Boardroom Banter the Podcast from Africa – Interview with Yuri Coret, Boniface B. Omina & Sean Karanja – The Team behind the scenes
March 30, 2022
On a bright warm sunny humid day like this one here in the tropical island of Mauritius, after lunch time, sometime ago, where you can feel the heat that is above 30° Celsius, and the narrow side lanes of urban residential blocks around Port-Louis are quiet. I would open the yards gate, cross the street and check what my friend Alain is up to. We would then figure out something that we will play with. Let’s build a kite, would be one of many projects we engage into. Get some old newspaper, pull some sticks out from the coconut broom, get some cooked rice from the rice cooker to be used as glue, some polyester sewing thread and we were set with the basic materials required to build a kite. Alain knew how to build it, and they would always fly. It required some skills. For example the kite would need to have parallels that more or less are of the same sizes, and when attaching the string you would need to know how to balance the kite and know where to attach it. Alain used no ruler. His approximations would be good enough. In hindsight, later on, I can look back that it was an interesting example of how perfect can be the enemy of good enough. When I started to build my own kites, use rulers, measure everything up, none of my kites flew, it took me several months of trying until I figured out that it had something to do with the balancing. I realized this when at night I would visualize and go through all the processes of making the kite, where I could be making a mistake and what I need to try differently. Finally I started to build kites that would fly. I was glad that i hadn’t given up. Just like back then when we kids were running around on the streets and trying to whistle with our fingers, it took me one month to learn it! Lessons of persistence. Keep trying until you make it, and not to give up. Funny how in adult life, for various experiences including entrepreneurship I would have forgotten about this and give up. I had to relearn from motivational speakers on learning from failures. Back then, it was unthinkable of, that we would someday hold a screen in our hands with high computational power, yet alone in colour and with the ability to speak to anyone world wide and share our thoughts. Something that can be carried around anywhere, that just connects to the internet in the air, no cable required, with multimedia functions like cameras etc. Our TV set would only be switched on in the late evening, there was only 1 TV channel which would start at 17:00 o’clock and stop at midnight. Similarly there was only 1 radio channel. Colour TVs and video players were a sensation. People who had these sets, would rent VHS video cassettes and invite people over to watch a movie. TV shows that we kids adored were Air Wolf which was about a super helicopter, Knight Rider which was about a super car and Tonnerre Mécanique which was about a …super bike! We would run outside and imitate the sounds of these shows. In our fantasies and imaginations we wished we could fly or drive these machines. I never thought about running my own TV channel, radio channel and even less about entrepreneurship. These were the unknowns, things you didn’t know about. Like the “You don’t know what you don’t know” kind of things. What we knew were a few professions. We would say things like I would like to be a pilot someday when I grow up, because it means you can fly a cool airplane. Our thoughts would dwindle around concepts that we know of and relate to the environment we were growing up in. Parents, family and friends would be playing a very important role as transmitter of information. Access to books was sparse and there wouldn’t be any documentaries to watch on TV to learn from. That would come gradually later.
Later on, even in high school, the notion of entrepreneurship was not a given, and something rather unknown. The idea to run your own business sounded too risky. We wouldn’t be inculcated this kind of wisdom. Even though I had the subjects of business theory and accounting, where we would for example study business use cases of where it is best to setup a factory, like in which location of a town and why, the idea of starting your own small business was so far fetched unthinkable of! It was so abstract and distant this business subject, like it would very unlikely turn any of us learning about business into entrepreneurs of the future. This was not going to be instilled on us, this kind of creativity. We were being molded to become employees of the future. To speak of money, or sell something to someone and ask for money was for many a scary thing to do. Yes, the relationship and responsibility over the management of money, we didn’t learn about it in high school, neither later on in other institutions, it remained something of a scary taboo. Like the book Rich Dad Poor Dad says, we were learning the stay poor mindset in relationship to the handling of the money commodity. So, what happened to me, that I didn’t end up as an employee? This is another story for another day. I broke off the system and went another route that led me to learn all these skills the hard way through pains and failures.
