Many instruments of business are increasingly not worth the paper they are printed on, even if created by and under the direction of legal counsel.
Transacting business in Kenya, whether with an individual, SME, corporate and even government can be a game of chance, where your enterprise is better off getting what it can right out of the gate as future payments are not assured or the effort to get it on the books leaves teams adversely worn if the business is not already tittering on closure, having hedged every possible credit line to stay afloat and servicing errant customers.
Such is the reality for many entrepreneurs and their operations regardless of their stage, where exposure can range from the thousands to billions of shillings.
While the engaging entity in most dealings is a business, registered in one of the many flavours from sole proprietor, partnership, limited liability company, public limited company to society, the core constituent and transacting unit remains a person, whether they are a founder operator or other such charged executive.
The day-to-day decisions are made by people acting for and on behalf of the business and as such the business can only be a reflection of its people, guided often by policies and procedures that are supposed to offer some level of comfort on engagement expectation.
Simply put, when your cheque bounces, or a payment cycle is not honoured it is not the business, it is the people behind the business making a very conscious decision, either to deliberately defraud or from a forced hand where business fundamentals have fallen apart.
China’s national reputation system of social credit has drawn a healthy number of critics, rightfully so; but I dare entertain its workability in a different form and model, if deployed towards measuring the trust quotient of an individual that can be referenced on demand when talking business. A ranking if you may, based on one’s immutable interactions over time with publicly accessible remediation maker-checker functionality.
For example, Mzee Y with a gleaming social standing might actually be the last person you would want to get into business with but you only find out when you get done in, or a CR12 check reveals a director composition whose metadata could flip a decision.
When personal aggregated stakes are high, behaviour ‘should’ change and maybe technology can nudge us forward along these trustless streets.