Podcasts, Power Law and Nairobi’s Academic Freelancers

Hello and M’bolani.

M’bolani is how you greet people in Cameroon.

Welcome back.

September has been interesting so far and has featured a few events. The month saw Nendo join the UN Global Compact Kenya family - which is a network that supports UNGC’s ten principles on human rights, labour, environment and anticorruption. We’re very excited about the feature and look forward to more partnerships.

With that said, let’s get into the week’s latest insights:

What to Sip < 30 sec

Have you ever wondered why certain media personalities seem to constantly remain on top while a similarly talented underdog never seems to catch a break? Michael Tauberg explains this as the Power Law and illustrates his point through an extensive list of graphs. While they may initially look daunting, the concept behind them is quite fascinating, especially when it comes to ranking top musicians and movies.

The African podcasting Festival is due to start in March 2020. In response, Melissa Mbugua and the team at MNM circulated a small poll on their Twitter and Whatsapp groups that resulted in a general overview of what Kenyans listen to. While the report did not cover a majority of the population, it definitely sheds some light on what the market is ready for.

What to Nibble < 5 min

Photo by Pixabay

This next article may remind you of those long nights putting together essays in school. A new NYT story by Farrah Stockman and Carlos Mureithi unpacks how Kenyans have made a cottage industry of writing top-grade papers and assignments for American college students. Yes, it is cheating (on the American side), but isn’t it also economic empowerment (on the African side)? After all, there are people who are working hard and getting good money as a result.

One person in the comment section has an interesting point of view. He says, “An indispensable skill in today’s world is the ability to successfully delegate. I applaud these students for getting their projects executed in a professional and timely manner. Carry on.”

What do you think? Let us know here.

The freelance industry also opens a huge debate on the current role of education and how universities can easily turn into degree mills. As one commenter says, “The demand by our society is for credentials, not expertise; branding, not quality.”

Speaking of the youth, there are two views that are very welcome after our Wamlambez feature. Our friends at Odipo Dev put out a piece on Algorithms and the New Wave of Kenyan Music. Building on that, the inimitable Christine Mungai pens her thoughts on twerking being a form of rebellion and resistance by youth in society.

Here she takes us on a journey from Atlanta’s Freaknik all the way to the rise of 'ratchetness'. She also touches on the time a disgruntled Generation Y exposed Gen Zers who were breaking social norms on Twitter. The outrage and conversations that followed needed unpacking, which Christine skillfully does.


What to Bite <10 min

A few months ago, we were invited to FSD to see some work that they were doing with a firm called Citibeats. Rafe Mazer and Dan Onchienku (a Nendo alum) both put together the final report and it makes for good reading. The report questions the standards that banks and fintechs are held to considering the number of Kenyans online who have expressed negative experiences with customer service.

Because Nendo looks at hundreds of millions of comments, complaints and compliments across a number of brands, it was interesting to see the report align with work that we uncovered years ago in our inaugural banking report.

Photo from Pexels

Speaking of banking, I was recently at a roundtable with executives from South Africa’s Nedbank Group and seeing how they were thinking about the evolution of finance was interesting. Tyme Bank and Discovery Bank specifically, are two brands that I’m watching closely.

Tyme promise, as a “fully digital bank” to require no documents, no monthly fees and an open account in 5 minutes using smart kiosks and a mobile app. Discovery brings their behavioural insurance learnings to the banking sector through their concepts on rewarding customers and incentivising them to practice “behavioural banking.” They’re both bringing business models that challenge convention and bring a new value proposition to the table.

Links A La Carte


We’re renaming the 'Bottom of the Newsletter' section to 'Links a la carte'. Like much in this newsletter, we hope you sample from the menu and try whatever suits your taste.

  • Facebook is headed back to having humans curate its news feed.
  • Here’s what it means to go incognito in the age of surveillance (by Al Jazeera’s The Listening Post)
  • A Kenyan graduate student at MIT was among the first to speak up in the complicated case of Jeff Epstein and the MIT Media Lab.
  • Speaking of school kids, this made me smile.
  • Tricia Wang’s talk on how you DON’T own the voice of the customer provokes a new take on what it means to measure what customers think. Be sure to watch her talk on “Thick Data vs. Big Data” - I’ve quoted it at least 3 times in the last week.
  • My brother is based in Japan and introduced me to the idea of ‘Honne and Tatemae’. This shares a point of view on how information should flow in an organisation. Basically, honne represents the things you know and tatemae represents the things that you feel safe to say.
  • You can now order your Little cab via Whatsapp. All you need to do is text your location pin to the number and watch it automate everything else.

You can always reach me and the team by hitting reply (I’m a bit behind on responses, but we do read them and do our best to write back and share a response).

Until next time, Mark and Team Nendo

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