‘What makes me hopeful for Africa’

Today I was stuck in a traffic jam in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, talking to the driver, Henry. His story sheds lights on what makes me hopeful for Africa as it illustrates that if one has energy and intelligence, one can, in most cases, succeed.

Henry was born in a small town in rural Kenya. He was one of the best pupils in his class, but was able to attend school only until the age of nine. Unfortunately his parents divorced and Henry was brought up by his grandmother who didn’t have much money and needed him to work.

When he was 21 Henry got married and had four children before he turned 30. He got into the taxi business where he has become the perfect driver: available, timely and resourceful.

Henry wants to make money for one key reason: to offer each of his children (three girls and one boy) access to higher education.

And he has a plan.

“In five years I will be out of the taxi business. I will be a developer,” he says.

In fact, he already is. He bought a piece of land in his home city and started building a few rooms to rent. He now owns 10 rooms which he has rented out to students and travellers, and which bring in a healthy KSh. 50,000 (US$580) a month. His plan is to build a total of 98 rooms on this piece of land and then to develop other properties.

I’ll let you do the calculations and you will understand why I believe in a bright future for Henry’s four children.

Martin Tronquit is a managing partner at Infomineo.

Infomineo is a business research company, focusing on Africa and the Middle East. The company provides its clients, including the majority of the leading global management consulting firms and several Fortune Global 500 companies, with ad hoc data on countries, markets, companies and people gathered through primary and secondary research. For more information please contact [email protected] or visit www.infomineo.com.