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VIDEO: Turmoil, panic at Nation Media Group as hundreds receive termination letters

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Mass lay-offs at Nation Media Group began Thursday in earnest with preliminary reports indicating deep cuts touching on a number of senior editors and managers.

Reports  paint a ruthless restructuring that will leave Nation Centre numb for some time.

Long-serving and one of the most recognizable NTV news anchors, Ken Mijungu was among the first people in the Broadcasting Division to be shown the door.

Today, the process started with the newspaper section, where 40 journalists are targeted, and management before it moves to NTV tomorrow. The big casualties so far  include Nation Newspaper Division Managing Director Francis Munywoki, partnerships & projects manager and long-serving education editor David Aduda, Business Daily Managing Editor Ng’ang’a Mbugua and Daily Nation News Editor Francis Wanyonyi Wambilianga.

Twin Tower bloodbath

Also picked on the first day of staff reorganization are editions editor Mark Agutu, agriculture editor Julius Sigei, Gabriel Chege of IT, Veronica Chirchir (HR), output editor Joe Mbuthia, Martin Mwangi (Deputy Chief Sub Editor) and Revise Editor Henry Gekonde. Nancy Ogutu, Peter Choge and Momanyi Maosa from the online department/ Nation Digital have also been shown the door.

David Aduda, who previously worked as editorial manager, is among editors who have negotiated an exit package through which they will be contracted to offer critical editorial services under NMG’s new outsourcing model.

Others are George Omondi (Business Daily, Section Editor) and Eldoret regional editor (bureau chief) Jeremiah Kiplagat. Ng’ang’a Mbugua was among editors who got promoted in January 2019, moving from Daily Nation to Managing Editor of Business Daily. Joe Mbuthia had been hoisted Production Editor/Head of Production to output editor.

Peter Choge together with Momanyi Maosa are said to have been on contracts as online sub-editors which expired and have not been renewed.

In Finance, Alex Shikami, a Senior Internal Auditor, has been kicked out. Munywoki joined NMG in November 2017 from Standard Group and had been hoped to reengineer the newspaper section to make it more profitable. Instead, the newspaper division, NMG’s flagship and cashcow, has been losing business by the week, cutting revenues and profitability.

The 40 editorial staff will continue receiving their letters up to next week. It is understood that some of people affected, especially younger ones, will be recalled starting August to work on contracts, according to discussions in yesterday’s zoom meeting. The Group is targeting to lay off over 100.

Curiously, most affected employees are male, online with NMG Group Editorial Director Mutuma Mathiu’s promise, last year, to “protect ladies” as much as he could, someone familiar with this assertion told BT.

Interesting changes are on the newsdesk. Inside Nation Centre rumors last year were that the newsdesk was dominated by Luhya editors. It’s not clear whether this happened by design or coincidence. A plan, it seems, was crafted to correct that anomaly and enhance ethnic balance on the desk. The desk has so far lost Bernard Namunane, Peter Leftie (who has since returned to The People), Lucas Barasa (now with Mandera County Government), and now Wanyonyi Wambilianga, all from the Luhya ethnic extraction. Wambilianga is said to have fallen out with Daily Nation Managing Editor Pamela Sittoni.

READ ALSO:   Ken Mijungu blasts Betty Kyallo for ‘painting Dennis Okari as irresponsible dad’

Now Harrison Misiko remains the only editor from the Luhyia community on the desk, although he is an assistant news editor. With Wambilianga’s exit the newsdesk has been left with only Misiko, after Dave Opiyo landed a job as Director Communications at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) in April this year.

The NMG editorial leadership was forced to recall Misiko who was working from home, early today, to come and man the desk, after Wambilianga was laid off.

The management says it is re-engineering the Nation Media Group to accelerate its digital transformation. In this new model, it will utilize technology more and cut down on human resource.

Those affected will receive counselling support, while those stationed outside Nairobi will be offered relocation assistance. Also, the laid-off staff will receive medical cover for a period of two months until August 31, 2020, in a rare show of magnanimity.