Fast forward into the future. We are now, believe it or not, in the futuristic, nearly Utopian sounding year of 2022! We have these devices called smart phones. Multimedia handheld devices with a lot of functions à portée de main – which means within a hand reach, and a few finger movements on your phone, you can be engaging in various forms of communications and transactions. Within a few minutes, you can setup your own kind of “TV channel” or “Radio channel”. Let that sink in, your own channel, on various platforms with access to the world. This is a kind of tool that would have been unthinkable of, yet alone the low barrier of entry and with very low setting up costs (you need to buy the smart phone for e.g) you can simply get started on social media. Become aware of the tool, and what you can do with it. Accessibility to information made easy. So, if anyone can do it, it means there is competition to access the world, the markets, the niches, groups of people etc. If anyone can be their own channel of expression, there can be billions of accounts of channels. Why would someone want to watch or listen to my channel? I would answer this question by bringing something that has value, value and meaning to someone, solutions to problems etc. There are of course many other ways to answer this, like for example I could say that the value I bring on the table is that I film my activity of producing health drinks, which others watching it find it as an entertaining form of value to consume. How to stand out? There are different mechanisms that make you stand out in social media. Then there is marketing, your brand and channel, you can pay to increase your reach. It can create a sort of momentum, more followers generate more followers through sharing your content. Let’s stick with the value. Some years ago, I started to listen to some podcasts like Farnam Street. I would use an app, subscribe to the channel and find great value in their discussion and interviews of interesting personalities. Personalities I wouldn’t have access to here in Mauritius yet alone to meet in person. Meaning with the podcasts, similar to books, I could get to hear and learn how they think. It would influence me in a great way! People on social media who bring value and have a large following base are called influencers! There are many podcasts out there. Like really a lot covering nearly ever theme you can think of, from mental health to entrepreneurship and so on. I wouldn’t go on a podcast app and look for podcasts. Podcasts would usually find me in some way. Through recommendations. Here is how this can happen. I follow Alicia on Twitter, she is smart, I like the way she thinks and the way she words her tweets, this then on social media makes her have a form of authority, meaning if I see her recommend something, like a podcast, chances are that I will like the content as I know Alicia liked it. This is how I found out about Farnam Street, as she regularly retweeted podcasts she had listened about them.
I know Yuri, I met him in person, and we have had conversations several times. I like the projects he does, and in addition to being a student at ALU (African Leadership University), he is also a DJ, part of an organization that runs events and also part of a team that runs a podcast. Yuri and his team mates do so many more things that I cannot list here, you’ll discover more as the stories unfold. This is how I found out about his podcast, in person. Not through social media or any form of online marketing. Today I am recommending to you their podcast Boardroom Banter for listening. And the content that follows will be an in depth interview of the team of Boardroom Banter. We know that there are many podcasts out there. Find out what makes them stand out, what makes them different! Like; How about discovering more about the ins and outs of running and managing a podcast. Let’s get to know the different walk of life’s of the Boardroom Banter team. What is the essence, the mind, the spirit, that brings it all together to make it work. They are all in their early twenties, running a very serious podcast with gold nuggets of content. In this introduction above, I mentioned that I couldn’t have imagined in my youth to run my own radio & tv show someday. The tools weren’t there and we were limited by concepts that would limit our creativity into believing that we can build great things – like to turn the abstract into realities! I am glad to see this happening on the African continent! Let’s dive in!
August 29, 2020
On this page I will list some books that I have read. I like reading on a wide variety of topics, I practice this activity as a form of studying on a regular basis for which I set aside time, and also as a form of entertainment in parallel. I do not read only one book at a time. I start off with several books and finish them at different intervals. This also helps me to progress on books that I find difficult to focus on for a long period of time. I read paper printed books and digital ebooks on a Kobo reader (you can instally an open source OS on it!) as I wanted to avoid using the Amazon eco system. I also listen to audio books. I also have a few lists of books that I want to complete, one of them is a list of Russian literature novels. I read books in 3 languages, mainly in English, German and French.
