In recent years, personalization of goods and services has taken root in society. During the beginning days of Uber, the premium service was being chauffeured around in a black Sports Utility Vehicle and aptly named Uber X. From here, personalization of basic services took shape and no longer became the preserve of the wealthy. For those that can afford, there's the option to have a personal chef if cooking is not your cup of tea. Banks have also taken the personalization game higher through executive banking and packaging insurance services with certain types of accounts.
Despite massive investments in telecommunication and internet enabled services, the coronavirus pandemic exposed the large parts of Kenya that experienced challenges with Internet communication largely due to related costs that come with Internet penetration. Much of the country has reliable internet connectivity thanks to the Universal Service Fund domiciled under the Communication Authority of Kenya. The challenge has been to avail the necessary technology for people to tap into the wide resource that is the internet. It is also the reason why leading telecommunication company Safaricom has led the charge with the 'Mwelekeo no Internet' campaign, which creates awareness about its 4G internet speeds as well as advertising its pay on the go smartphone acquisition facility, just as it did with the solar panel acquisition product M-Kopa.
Merging personalization in internet enabled services provides a platform for companies and brands to create a lasting impression in the minds of customers in a world where people are bombarded with adverts and competing products at every corner. Personalization is also the unique selling point of some industries such as the high-end hotel and aviation industry, which enables them to charge premium prices justified by the value of the brand behind a product or service.
Economic capacity building initiatives for persons with disabilities seem to have fully gone digital since one can reach many people at once which can be viewed as cost effective and time saving since some meetings can be done at home comfort. The downside of it is that some people are unable to keep pace with online activities given the decreasing attention span mostly among the young in the country. To effectively teach something using the online module, it is advisable to have an examination of some kind, either using bots or a mix of both online and physical learning.
Recently, UberEATS signed a deal with TextBook Center to have book customers delivering the books at their doorstep after buying from the TextBook Center online platform. This model is also replicated with Widu Africa, a platform to support small businesses across Africa supported by those that live abroad and, and want to help their relatives start a small business to improve their lives, rather than depend on remittances from abroad to survive. Widu Africa provides capital and business development services for the business to grow.
For persons with disabilities, starting a business is not only because of the capital challenge, but also because of the lack of nearby platforms to provide business knowledge for the business to grow. Some business premises are also located far between which may affect the operation time of the business such as opening and closing time of a shop. Business premises are sometimes not built with inclusion in mind and it becomes a challenge to navigate these hurdles with ease.
With the rise in home based and personalized services, businesses that are keen on inclusion could also take advantage and develop systems to support home based businesses. This would largely come in handy more so in marketing and supplying these goods, as the challenge of movement and operating from home will be a challenge in creating a brand, which is as a result of marketing. Of course, beyond marketing, other business development services can also be included in the package such as bookkeeping and price negotiations. The benefit of such an arrangement is that persons with disabilities do not have to worry about their goods not getting to the market. There is also the advantage that such a system has worked before with the rise of contract farming associated with big firms that have an element of farming in their production system. A case in point is the partnership between SightSavers and the East African Breweries Limited, where SightSavers will help women with disabilities in sorghum growing areas and EABL buying the product from the women with disabilities who will have been the sorghum farmers.
With such a model, businesses that take time to break even such as art and craft related businesses will have the time and space to grow without having to incur much costs such as rent and transport, while also making sure the person with disability are economically engaged and be at a position to sustain themselves. While this goes on, stakeholders in the small businesses can look for more permanent ways to solve disability related business challenges, such as building disability friendly business premises such as markets and having it anchored in law, so that there are ramifications should the law not be adhered to. Afterall, law was made for man not man for the law.
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