Thereafter, the company has negotiated a medical insurance scheme through its current provider which those affected may opt to individually join.

The layoff comes at a very tricky time when most media houses are offloading employees to survive the Covid-19 pandemic disruption. Already Mediamax has sent home nearly 100, while Royal Media Services is restructuring in a low-profile style. Standard Group is waiting for the whistle.

Small is beautiful

Suddenly, small is beautiful for a big media house with operations across East Africa.

NMG, hoping to ride the tech wave made more popular by stay-at-home protocols for stemming the spread of Covid-19, is betting big on mobile delivery of its journalism products and advertising. “This new reality necessitates the reengineering of Nation Media Group to accelerate its digital transformation,” the company’s CEO Stephen Gitagama said in a circular to staff on 1st July 2020.

“In this journey, the group seeks to be innovative, agile and adaptive with the objective to take up leadership in the mobile publishing landscape in Africa while passionately living our mission to positively transform society, by creating new value and generating quality, differentiated and engaging content to consumers, however, wherever and whenever they need it.”

The company will be concentrating its investment and human resources on new areas critical for growth. Inevitably, this will result in merging and scrapping of some sections which will in turn lead to a reduction of its workforce. “This is an extremely difficult decision in view of the prevailing circumstances,” he said.

Insiders say the company is targeting to offload more than 100 employees across its operations in East Africa, though Kenya will bear the biggest shave. Mr Gitagama says the exercise will be carried out with utmost due respect to our employees and within the Kenyan laws. “We will strive to provide all the necessary support to help them manage the transition,” he said.

READ ALSO:   Leaked screenshot of conversation between Ken Mijungu and Betty Kyallo

Moving to Mombasa Road

Nation Media Group operates print, broadcast and digital media outlets in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania, with operations in print, broadcast and digital media.

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has destabilized most businesses globally, including in Kenya. Many companies have either shutdown or substantially scaled down operations due to the drastic decline in revenues. The media industry in the country has severely been impacted.

NMG will be permanently adopting a work-at-home model implemented in March to ensure social distancing at the workplace, where a section of its workers have been working away from the office permanently.

Having some workers sacked and others working from home will reduce pressure on office space, allowing it to cut down on rent at the iconic Nation Centre, owned by its sister company Property Development Management (PDM). The board and management are considering moving the NMG offices from the city centre to its Mombasa Road printing press premises.

While a financially prudent move, working from home and away from the city centre comes with its share of challenges. Standard Group tried the out-of-town model but was forced to relocate back to the CBD after experiencing delays in getting to story subjects and press conferences. Working at home might spring coordination issues especially for reporters who are required to be ever mobile.

NMG is planning to shift to subscription based journalism after projecting that the traditional advertising business model has run its course using The New York Times as a benchmark.

“This new reality necessitates the reengineering of Nation Media Group to accelerate its digital transformation,” the company’s CEO Stephen Gitagama said in a circular to staff on 1st July 2020.

The company which runs operations across East Africa is looking to send home 100 employees across its markets to achieve its short term objectives.

Media observers opine that the latest purge will lead to reduced journalism quality even as the company tries to style itself as the best ahead of baying competition.

Big names

The employees axed on Friday join another 40 who received termination letters on Thursday. The list includes;

Francis Munywoki Nation Newspaper Division Managing Director.

David Aduda- partnerships & projects manager and long-serving education editor,

Ng’ang’a Mbugua- Business Daily Managing Editor.

Francis Wanyonyi Wambilianga- Daily Nation News Editor.

Mark Agutu- Editions Editor

Jeremiah Kiplagat- Eldoret Bureau Chief

David Aduda- Editor

George Omondi, Business Daily- Section Editor

Julius Sigei- Agriculture Editor

Joe Mbuthia- Output Editor

Alex Shikami- Senior Internal Auditor

Martin Mwangi- Deputy Sub Editor

Henry Gekonde- Revise Editor

Nancy Ogutu- National Digital

Peter Choge- Nation Digital

Momanyi Maosa- Nation Digital

 

The media industry is keenly watching how the virtual office model will be implemented by NMG and which, indeed, it will cut cost and enhance its mobile transformation.

