Saturday, October 4, 2008

Kenya’s top 100 mid-sized firms get the accolades

Deputy Prime Minister and minister for Local Government Musalia Mudavadi (left) presents a trophy to Cellulant chief executive officer Ken Njoroge who scooped the first prize in the Top 100 mid-size Company of the Year awards at the Carnivore grounds in Nairobi on Friday night. Photo/FREDRICK ONYANGO. 

By Joseph Bonyo
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Kenya’s top mid-sized companies were celebrated Friday evening at a colourful gala dinner.

Initiated by regional multimedia giant, Nation Media Group, and business advisory firm, KPMG, the winners of the Top 100 Survey were finally unveiled.

They range from traditional manufacturing to new economy firms, underlining great enterprise and innovation in the middle order of Kenyan business.

Presiding at the function, Deputy Prime Minister and also the Local Government minister Musalia Mudavadi advised local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to focus on better service delivery.

Small and medium businesses, he noted, were critical to the country’s economic growth and contributed about 38 per cent of the nation’s wealth.

“They are a vital link in the economy through their supply chain and intermediary role in trade. Therefore, they should strive to increase the level of goods and service delivery as well as job creation,” Mr Mudavadi said.

Country’s wealth

Firms were cited for their participation and contribution to the economy. A total of 502 firms entered the Top 100 Survey which was carried out by research firm, Steadman Group, in a process that culminated in the nomination of the 100 best-run companies.

Cellulant Kenya Limited, a mobile technology firm, emerged the best-run company according to the survey. Software developer, Techbiz Limited, was second in the rankings while the local shop of South African (information and communications technology) ICT firm, Dimension Data, sealed the top three slots.

Statistics show that small and medium sized businesses contribute over 75 per cent of the country’s wealth and provide over 80 per cent of the jobs in Kenya. Even then, data on such businesses has remained scanty, making it difficult to measure their real impact, a deficiency that the survey is to address.

“In the survey, we realised that there are still a number of bottlenecks that hinder the growth of the sector.

The state of infrastructure in the country and the numerous licenses needed to set up business needs to be looked into with a view to improving the current states,” noted Mr Richard Ndung’u, KPMG’s chief executive officer.

The annual survey is open to businesses with an annual turnover of between Sh70 million and Sh1 billion. A three-year audited track record was another condition for entry.

The survey is, however, closed to banks and insurance firms. Of the initial entrants, half made it to the second round whose focus was financial health. It was from this group that the top 100 winners were selected.

The pioneering survey will be run on a yearly basis, allowing qualifying companies one-year membership of the Kenya Top 100 Club. The study offers the firms a chance to compete based on their ability to create wealth and become industry role models.

“When we hold the survey next year, we want to invite you here as role models to a new group that you will mentor as members of the Top 100 Club. We look forward to see you graduate,” said Mr Linus Gitahi, chief executive officer of Nation Media Group.

The study borrows from the Most Respected Company Award, that on its part puts focus on large businesses and is based on a study in which the CEOs are respondents. Study results showed that 83 per cent of the participating firms were wholly Kenyan owned, 13 per cent partially owned and the remaining four per cent owned by foreigners.

“Trends in the world today call for home-grown multinationals, which are the drivers of their economies. You should strive to achieve this and move the competition beyond the East African Community region,” added Mr Gitahi.

Apart from the top 100 awards, special recognition was also given to firms and individuals that had unique characteristics observed in the survey.

Ms Jennifer Barassa, chief executive officer, Top Image, was declared the Leading Lady Entrepreneur while Mr Ken Njoroge of Cellulant Kenya was named the Entrepreneur of the Year. Farmland Company was recognised as a top rural enterprise, while Cellulant Kenya received both the Pinnacle award and the Information Communication and Technology Champion award.

Jetlink Express, an aviation firm, won the transport industry award, as Alexander Forbes was crowned the best in financial services. Hass Consultant won recognition in the service industry, Kamili Packers in the manufacturing industry.

Other special awards went to Kencall EPZ limited and Linksoft Telecom Network as the fastest growing companies. Dimension Data was awarded the best cash management firm and Interconsumer Product Limited as the best in shareholders value.

The survey also revealed that a number of prominent features that characterise medium sized companies were the family ownership structures. But according to Mr Gitahi, the enterprises needed to open up to increase their chances of competition.

“You should now think about opening up your business to utilise the resources that are available out of the family. Not all professionals to run the business can be found within the family and this also increases your chances of competing globally,” Mr Gitahi advised the businessmen.

The top ten firms:
1.) Cellulant
2.) Techbiz
3.) Dimension Data
4.) Hass Consultant
5.) Ovidian Advertising and Design.
6.) Magnet Ventures
7.) Chemoquip.
8.) Elris Communication Services.
9.) Master Power Systems.
10.) Top Image.

Partners in the survey included technology firm UUNET Kenya, GroFin East Africa and Business Partners International as well as Standard Chartered Bank.

Others include the Kenya Private Sector Alliance and Kenya Association of Manufacturers.

The Ministry of Industrialisation was also involved closely in the running of the survey.

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