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With current conversations about climate change, deforestation, and the finite nature of natural resources, sustainability is on the minds of consumers, investors, and corporations.

But more than that, it’s also in our hands.

1.1 Hectares of Indigenous Trees

In an effort to help reforestation efforts in Kenya, Software Technologies Limited participated in a tree planting activity together with the Kenya Forest Service, Uplands CFA and the area Chief at Uplands Forest Station in Kiambu County where over 1.1 hectares of assorted indigenous trees were planted.

The Area Chief of the Uplands area highlighted that:

  1. Trees clean the air.
  2. Trees sequester around 20% of the carbon in the atmosphere (carbon contributes to climate change).
  3. Trees help clean the water. It actually is like a filter when there’s heavy rain. Trees absorb the water and release it gradually.
  4. Trees help with soil erosion.
  5. Trees have a social impact on it in terms of employment and life (1.6 billion people on this planet are somehow connected to forests for their livelihood).
  6. Trees are home to 80% of the world’s biodiversity (on land).

We lose about 46-58 thousand square miles of forest each year. Not for nothing—a large portion of those trees are turned into the products we buy and use every day. However, this would be unsustainable without active reforestation efforts, especially when you consider how long it takes for a tree to grow and mature.

“To waste, to destroy our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them amplified and developed.”
― Theodore Roosevelt

The annual AVCA Conference is the largest private equity gathering globally, attracting investors who collectively manage over US$1.5trn in assets. Over the past 16 years, the AVCA conference has become the most important forum for promoting, developing, and stimulating private investment in Africa. The conference continues to be a rallying beacon, shedding light on the vast opportunities available to global investors, and guiding the industry with informative research and thought leadership.

Starting in 2003 in Cameroon, AVCA has held conferences in Botswana, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Morocco, Senegal, South Africa, and Tunisia, with the goal of exposing investors to the diverse prospective investment markets across the continent.

The 16th Annual AVCA Conference was held in Nairobi, Kenya. Given its rising regional influence, Kenya is an increasingly attractive investment destination. AVCA’s data shows that Kenya is ranked the 2nd most attractive country for PE investments in Africa over the next three years.

As AVCA continued to showcase the fastest growing countries in the world to investors, Software Technologies was honoured to be sponsors with our Operations Director, Mr. Chets Mukherjee, speaking on a panel with Dean Alborough of OMAI, Hatim Ben Ahmed of Mediterranean Capital Partners and  Sandrine Henton of @EGF_Educate on exploring how ESG integration can be aligned with country-level SDGs.

In 1991, Jyoti Mukherjee opened an information and technology firm with her eyes set on developing patent software. This seemed a herculean task at the time, but looking back at the enterprise’s journey one would be correct to say hers was an idea worth every effort.  About two decades later, the company is forging a unique path, and giving the big boys in the sector a run for their money.

 

Software Technologies Limited (STL) started off with a capital base Sh300,000 and only two computers. However, over the years it has grown into company that develops original software and no longer sells third-party products.  “Everything we develop is our own intellectual property. We are basically able to adapt to the local challenges because it is our software,” Chets Mukherjee, the operations director and one of Jyoti’s children, told Enterprise.

 

STL mainly develops software in three core areas — human resource, people and governance. Chets says the company only develops software for the areas it has domain knowledge. Chets’ mother, a former chief executive officer of the company and a governance expert, laid the foundation for the three areas that has seen STL witness tremendous growth over the years and has remained strong and resilient in an environment where start-ups face a myriad of challenges with a good number of them shutting their doors before their fifth birthday.

 

The company currently has 100 staff — all Kenyans except one expatriate — who mostly train students in the firm’s educational subsidiary, Software Training Institute. Chets says that the lack of graduates with practical and up-to-date skills that form the core of any software developer compelled the company to establish the educational facility in 2004.  “We train students fresh from high school who mostly are unable to pursue their higher education.

 

The school provides us with ready talent pool,” he told Enterprise. The school trains between 200 and 300 students annually with the top five every year assured of employment at the Software Technologies Limited. Scores of others go on to join some of STL’s corporate clients and others have obtained opportunities in foreign companies, including those in the United States, UK, Germany and Australia.

 

Safaricom, the Kenya Pipeline Company, Equity, Commercial Bank of Africa, the Retirement Benefits Authority, the Energy Regulatory Commission and KenGen are some of the IT firm’s high-end clients. The firm recently developed its first e-board software in French targeting West Africa. This is part of the firm’s expansion plans which include set ting up an office in Mauritius to offer technical support and after-sales service to Cameroon and Ivory Coast among other nations it is targeting in the region.

 

Software Technologies has participated in Business Daily’s annual Top 100 competition for the last ten consecutive years. It was named category champion for the ICT sector at this year’s gala. The competition targets small and medium enterprises whose annual turnover is between Sh50 million and Sh1 billion. The founder of the software firm has a glittering track record of steering it into recording a number of milestones.  Amongst her notable achievements include winning the Top ICT businesswoman in Africa in 2007.

Software Technologies Ltd, Chief Executive, Jyoti Mukherjee was named a finalist for the Business Woman of the Year at All Africa Business Leaders Awards (AABLA) 2018 in a gala dinner held at Movenpick Hotel, Nairobi on Thursday, 13th September 2018.