READ ALSO:   Details on why Nation Media Group's CEO Muganda has resigned

FULL CIRCULAR

Nation Media Group

Media of Africa for Africa

To All Staff-NMG Kenya 1st July, 2020

RE: REORGANISATION

Dear Colleagues,

I trust you are keeping well and staying safe while observing the Ministry of

Health protocols on prevention of COVID-19 pandemic.

In my last communication, | stated how the COVID-I9 pandemic has resulted in global uncertainty and unprecedented challenges impacting most businesses adversely. As you are aware, many companies have either shutdown, substantially scaled down operations or re-engineered themselves due to the drastic decline in revenues. Globally, the media sector has not been spared by the pandemic and media houses including NMG, having been severely impacted.

During this period, management has undertaken several cost-saving interventions to enable business continuity, ensure sustenance of livelihoods of staff and their dependents and continue delivery of services to our customers. However, despite taking these key actions, the business has continued bearing the brunt of the pandemic.

In view of the current adverse impact on business performance, the temporary salary reduction will be extended to 31 December 2020. This unavoidable action will be reviewed depending on the company’s performance and as the COVID-19 situation evolves. Individual letters will be sent to the affected employees.

Further, this new reality necessitates the re-engineering of NMG to accelerate the Group’s digital transformation. In this journey, the Group seeks to radically change its business model from print advertising and physical reader copy to digital advertising, ePaper subscription and content-driven reader revenue with the objective of establishing leadership in the mobile publishing landscape in Africa while exploring other new revenue streams in the experiential and technology space.

This will require re-tooling and resourcing the Group with relevant skill sets critical for success in the new business environment. Regrettably, this will result in a reduction of our workforce effective Friday, July 3, 2020.

It is an extremely difficult decision in view of the prevailing circumstances and we understand the impact this will have on those affected and their families. The exercise will be carried out with utmost respect to our affected colleagues and in adherence to the Kenyan labour laws. We will strive to provide the necessary support to help exiting staff manage this difficult transition.

We have made special arrangements for those affected to receive counselling support. Colleagues stationed outside of Nairobi who are affected will be offered relocation assistance. The affected staff will receive medical cover for a period of two months until August 31, 2020. Thereafter, the company has negotiated a medical insurance scheme through its current provider which those affected may opt to individually join.

Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to speak with your line manager or contact Human Resources Department.

Stephen Gitagama

GROUP CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER,

Nation Media Group

 

-Businesstoday.co.ke

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Business

How retrenchment made me an employer

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“I studied social work in school, graduated with good grades and landed this sign language job with a major media house in the country. I had made it, I thought, especially since I was in a niche and marketable field of sign language where demand was high yet we were just a few to begin with,” Njeri starts.

She adds that like many employed people, she revelled in the regular paycheck, but soon learnt it was a false sense of security: that salaried employees feel confident that the next pay cheque is guaranteed when it is really not. And just like many Kenyans, she started a side hustle, a wines and spirits outlet, in Ruaka to supplement her salary. But then the unexpected happen; in March 2018, the media company she worked for conducted layoffs, and she was among those who lost jobs. Needlesss to say, the business suffered and she wallowed in despair and self-pity in the house for close to seven months.

“Being jobless was a new experience for me, having been employed since I was 19. I blamed myself, friends and family who I thought should have done better and been there for me. It was only at the tail end of this long pity party that I realised I am responsible for me and no one was coming to save me. I had to save myself,” she says.

