The importance of Open and Clear Communication for Tech Start Ups in Kenya
This article was written by Elizabeth Cook, the Managing Director, Tell em PR
Even though we experience change every day, we don’t like it. Our brains are wired to seek familiarity and predictability. This preference for the known stems from our evolutionary history, where familiarity often equated to safety and survival. Our ancestors relied on patterns and routines to navigate their environments and avoid potential threats. As a result, our brains developed a bias towards the familiar, as it provided a sense of security and reduced the need for constant adaptation.
The amygdala, a small almond-shaped structure in the brain, plays a significant role in our resistance to change. It is responsible for processing emotions, particularly fear and anxiety. When faced with change, the amygdala perceives it as a potential threat, triggering a fear response. This response activates the fight-or-flight mechanism, leading to feelings of discomfort and resistance.
The speed of change has increased, especially with technology and Kenya has seen huge advancements over the last decade and even though these changes have paved the way for greater ease, comfort and efficiency in our lives, we still become nervous when we see great change ahead on the horizon.
Currently Kenya ranks among the top three African countries for startup activity, along with South Africa and Nigeria. As we end 2023, there are over 300 active tech start ups in Kenya, with over 30% of the start-ups in Kenya being in the fintech space. As we see new tech companies entering Kenya, it’s only natural that we will question – “Will these changes be good for us, will they benefit us?”
As Kenya continues to position itself as a hub for technological innovation in Africa, it is crucial for tech companies to enter the market with a clear understanding of their objectives. Establishing trust and collaboration with the government and key audiences is essential for long-term success. Communication and education are vitally important to eradicate the fear of uncertainty and change.
Tech companies must prioritize building trust with the Kenyan government to navigate regulatory frameworks and foster a conducive business environment. Open and transparent communication channels should be established to ensure that both parties understand each other’s objectives and concerns. Engaging in dialogue with government officials, policymakers and regulatory bodies will help tech companies align their operations with local laws and regulations, fostering a mutually beneficial relationship.
Tech companies entering Kenya should actively seek collaboration with local stakeholders to ensure their initiatives align with the country’s development goals. By partnering with government agencies, educational institutions and local businesses, tech companies can contribute to the growth of the digital ecosystem while addressing societal challenges. Collaborative efforts can focus on areas such as digital literacy programs, job creation and supporting local startups, fostering inclusive economic growth.
To gain the trust of key audiences, tech companies must clearly communicate their objectives and how they plan to achieve them. This includes being transparent about data privacy, security measures and ethical practices. By proactively addressing concerns related to data protection and cybersecurity, tech companies can build credibility and ensure that their operations align with the expectations of Kenyan consumers and regulators.
Entering the Kenyan market as a tech company requires a strategic approach that prioritizes trust, collaboration and transparency. So how does a company do this? The first step is to really understand the local market, What makes it tick? What drives the local economy? What are the road blocks, challenges and opportunities and what relationships are absolutely crucial and who do you need to have on side?
Next is to package your intentions and business in a straight forward and easy to understand way and this can be difficult for tech startups who often use heavily techbased language or jargon. The KISS rule Keep It Simple is crucial. We have designed workshop packages and presentations for new companies launching in the Kenyan market that are purely based on education. The aim of the workshop is to build understanding and address the problems the new company is trying to solve and then to show the benefits for the Kenyan market.
Without open and clear communication, we risk having a tech knowledge deficit and Kenya’s place as a tech innovator will be at stake. Key stakeholders and regulators also need to be open to change and willing to understand and learn how the 21st century is shaping up globally and locally. We don’t want to be left behind because we were too afraid of uncertainty and change.
Communication and local knowledge of the key regulator and government landscape is key in Kenya. Understanding the reluctance for change, as well as communicating the benefits of change, will be given a sharper focus in the years ahead as our world becomes more tech and AI focused.