MEDIA, GOVERNANCE AND LIVELIHOODS

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By Mercy Kiogora

I wish to sincerely thank Asante Media for the role they have played in   providing well researched, rich information and education to the private and public sector over the past fifteen years.  Releasing quality content requires talent, skill and experience.  It also takes a lot of research into the subject matter. Still, staying focused on a vision and mission takes a lot of effort and discipline.  Asante Media has done this for the last fifteen years. 

Without media, the world would be a dull place indeed.  Human beings naturally want to know what is going on next door.  What is more, good content has a way of inspiring and building.  Many lives have been transformed by reading articles.  This is what we applaud Asante Media for.  Their print and digital magazine, BL, has consistently promoted best practice by featuring success stories of enterprises (both large and small) and enterprise leaders with the aim of educating, informing and inspiring readers.  Insights generously shared through their platforms have provided access to new business ideas, strategies, business opportunities and strategic partnerships among others. 

As Asante Media celebrates fifteen years of impact, we take stock of enterprises that have been featured in BL over the years. Through the years, some have continued to scale the heights, and increased in size; more employees, higher turn-overs and higher profits; they have transitioned from informal forms of leadership to corporate status.  On the other hand, others have failed terribly, to the disappointment of those who had believed in them.  Reason?

Why businesses fail      

There are countless reasons for failure in businesses but I wish to focus on governance, which is   simply defined as structures and processes that are designed to ensure accountability, transparency, responsiveness, rule of law, stability, equity and inclusiveness, empowerment, and broad-based participation.   In the absence of sound governance, failure is guaranteed.

Here are a few practices that contribute to poor performance and ultimate failure of enterprises:

  • Lack of long-term, strategic focus, where leaders are unable to think and act from long-term perspectives;
  • Financial mismanagement, where those entrusted with resources sweep the coffers for selfish gain;
  • Flawed human resource practices, where merit is not considered during hiring, and allocation of duty;
  • Lack of accountability structures, where nobody holds leaders to account for their decisions;
  • Resistance to change – change is the only constant in our lives.  It decimates those who resist it;
  • Unethical business practices;
  • Unchecked ambition, especially as far as expansion is concerned. Often, the bigger the better but in some situations, expansion has sucked resources from enterprises and ultimately killed them.

Case studies

I believe that all businesses that featured in BL were past the proof of concept phase and were in their growth or expansion phase.  They had high chances of survival and expansion.  But something(s) happened and sadly, they failed.  Should they be used as case studies? Maybe. 

Business failure does more damage to humans than we imagine.  Behind every business activity, there is a household with needs for livelihoods including school fees, medical care, meals, housing, clothing and many more.  When a business fails, dedicated workers lose jobs.  Customers are affected. The same goes for lenders, investors, suppliers and other indirect stakeholders.  Trust is broken and hope is lost. Dreams are shattered.   Regardless of the circumstances under which the enterprise failed, credibility and reputation of those in charge is lost.

Good governance

As we celebrate Asante Media’s achievements, let’s embrace principles of good governance.  I encourage all that have been featured in BL to review their stories and assess progress.  For those that have done well, we say congratulations.  Your work continues to impact on families.  There are meals on the table, bills are paid, and households have peace.  We pray that in your prosperity you continue to support many more. 

For those that failed, it is never too late.  As long as we are alive, there is   always a chance to learn, unlearn, relearn, restart and do things differently.  It is possible to ditch old habits and acquire new values.  It is possible to change visions and aspirations. It is even possible to revive relationships and rebuild trust.  No business leader should transition from life as a failure, as this would remain a permanent record and negative reference.

The nation needs capable business leaders, who are also courageous enough to own up to mistakes and offer remedy to them.   How else do we create jobs and give hope to our young generation?

Over to CEOs and ex-CEOs.  To Asante Media, we say asante sana.  

The writer is a financial management consultant. Give her feedback on email: mercy@imac.co.ke

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