Greatest boundary

In hindsight, that period was necessary. It taught her lessons no one teaches in schools: that the world owes her nothing, and that we, as a people, should stop expecting it to be fair. She had friends she had helped set up businesses, get jobs, was close to, yet they deserted her in her hour of need. It taught her the importance of not gauging others using oneself as a yard stick; she would never let a friend starve, but that choice was now not up to her. The time also made her realise everyone is going through something, and that expecting them to take care of you was neither altruistic nor realistic. It taught her everyone has the capacity to push past the greatest boundaries they thought they were incapable of pushing against, that with enough willpower one can blast past any obstacle whether it is redundancy, a failed business or simply a workplace with a toxic culture.

READ ALSO:   Ken Mijungu goes for vacay after retrenchment from NTV

After the said seven months, the last of which was spent reading the Bible, she was ready to do anything to survive. A friend would send her for an insurance sales job interview in Meru. With nothing else to do and with the mindset to start afresh, Njeri packed her belongings and travelled. However, on realising it was not a salaried position, but rather a commission based job that required her to go out and convince people to buy insurance policies, she had to look for other options. This was in consideration of the fact that she is an introvert, which reduced her chances of making money every month.

Services diversification

She opted for a cleaning gig. This was after an encounter with a cyber cafe owner who asked her to clean the cafe. She earned Sh50, and the next day received calls from the owner who had recommended her to other shopowners who were interested in her services. The ladies paid her Sh100 per job, and she made Sh400 before 11am. She was elated.

It was from this experience she figured that charging Sh50 at each shop would see her make a guaranteed sum of Sh500 daily if she cleaned 10 offices. It did not take long for her to make some considerabe amount of money as more clients came on board. She, however, had to deal with comments about being a graduate that cleas people’s offices for meagre sums of money. She did not mind, she knew pride would not feed her or alleviate her hardships.

READ ALSO:   VIDEO: Veteran journalist Emmanuel Juma of Bulls Eye fame sacked by NMG

She cleaned offices to the best of her abilities, and in the process, building her brand and her name that she got more jobs than she could not handle on her own. She needed help. She trained a few women to help her out and soon a company she would later register was born. She named it Maximum Cleaning Hub. She has on board 12 employees, two of whom are on casual basis.

Njeri says the transition from a one-person unit to a team was quite easy. She understood that her work required patience and resilience and she instilled that in her new staff.

“Since I had once been an employee, unemployed and a cleaner, being a team leader was easy,” she adds.

She landed her first cleaning con tract for a hospital in Meru. It was a case of being in the right place at the right time. One of her clients, a doctor at the hospital, told her about a tender for cleaning and encouraged her to apply.

She took her time to create a presentation that would see her bag the contract. Selling her ideas was something she picked up from trying to convince people to let her clean their offices for them. She understoood the need to be unique and to do one’s due diligence.

“I know it is hard being a tenderpreneur, but having a great idea and making it into a great presentation will better your odds of winning. You should also research the tender process and try consult others who have done what you are trying to do before,” she advises.

Njeri would later bag other contracts, forcing her to diversify services her company offered to such as laundry pickup, cleaning and drop off. Today she maintains the same work ethic: reliability, hard work and meeting clients’ standards and specifications.

With the growth of her company, she also had to make work easier for her employees. The company bought washing machines and a vehicle for the pick-up and drop off. They even branded laundry bags and baskets.

READ ALSO:   Ken Mijungu blasts Betty Kyallo for ‘painting Dennis Okari as irresponsible dad’

Stop pity party

In hindsight, she is more appreaciative of that moment of lull that came to change her life.

“I believe I would not be at the place I am today had I not gone through that hard period in 2018. Retrenchment taught me about having real friends and discerning between real friendhips and just friends whom you hang out with. It also taught me

that so long as you stop that pity party and start doing something, anything at all, your breakthrough shall come,” she says.

She adds, “To all those who may have lost their jobs, or their businesses may not be bringing in much, I am sorry that you have to go through that. But do not despair. Keep moving. Whatever you do, just do not stop to feel sorry for yourself and wallow in that space. You are your own saviour.”

The 30-year-old is grateful that she is able to put food on the table and support her family. She is now keen on expanding her business beyond Meru county, where she is currently based.

