‘Meet the Boss’ is a How we made it in Africa interview series where we pose the same 10 questions to business leaders across the continent.
Gavin Bell, general manager, Kuku Foods Kenya (franchise holder of KFC in East Africa)
1. What was your first job?
My first job was running a tented safari camp in Nairobi. That was the time when there were lots of foreign visitors coming to Kenya including the late Pope John Paul II. A lot of hotels were full and someone decided to set up a tented camp. I was paid KSh. 5,000 a month. That was in 1985.
2. Who has had the biggest impact on your career and why?
My father. He ensured that whatever I did, I did with integrity and to the best of my ability.
3. What parts of your job keep you awake at night?
Lots of things. Mainly business stress – thinking about what needs to be done and deadlines.
4. What are the top reasons why you have been successful in business?
Success is measured in many different ways. I have had my successes and failures in life, however, I would relate my success to doing things with utmost integrity and to never compromise myself.
5. What are the best things about Kenya?
Firstly, the Kenyan people, and then the wildlife and the countryside.
6. And the worst?
Crime and blatant corruption.
7. Your future career plans?
I would like to see our business (KFC franchise in East Africa) grow and become a reassuring force and benchmark for future generations in the East African region.
8. How do you relax?
I fish. I go fishing when I can up the Aberdares and Mt. Kenya. I also spend time with my kids, it is definitely the most relaxing thing I like to do … when I am not able to fish.
9. What is your message to Africa’s young aspiring business people and entrepreneurs?
Do things to the best of your ability with complete integrity. Don’t compromise yourself to gain a quick buck – it never works! Think big and go for it and most of all … be positive, passionate and persistent.
10. How can Africa realise its full potential?
By identifying the strengths in its people and giving people the opportunity to set their strengths into society. Move the old guard aside and let the young and brighter element of Kenyan business and public sector society come through.
Gavin Bell is a veteran restaurateur and general manager of Kuku Foods Kenya, the franchise holder of KFC in East Africa. Bell has over 25 years experience as manager and entrepreneur in the hospitality industry.