I was asked to write a piece on Kenyan Tech Entrepreneurs by the owner of this blog (who I follow on Twitter). He asked me to write this post based on the dialog I’d been having with other Kenyan tech people on Twitter.
My dialog with many of the Kenyan tech people, usually involved my asking them about revenues because I got tired (quite frankly) of reading about the illusions (or should I say delusions) of grandeur.
In most of the tweets I’d read, they’d be showing off about some conference that they’d either attended or were about to attend. Like do I really care? Then, they’d talk about how “exhausted” they were from either attending those numerous conferences or because they’d been up all night “coding” and it is here that I want to address my point about revenues.
At the end of the day, technology, like most other things in life, is not a theoretical concept (unless of course you’re an Ivory Tower academic who has no interest in practical realities). Technology should be practical, it should address a need in the market and if it does that, you should eventually earn revenue’s from your invention or creation.
So, I asked myself this question: What exactly are these Kenyan tech people doing? What are they creating? I haven’t seen anything on the market that they’ve created (no Skype, no twitter, no blog platforms, no databases, etc, etc) — So, who wants to hear about your never ending attendance record at these strange conferences?
If you’re up all night coding and you’re creating nothing and making no money doing it, what on earth is the point of your exercise?
Then, I turn around and start talking about Elance — A website that allows you to hire programmers from all over the world. In the years I’ve been using Elance, I have yet to see a Kenyan based programmer or web developer on there (and that is one platform where if you think your coding skills are that good – you could immediately start offering your skills to people who are willing to pay for them.
So, after reading their Tweets, I started “un-following” many of them because I got tired of their hot air.
I don’t understand why people don’t get it: Money (or revenues) are validation of your work because it tells you that if someone is willing to pay you for your invention, they have made a determination that what you have created is worth it to them. If on the other hand, you can never sell what you have created, then that should also tell you something and it is this: You have developed a pile of cow shit that nobody is willing to pay for and you have to go back to the drawing board and make something real.
I go through the same arguments when people try to tell me about the Kenyan economy. What economy? Outside of the land, they make nothing. The two primary sources of income for Kenya come from the land. 1) Farming and 2) Tourism (tourism is God’s gift to countries, you don’t have to make anything to become a desirable “destination” — The wildlife is from God, the tropical climate is from God, the beaches..kila kitu). Nothing is made.
Capitalism is not about illusions. It’s about creating real things for real people and if you’re not doing that, then you just end up fooling yourself.
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