The All Africa Business Leaders Awards (AABLA™) in partnership with CNBC Africa honours remarkable leadership and salute game changers of business on the continent for their continuing commitment to excellence, developing best practices and innovative strategies.

Jyoti was among three other finalists from Kenya; Joanne Mwangi – PMS Group, Jane Mgige Kenya – Flower Council and Joyce Gikunda – Lintons Beauty, who were nominated for the Business Woman of the Year from East Africa Region.

The Business Woman of the Year nominees were vetted by judges based on exemplifying outstanding leadership in business. Other considerations in the vetting process include: achieving positive financial results, increased shareholder value and providing sound management, proven corporate governance, demonstrating innovation, best business practices and accountability, together with intangible qualities such as integrity and vision.

The award ceremony was dominated by Kenyans who took up half of the 24 slots available with finalists being picked from a range of industries. Among the Kenyans who made it to the finalists include Group, Barclays Bank CEO Jeremy Awori, Marini Naturals Founder and CEO Michelle Ntalami and Dr. Joyce Gikunda, Lintons Beauty founder.

 

The eBoard iPad use is very intuitive and learning to use eHorizon eBoard system is quite easy. Recently, our new Company Secretary was able to capture minutes using the eHorizon eBoard system without any formal training and for the first time; our board meeting minutes were ready immediately after the meeting. Samuel Karema, Information Services Assistant – KenGen

Kenya Electricity Generating Company Limited (KenGen) with an installed capacity of 1,631MW is the leading power producer in the Eastern Africa Region. Established in 1954, the company employs over 2,500 people and commands a market share of about 69%. The key to its survival has been the ability to change with the times. And doing that requires an effective governance approach.

The company has eleven board members, seven of who are non- executives and 5 board committees with 4 -5 members each. KenGen board meets physically at least eight times a year, including a board strategy conference while its committees meet quarterly or more often in accordance with the requirement of business. The board’s lineup of meetings calls for extensive information to be generated in advance.

The Challenge

KenGen old approach to board meeting materials was to create paper-based packs that could be quite large and then deliver them physically to each board member across the country. According to the Board Services Assistant, Afline Onyango“ that added up thousands of shillings in distribution cost annually, in addition, other staff cost and time spent in collating and copying each report.

The effort needed to produce board materials occupied as many as three people with photocopying, binding and collating – in what Judith Ndegwa, Board Services Officer referred to as “a nightmare process.” “We would have the boardroom booked for 4 – 5 days to spread the papers everywhere,” she adds. On the user side, the situation was equally unmanageable. Board packs ran up to 500 pages each. And when an exceptional issue arose, like approving a prospectus or reviewing an annual report that number doubled or even tripled so that reports at times ballooned to 800+ pages. Add in papers of average 130 pages for board committee sessions held alongside the board meeting, and directors often travelled with files full of paper.

Security was also an issue when it came to paper board packs. Sometimes the packs would be left with the secretaries of Directors. Disposing copies of older papers was challenging. “A few Directors would return them for shredding while majority stored them in their houses and the company would lose track of what happened to them,” explains Samuel Karema, Information Services Assistant at KenGen.

Approach

With the effort and expense of creating paper-based board packs mounting, KenGen began an extensive research into finding the most suitable solution able to meet their needs. They vetted several solutions from leading board software providers and settled for eHorizon eBoard. What board members liked most about eHorizon eBoard was the easy to use interface combined with a single view of all aspects of the Board from Minutes & Agendas through to Director Evaluation and Compliance as well as board calendar on their iPads dashboard.

Another top priority feature KenGen was evaluating was security. They were impressed by eHorizon eBoard security standards and extensive measures of data protection, control, availability, and application security that make sure that the integrity and confidentiality of the information is maintained.

The Results

eHorizon eBoard has made life easier for the board administrators. For Judith, the flexibility of eBoard is a heaven on earth. “So often, information arrives very late and we are in a rush. We used to stay in the office until 11.00 am to review and prepare information. Now, I receive information digitally and in the comfort of my home, I can upload and update the information available on an ongoing basis then share at the click of a button and directors will be notified.” What took up to 5 days, now takes minutes with the eBoard solution.

120 Days – Number of days saved in administrative work preparing board and committee meetings packs every year, in addition to the board going green; saving 6 trees annually from eliminating the printing of 53,617 pieces of paper board packs.

Whats more, Board members have their folders arranges by session and a date making it easier to refer to previous sessions, make enquiries into changes and keep more accurate records. In addition, eBoard allows collaboration and supports better decision making. Board members have at their fingertips, the most up-to-date information for current meetings and can also readily access an archive for key papers and minutes over the last years.

Further, “the iPad use is very intuitive and learning to use it is quite easy. Recently, our new Company Secretary was able to capture minutes using the eBoard system without any formal training and for the first time; our minutes were ready immediately after the board meeting,” explains Mr Karema.

It’s also a good reference point. “Recently I was searching a circular number for the year 2015 and it was so easy to find. I just typed the date and I found it in seconds” explains Judith.

For Karema, stability is the eBoard systems main asset. One time, Judith relates, they had trouble with the passwords of some of the board members who could not get access to their eBoard app on their iPads. Karema called IT support and “it was solved in less than 10 minutes.”

 

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