ABOUT NJERI

• Njeri was born and raised in Limuru, Kiambu County.

• She lost her job as a sign language interpreter in 2018.

• After months of isolation and self-refection she started doing odd cleaning jobs, earning Sh50 a day.

• Today, she is the founder of Maximum Cleaning Hub, a company she set up in December 2018.

• So far, she has 12 employees, two on casual basis.

“To all those who may have lost their jobs, or their businesses may not be bringing in much, I am sorry you have to go through that. But do not despair.

By PD

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University student who bought planes, lived life in the fast lane

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As Loretta Wavinya and Lillian Nzongi, in distinctive orange jumpsuits, walked into prison to start their terms as convicted fraudsters, their relative Jeffrey Ndungi Sila was eyeing an opportunity to run the racket.

That Wavinya had been jailed for 14 years and her sister, Nzongi, for five years for defrauding the American government of Sh975 million, was not a deterrent enough for Ndungi.

Shortly after his cousins were jailed, Ndungi jumped into the fray. And the returns were so good that, in 2012, just two years after graduating, Ndungi had bought himself two Cessna planes with registration numbers 5Y-CCN and 5Y-CCO.

Ndungi was only 23 and pursuing an engineering degree at the University of Nairobi when he started leading a flamboyant lifestyle. A quiet and geeky person, according to those who know him, Ndungi’s personality in university was an exact opposite of who he was in primary and secondary school.

A Cessna plane belonging to Jeffrey Sila, parked at a city airport.

Pool

After sitting his Kenya Certificate of Primary Education exams at Unoa Primary School in Wote in 1999, Ndungi joined Alliance High School after posting excellent grades. His schoolmates say he was very religious and an official of the Christian Union. He couldn’t hurt a fly, they say, although that quietness did mask his other side.

A friend who bumped into him in 2005, just two years after high school, when Ndungi was a first year student at the University of Nairobi, was surprised to see him driving a brand new Subaru. As other students were cramming themselves in hostels after lectures, Ndungi drove himself to his own house in Nairobi’s South B, a middle-class neighbourhood.

He was wealthy when we were in campus

“He was wealthy when we were in campus and had several fuel guzzlers — a BMW, a Mercedes Benz and several Subarus,” a former classmate told the Nation.

With no known sources of income, Ndungi’s flamboyant lifestyle was definitely questionable, but his classmates had no clue where he was getting his money. It was assumed that his mother, who was based in Kansas, USA, was financing his lifestyle.

But Ndungi had possibly been introduced to the vice by his uncle Paul Kilungya Nyumu, the man who introduced his entire family to cybercrime before vanishing. Nyumu had also played a big role in laundering funds stolen by his two nieces, Wavinya and Nzongi.

It’s not known if some of this money was used to finance Ndungi’s flashy lifestyle while still in campus. What’s known, however, is that Ndungi had over a period of three years watched from the front row how the proceeds of cybercrime could finance someone’s lifestyle and he wanted in.

He was not alone. Also watching on the sidelines was Ndungi’s uncle, Robert Mutua Muli, who was by then based in Virginia, US.

READ ALSO:   Leaked screenshot of conversation between Ken Mijungu and Betty Kyallo
A mugshot of Robert Muli.

Alexandria Sheriff’s Office

Muli is a cousin of Nyumu, the fugitive and original mastermind of the tax filing syndicate.

Another entrant was Nyumu’s daughter, Monica, who had relocated to the US after abandoning her teaching career in Kenya. Monica is Ndungi’s mother.

From the beginning, the family relied on Monica’s salary. But as the money started flowing – and everyone could notice – her husband, a former councillor in Wote, was forced to relocate to Mlolongo following frequent attacks by armed robbers who wanted a share of their new-found riches.

Ndungi was by this time engaged in cyber fraud in Kenya, Nigeria, North Africa and the United States. He started by hacking into Multichoice systems, which enabled him to mint cash from illegal distribution of DSTV signals.

