The Hunt for Business Ideas

Interviewing for business problems in the market

Observing and identifying problems in the local community as a basis for potential business opportunities initially seemed like a simple concept that could be easily translated across to our Kenyan participants. In reality this has proven much more of a challenge than I had anticipated and my work with ‘Flyers Muzika’ – a group of gospel music performers – has been a great example of this.

Having discussed different approaches we could use to introduce this concept to the groups we decided to start by using examples of successful Kenyan businesses – such as MPesa (a way of sending money through mobile phones). We introduced the businesses and asked the group to pinpoint the problems being solved. Feeling confident that the group had grasped this idea, we asked them to go out and observe problems in the local community under categories such as ‘infrastructure’, ‘health’, and so on – so as to avoid them returning next session with overly broad problems such as unemployment or poverty. Thinking about it though, if somebody had asked me to do the same I’d really struggle to observe problems in my local area.  Everyday experiences or things that cause difficulty don’t naturally translate into problems you would identify as the basis for a business idea when you first look at them….

…and so the group came back with exactly those broad problems we were trying to avoid. So we decided to take a different approach – the great thing about the process here is that if something isn’t working as you hoped you go back, talk it through with the other participants and try something new.

In the next session we looked at interviewing techniques and asked the group to go out and interview members of the local community – youths, professionals, businesses etc. to identify problems they experienced on a daily basis. This proved to be much more fruitful and a group member identified from this that there weren’t many public places for entertainment in Nakuru, especially for people from lower income backgrounds.

So in our last session we looked at potential business solutions. The group had an idea to organise live music events and as we discussed this in more detail the group became so enthusiastic about the notion they could do something they love AND make money – finally we are onto something (I hope)! They are now going out to conduct further research to see if this idea will really work as a sustainable business and I am really excited to see the results.