Monday, June 30, 2008


Toronto has a population of around 5m. Yet today it runs a double-decker transit system (i.e. train system) for its 1m daily passengers. If you ever traveled on the transport in London and specifically the underground (tube) and overland trains between 7-9am and 4-7pm, you'd appreciate how visionary it is for Canadians to build their system with double-deckers carriages in 1919. In London today, the solution of catering for almost 3m passengers a day has been to build completely new railway lines, a much more expensive venture.

A visionary is described as someone who sees into a future that doesn't presently exist. Some of the visions could be utopia, others can be grounded. A nation, a business, a church, a club and even in the different facets of our lives as individuals, all need a vision. So much so that the Bible is categorical, "without a vision, the people perish". A good analogy is setting off from your home without knowing where you are going.

At a national level, we have lots of examples of visionaries. In modern times , General Macarthur started with post-WW2 Japan, a new type of leadership, but effectively, Lee Kuan Yew in Singapore was the first to do this as native of his nation. Lee was Prime Minister of Singapore for 31 years until 1990, but completely transformed it from a 3rd world developing nation to a 1st world developed nation complete with nation ethics. His was visionary leadership that realised two things. Not everybody knew what it took to become a developed nation and even if they did those who needed convincing would take up too much time and energy. 2ndly, and more importantly he need to do and was able to carry Singaporeans with his vision. His visionary leadership has been copied successfully by Deng Xiapong and the communist leadership in China; Mahathir in Malaysia and lately Kagame inRwanda.

At company-level, Henry Ford, Bill Gates, Toyoda and even our own Equity's Peter Munga and James Mwangi have been visionaries who have transformed industries and of course their own companies.
At club level, James Gachui had this to say about why they founded TC.
At individual level, we have people like Alexander Bell (father of the modern telephone), the Wrights Brothers, Steve Jobs.
What these visionaries/visions have in common is ability to extrapolate the present into the future and focus on achieving and bringing that future into being. It gives what they do a direction.

So do you have a vision? What is your vision as investors? Does Kenya have a vision (in my humble opinion, we have 5 yrs to get our institutions right otherwise it'll take a Kagame-type visionary to get us on the right path)? Does anybody in Kenya have a vision of its future?

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