Stealing identities

Then, he joined the tried-and-tested family business: stealing the identities of American citizens and using them to claim fake tax refunds. But since he had seen his two cousins get jailed for similar crimes, Ndungi opted to use Nairobi as his base. That way, he thought, he was safe.

Meanwhile, his uncle Muli decided to try his hand at an entirely new type of cyber fraud known as Business Email Compromise.

Muli’s gang, which comprised criminals based in Kenya, would hack into official emails of companies, identify their business partners and convince them to divert payments to their accounts.

But both schemes would fall apart spectacularly.

Criminal files and court proceedings from the US and Kenya reviewed by the Nation Investigations Desk indicate that while Ndungi was the head of a DSTV hacking cartel in Kenya, he was just an employee in the American tax fraud syndicate.

His uncle Muli, too, despite being integral in the BEC scheme, since he was based in the US, was taking instructions from people in Kenya. This is according to a transcription of Muli’s WhatsApp messages that were retrieved from his phone by the FBI and which we have obtained.

In Nairobi

The key architect of the scam, who is saved in the messages as a Frank MA, was based in Nairobi, and had the right connections in the banking system to enable the thousands of dollars they were stealing from the US to make it to Kenya.

It is Frank who was issuing instructions to Muli on almost everything, from registering his own company, Rogram Home Improvement, which was to be the recipient of the stolen funds, to who to send the money to once it hit the accounts.

In one of the messages, Frank informs Muli that the bank manager, whose name we have withheld, had written to him about the willingness of the bank, in Nairobi’s Westlands, to take the money.

READ ALSO:   Thugs break into journalist Ken Mijungu's house days after losing job

This money was supposed to be wired to a law firm that had an account with the bank.

This is how the scam worked. Frank’s associates first hacked into Dell’s system and created clones of emails belonging to the computer firm’s finance department. Then they took note of the companies that had running contracts with Dell for the supply of computers.

Divert payments

Once identified, Frank would use the cloned emails to write letters to the victims and ask them to divert payments owed to Dell to different bank accounts. Some of the entities that were conned include Fairfax County, which lost $1.3 million (Sh130 million) in the scam and the University of California, which lost $749,158 (Sh75 million).

“A review of the emails from Co-conspirator 1 to Victim 1 shows the emails were sent from a single Internet Protocol (IP) address from Kenya — IP address 41.72.192.154. When Co-conspirator 1 sent these emails, travel records indicate that Muli was in the US,” says the investigation file on Muli’s gang.

The Nation has established that the said IP address that was used in the fraud is in Malindi.

This means that Frank, who has not been arrested, could have been in Malindi during the entire period of the fraud. His whereabouts or true identity still remains unknown.

Apart from Frank, other people who may have been part of the scam – since they received the thousands of dollars that were stolen – include a Francis Asanyo Mobisa, Beth Nyambura Gitau, Anthony Mureithi and Rachel Mathenge.

Beth, who is Muli’s wife and based in Naivasha, received over a million shillings on diverse dates between December 2018 and March 2019. Mobisa received Sh400,000 on February 26,2019, while Frank pocketed most of the money.

He never went anywhere without his large bible

Meanwhile, as Muli sent most of his proceeds from the fraud to Kenya, he continued to lead a simple life in the US. He maintained his job as a driver and posed as a very religious family man to his neighbours.

“He never went anywhere without his large bible, well-worn and with many bookmarks. He told me he had a prayer ministry for Kenyans, which he gave hours. His only day of refreshment and ease was Sunday,” his neighbour Linda Senter would later tell law enforcement agencies. To the FBI though, this was a façade.

While Muli managed to hide his criminal deeds by remaining humble, his nephew in Nairobi wasn’t. As if buying two planes wasn’t enough, Ndungi acquired two luxury cars: a Range Rover and an American Cadillac Escalade.

