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Preaching by: John J. Malone, Sr - JABSBG*

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My African Joint Venture (J/V) - Comments (1)

Printer Friendly Category: Behind the Lines,Venture in Africa
Author: John Malone
Date: 21st June, 2006 @ 03:19:39 PM

I became an investor in Kenya, in east Africa, in 1993. I started a company named “Diamond Systems, Ltd.” and we began, as our motto said, to deliver “World Class Computers at World Market Prices.”

We became something of an overnight sensation in Kenya, especially Nairobi, because we conducted ourselves in a nearly unprecedented way: (1) we did not pay bribes (sitoi kitu kidoogo); (2) we did pay customs taxes; (3) we advertised our prices in the newspaper (so that owners knew what their employees actually paid for computers).

Almost overnight, we became very well known, and attracted the attention of one of the most influential educators in Kenya, Professor Henry Thairu, the equivalent of the Dean of Faculty at the only national technical university in the country, the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.

Professor Thairu and I became known to each other, and agreed that the future of Kenya, in part, rested in technical training in information technology. We also discovered that each of us was a believer is Jesus Christ, so we had that in common, and our relationship found a bond of trust and communication that facilitated our working together.

Our joint venture, springing from our discussions, envisioned a poor country’s Leland’s farm (Stanford) with a technology park associated with the campus. That park would be in Phase II of our venture. The primary work was to get a curriculum in place to certify, give diplomas, and degrees to students who were not able to be enrolled in the university due to lack of seats, despite having qualified by test score.

The joint venture was duly drawn up. When countries (Kenya) are involved, the proper document to accomplish this is a “Memorandum of Agreement (MOA).” Professor Thairu, notably an honest and competent administrator in an environment not known for such traits, had the document drawn up, and guided it through all the bureaucracy of the university for approval.

The finished MOA was a 50-50 partnership between my company (Micro Mini Systems, Inc.) and the university (JKUAT), with the stipulation that the operation would be managed by Diamond Systems, Ltd. of Kenya.

The venture was launched at the beginning of 1997. It was an unbridled success from the outset.

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