As the country continues to witness a slower than anticipated business recovery process from the post-election mayhem and with the global economic crisis posing many challenges, I believe that strategic, innovative and collaborative initiatives would improve sustainable business practices in Kenya.

In my opinion our greatest asset, which we have under-estimated in Kenya, is our human resource. Your employees are a vital tool in a competitive business environment and especially when the going gets ‘tough’. One’s positive attitude towards them, sustained by open communication channels, will instill confidence both internally and externally. This goes a long way in empowering staff to help management achieve the organization’s goals.

Remaining customer focused, now more than ever before, provides and adds value. Not only is a high quality product desired, but exceptional customer service must accompany it. The winning companies in 2009 will be the brands that offer exceptional value and service.

To ensure sustainable competitiveness, a concerted effort and approach is needed to reduce costs without compromising on the quality of the product or service. A key challenge then will be to ensure that education, training and capacity-building of your employees remains a strategic priority thus enhancing productivity.

Maintaining focus on long term business objectives and goals, even during challenging financial times is vital to remain successful. Nothing will damage the business more than short sightedness during these challenging times. One must ensure that every decision, improvement or cutback fits into the business strategy and benefits the organization as a whole, not just now but in the future too.

One of the most detrimental mistakes businesses make is to cut back their marketing activities during periods of economic slowdown. The reality however is that marketing needs to be more aggressive and comprehensive right now than ever. A business must ensure that marketing activities are cost-effective, efficient and diversified as the economic climate, people’s concerns, lifestyle and priorities often change accordingly.

Also, a company’s cash flow is its ‘life blood’ and the ‘knock-on’ effect of the economic down turn could result in cash flow crisis. One must therefore be vigilant, closely monitor and be pro-active in cash flow forecasts and decision making.

I believe that the current economic downturn should be viewed as a learning opportunity with the recognition that yesterday’s thinking and strategies will not address today’s challenges. This is the challenge that motivates me and my teams to get closer to our customers, reassess their direction, and take action on new and creative ways of providing the highest standard of our products and services.