Emerging Markets in Kenya: OnFrontiers Expert Q&A
Thirty Engineer-Mbuthia is the CEO and Lead Consultant at Thirty Engineer Consulting and an adjunct professor of marketing at Strathmore University in Nairobi, Kenya.
She spent 18 years doing pharmaceutical marketing and communications for GlaxoSmithKline based out of Nairobi and oversaw business in eight other countries in East Africa.
She can advise clients on the pharmaceutical industry in East Africa and other service sectors such as banking and hospitality.
What are you most passionate about?
Marketing. I believe with marketing skills you can actually take a country like Kenya, if not the whole continent, to the next level.
How do you use marketing to change a country’s fortunes?
We need to make potential investors know this is really fertile ground for investment. Marketing can be the foundation to do all that.
What are some current investment opportunities in Kenya?
The education sector. Kenyans are very hungry for education – particularly from foreign countries. There is a sector of the population that sends their children abroad to study, but there is also another group who would like to access that education, but don’t have the funds to do that.
I think the opportunity is two-fold: To either come and set-up shop with a physical campus within the country or to offer courses online that would be easily accessible to people.
What other sectors do you see opportunity in?
Healthcare. There is a big need for low-cost, quality healthcare.
There is a big gap between the private institutions and the costs they charge and the public institutions and the quality of their services and facilities. That gap provides an opportunity for an investor to come in, assess the market and see how they can provide good quality, but relatively low-cost, health care.
The population is there and they would be willing to pay out-of-pocket provided it is within the range they can afford. The challenge is to provide healthcare service to the middle part of the wealth scale – not the bottom, but somewhere in the middle.
What is the next big thing in the sub-Saharan region?
The digital space is just scratching the surface. With more and more people just getting stable access to the Internet – the digital revolution is just taking place here now.
The problem is that there are nowhere near enough trained professionals in that area. Everyone claims to be a digital expert, and yet they have absolutely no working knowledge of what goes on. As long as you can get a website together, you are considered a guru on the matter.
So another big challenge – and potential opportunity – is getting people up to speed in terms of skill-set and training. For companies looking to invest in education or hands-on training, that space could be very interesting. Huge portions of advertising budgets are now being dedicated to digital space and that trend is only expected to continue.
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Featured image courtesy of Mahlatini (https://www.mahlatini.com).
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