READ ALSO:   VIDEO: Kenyan TV star Lulu Hassan to anchor news with her husband

Multichoice, however, soon realised he was using his legally opened accounts to sell viewership packages to several individuals in Kenya and Nigeria. Consequently, Ndungi was arrested on March 31, 2015 after police raided his residence at Executive Suite Estate house number 15 in South B.

He was released on bail, but as the case progressed, he continued focussing all his energies on stealing the identities of American citizens and using them to claim fake tax refunds. To avoid detection, he filed the fake returns using a computer located at a cyber café at Vision Plaza along Mombasa Road.

Six years

After what was a successful six-year run in the American syndicate, Ndungi’s cookie started crumbling in 2014. He used the identity of a Cynthia H. Short, to file tax returns for the year. The returns indicated that Ms Short worked for Aureus Radiology LLC, a company based in Omaha, Nebraska and that she received wages of $116,740 (Sh11.6 million).

Short’s tax history indicated that she was liable for a refund of $76,592.86 (Sh7.6 million). In applying for the refund, “Ms Short” listed P.O. Box 925, Uhuru Gardens, Nairobi as her current mailing address.

When the US Internal Revenue Service called Aureus Radiology to confirm Short’s employment status, they discovered that the company had never even heard of her. The IRS then sent an undercover agent to pose as a client looking to buy treasury cheques.

Fake cheques

The agent contacted Ndungi in January 2016, saying he was looking for fake treasury cheques. He fell for the trap, boarded a plane and headed to the US hoping for a Sh7.6 million payday.

In his first meeting with the undercover agent, which took place on August 1, 2016, he received $48,000 (Sh4.8 million) in cash after arguing that there were several other players in the deal all looking to get paid. The meeting took place at Korean House, 2598 Royal Lane in Dallas, Texas.

In a taped conversation Ndungi offered to bring more fake cheques.

Convinced they had finally landed their man after a six-year search, the FBI arrested Ndungi two days later as an Emirates plane he had boarded to Dubai in order to connect to Nairobi was sitting on the tarmac at Los Angeles International Airport. He is serving a seven-year jail term.

And Muli was arrested while at an airport trying to catch a flight to escape to Kenya after stealing more than Sh200 million by tricking American government institutions to wire payments meant for computing company Dell. He was handed a five-year sentence at the end of last year.

By Nation.co.ke

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Wambui Collymore wades into Artcaffe’s free-coffee-for-artwork saga

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Wambui Collymore, widow of the late former Safaricom CEO, Bob Collymore, and the founder of The Art Space, an online art gallery, has weighed in on Artcaffe’s free coffee and exposure saga.

The city restaurant on Wednesday dominated social media in the country after launching an art competition in which they announced that they would reward the winners with a year supply of coffee and exposure.

Although Artcaffe has since amended the competition rules after Kenyans went ham on them on social media, Wambui, who is an accomplished artist, has gone ahead to offer some free advice to the restaurant chain on how to invest in art pro bono.

INVESTMENT NOT EXPOSURE

In Wambui’s words, art is meant to be bought and not supported.

“This is precisely why we need to stop using the words, ‘support art’. Art is made to be bought, unless the artist offers to do it for free. Refusing to buy art actually kills the industry. Exposure is refusing to buy art. We don’t need exposure. We need investment in the arts,” Wambui said.

GIVING OPPORTUNITY

After being bashed all day on social media, Artcaffe on Wednesday said that would instead offer cash incentives for the competition winners, but still insisted that the campaign is aimed at giving artists an opportunity and exposure.

READ ALSO:   Details on why Nation Media Group's CEO Muganda has resigned

“In light of the reaction to our competition launch we want to clarify: The prize is not coffee and we greatly value artists and designers. In this difficult time the purpose of this competition is to give artists and designer’s exposure and opportunity,” the restaurant tweeted.

On the score of giving opportunity, Wambui said she appreciates and applauds the fact that Artcaffe would like to be involved in the visual arts.

“It’s fantastic when corporates get involved. The investment just needs to be sustainable and actually create tangible impact,” she said.

BY NN

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