Bottom up economic model is not any new invention . The million $$$ question is how you choose to practice it.
First things first ..corruption will kill bottoms up economic model and any other model for that matter.
When banks were busy closing branches in late 90s ostensibly to get rid of unprofitable banks in smaller towns , one bank was quietly taking their place and that bank was none other than Equity Bank Kenya . It’s simple law of science , no vacuum is left.
When mobile telephone companies were licensed in Kenya , Kencel now Airtel was quick off the starting block and mobile lines were going for Ksh 200,000 and it became a status symbol. Bar waiters and barmen had to provide an extra glass for the phone owner to show the world that he indeed owned a mobile phone . This was real not some urban tales. We had true ninjas then.
When scratch cards were introduced it was in Ksh 1000 denomination because the poor Kenyan was not in the equation . How can mama mboga or a shoe shiner own a mobile phone ? They were considered then too poor to own a phone .
For banks NARC government decided they wont compete with Wanjiku to borrow from banks and that happened as soon as Kibaki took office in 2003. Banks were now left with ordinary Kenyans and remember Dr Mwangi had already positioned Equity in all the small towns where other bigger banks had fled because a client in muddy farm gumboots or some sweaty wakulima trader was not a cool customer.
On the mobile telephony side , Safaricom PLC was hived off that dinosaur KPTC hence their slow entry but again how many recall that when we accuse Safaricom of being a dominant player. Its natural to criticize when a firm does well but Safaricom worked hard to get where they are.
Safaricom invented Mpesa and guess who worked hard 24/7 to stop them ? Same banks who quit the so called small towns but glad that then acting Finance Minister John Michuki and CBK Governor Ndungu waved play on.
For banks many had to struggle to try and get their old premises back and it was a common phenomenon to see banks setting up tents at bus stops pleading to the same small man they left high and dry to come back and reopen a bank account Sunday wanjiku had many suitors.
On the other hand Safaricom decided to offer scratch card as low as Ksh 100 then Ksh 50 then Ksh 20 then known as blue and finally okoa jahazi was born. Michael Joseph and late Bob Collymore truly practiced what it means trading with the folks at the bottom of the pyramid and by empowering them that is nothing but bottoms up economy.
At goverment level bottom up economy is already in place, what is Huduma centre ? Where the masses can acess most service on the digital platform and in addition to the centers the e-citizen where from the comfort of home i can acess most services. Renewing my driving licenses without stepping out of my office is indeed amazing.
Even a more powerful indicator is about public funds . When you allocate Ksh140 million per MP per constituency per year Ksh 700Million in five years and Ksh 1.4B in 10 years . Folks Ksh 140M that is a cool $1.3million a year which is alot of money. I have seen what my MP HonMohammed Ali has been able to achieve in under 3 years or look at what Late Kibra MP delivered in his very short stint.
Each woman rep is also getting on average Ksh 7 Milion per constituency so a county like Nairobi the women rep gets more than an MP who runs CDF while Governors some handle Ksh11B + a year and then of course national goverment.
CK Prahald in his book “The fortune at the bottom of the pyramid” delves deep on how you can trade with the citizens at the bottom of the pyramid and in the process eradicate poverty and even make profits.
Succesful Safaricom has not been made successful by post paid subscribers but by prepaid subscribers. Last stats was that 85% of their subscribers were indeed pre paid so when Bob Collymore was spending more time in the slums and working with artists he knew what he was doing and in the process empowering the man and woman at the bottom of the pyramid.
When Safaricom decided to pick the lady lamenting about the floods in western Kenya in one of their ads they knew she was the face of the bottom of the pyramid who in turn help push the economy from the bottom. They stood with her not through handout but turning her into one of their brand ambassadors. While the rest of Kenyans found the plight of the lady hilarious and funny, Safaricom were seeing their customer in distress and in the process she ended up on billboards and she was a guest in our homes on our TV sets just before prime time news . Give it to Safaricom they know how to connect with the man or woman at the bottom of the pyramid.
Bottom up model in private sector is very much alive and kicking, even the consumer goods packed in smaller quantities so called kadogo economy is bottom up model and trading with the folks at the bottom of the pyramid.
The bad news is that bottom up in public sector wont work as long as we dont slay the corruption dragon and our wasteful habits. It is one thing to shout bottom up economic model but you must chose to walk Equity or Safaricom path to make it happen.
As a start please start with your local MP shouting himself or herself hoarse “Bottom up” on how they have utilised the half a billion shillings in the last 4 years or even Ksh 1 billion for those who are serving a 2nd term.
To Equity Bank Kenya Safaricom PLC and My MP Mohammed Ali I salute you for making it happen right at the bottom of the pyramid . Our political class must study Equity and Safaricom model but as they do that they must drop the corruption gown at the door.
Corruption is the enemy of Bottom Up economy and any other economic model for that matter
Well as always I choose to remain an optimist.
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