i couldn’t, i would expect that it would develop my capacity as a bpo operator, and that it would link me to other like minded operators and with clients.

My experience on joining was that I had the chairman and another member of the executive start by selling me some @magic software in their company capacity of course, with the solemn promise that if i did, i would be assured work for sure – the investment outlay for the software was in excess of kshs. 3 million at the end of the day. Thankfully i did not go into that because i sought advice from good operators who told me i don’t need to spend that kind of money.

But I joined the society even though the integrity of the executive had hints of doubt in my mind and set up my business.

Since then, I have not had one word from that society and its executive. I have not seen where my money and that of the other members has gone. I have heard that people went for trips – e.g. outsource world conference last year etc. but not once has the society invited me to join. Only members of the executive went – facilitated by the Kenya ICT Board (by the way).

Even in local events such as the Aitec Conference at the end of last year, we saw their businesses – Skyweb Evan (Chairman’s), Oriak Digital (Treasurer – who by the way was fully sponsored by the board to have a stand as a needy SME – as was I) and others. Interestingly, there was no KBPOCC stand in sight. It was there at the beginning but since they put up nothing some small time BPO guys from Kimathi took it over.

Speaking of that stands business: you would think that the BPO society would call for entries telling us that the stands were up for grabs. But such as it was, the society executive was asleep right through. The ad caling for entries was the Kenya ICT Board’s, the stands were sponsored by the board and even during the event, we had Al Kags of the Kenya ICT Board, Eunice Kariuki (deputy CEO in charge of marketing) and even Paul Kukubo (the CEO of the Board) checking up on us and finding out how we were fairing. Not once did the executives come and check on us. We saw them imbibing info at the conference networking heavily.

The Board organised for filming by the Kenya Film guys, brought the international guests around – more than once Al Kags brought people over to the stands and introduced them to us – one of whom actually became a good lead for my business! I never did thank them for the hard work they did.

If one looked at the presentation that the Kenya ICT Board had at their stand, the level of preparedness and organisations write down to a carpet and lush sofas which they made available to us for one-on-one meetings, one is clear that the board is taking us places. One is inclined to believe PS Ndemo when he said last year that the government is pulling out all stops to make outsourcing a reality. It is that level of commitment that we saw at the conference and expo that makes us want to work hard to build the industry.

By contrast, the Society executive  – even with the 35k i had paid them and others – did nothing. They didn’t even try.

A few days after the conference, the Kenya ICT Board organised for a workshop at Safari Park hotel, where they got us to meet people from Call Street – a big time outsourcing client from the USA. Their VP, Mwangi Wamae gave us invaluable tips and even helped us to get started with the applications and some of us got jobs. Was the Society represented? No.

This year, as the country has gone through tough times, we have seen hard times as clients pull out. A functioning society would at the very least be seen to communicate the strength of the society and the continued viability of the industry. Who do I hear? Paul Kukubo of the board on Capital FM talking about things we are doing to safe guard and market ourselves even with the difficulty. I see him at various forums emphathising with the industry – for example lately KIF luncheon (organised by KIF)

Even worse, it emerges that the software that those executives led by the chair and the work attached to it was a hoax and people actually lost money going for it.

i recently went to South Africa and learnt that our society could form partnerships with them to share networks and capacity resources and such – Ditto: UK society and others. Guess what. Society has done nothing about it.

I could go on. and I probably will. But these guys have to if we are to remain credible. Thats my position and I am sticking to it.

What this Blog is about

This blog is a blog by me: Call me Mr. Maneno. I work in the outsourcing industry in Kenya – having my own operations about 30 seats, not too old and starting to thrive. This is my gripe blog as well as my thoughts blog. I’m hoping that other outsourcing people will feel like commenting on the issues i raise and that they will find it relevant.

more importantly, I would like to post the sort of information that many of us in the industry need to speak out on but have difficulty doing so because of exposure and such like issues. As a 45 year old man, this work of blogging is new so all protocols observed and all that.

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