One of my favorite books is Der Zauberberg by Thomas Mann. Why do I like this book in particular? I like the way the author constructs his sentences, uses extensive vocabulary in a way that just is naturally pleasing, has the ability to describe the scenes and emotions of the plot in a way I can only admire! It is really a piece of art, it feels like consuming a very delicious liqueur with chocolate.
Market Creating Innovation Changes Lives in Africa
May 17, 2020
As I sat waiting in good company for some delicious Mukimo Kienyeji with beef stew on the first floor’s veranda of Leeks Restaurant located in Ruaka, Kiambu county, Kenya. I leaned against the railing on that hot sunny bright blue sky day of the beginning of year 2019 and gazed through my sunglasses on the well known busy street called Limuru road. Little did I know of, neither did it ever cross my mind as a travel objective, that some day I’ll find myself to be in the land of the book “The River Between” written by Ngugi that we read and studied in high school in Mauritius, in our teenager years. Honestly back then, in literature class, I had great difficulty following the narrators story. Just like other works such as Shakespeare’s Macbeth! So it is for a young man who still had to go out there and see the world… Which would shape his perceptions, gain some maturity and gradually understand a little more the languages of those great thinkers! I will soon read “The River Between” again with great anticipation, after several decades, and am pretty sure the same book, will speak to me very differently… Have you experienced similar in your life?Continue Reading
An introduction to the basics of electricity and solar systems in Mauritius by Onyedika Atuchukwu
April 2, 2020
Intro by Dietmar
After reading the interesting and inspiring thesis of Onyedika Atuchukwu on a Hybrid System for a rice factory processing plant in Nigeria that is connected to an unreliable grid, I discussed with him if we could do a project on the basics of electricity and an introduction on solar systems in Mauritius to get better acquainted with the subject. You are most likely consuming electricity at the moment you are reading this in one way or the other. Whether it is from your phone’s battery or your desktop PC connected to the CEB grid, having the lights on, the air con running etc. Electricity plays an important role in our daily lives. Sometimes when I hire an electrician to fix something, I realise my short comings on this subject and I wished, I knew more on this topic. Just like when reading my CEB bill, what does kilowatt hour (kWh) mean? How is the price calculated? How much might a solar system cost? How long might it take until I would have fully amortized the costs? How interesting is it for example for a beach villa that is operated as a holiday rental unit? These are some of the topics that we have addressed in this project. Please bear in mind that this project is only an introduction to these themes, the topic of electricity is vast and solar systems can be complex and have various variants on how these can be setup. What not to expect in this project is an analysis of local existing solar systems nor solar farms that are present in Mauritius. Links to projects and companies are not endorsements, these are for information purposes only. You are welcome to contribute questions and information around this topic in the comments section.
Onyedika recently finished his Bachelor degree in the study field of Electrical Power Systems Engineering at the The African Leadership University in Mauritius.
Without further ado, let’s dive into the topic of electricity and solar energy with Onyedika.
SAFER Pest Control – A Pest Control company in the North of Mauritius
September 9, 2019
I had some issues with termites in my cup boards which Eric took good
care of. Eric has a decade of experience in the field of pest control
and recently started his own company. He knows well his products and
also has some of his own mixtures. The latter was applied to my
cupboards – with excellent results.
I find it inspiring and motivating to see people launch their own business. I’m curious to know what drives them, what got them there and why are they doing it from an entrepreneurs perspective. Which fears did they have? How did they overcome them, and a midst risk and adversities started to go ahead. How does a business leader think? Get to know the man who is behind SAFER Pest Control. If you are looking for pest control services in the northern part of Mauritius, I can definitely recommend his company. Reliable, shows up on the day that the appointment has been set and does a good job. Without further ado, let’s begin with the interview.
The Maybe View of Life: Self Contempt
August 23, 2019
We sometimes say Maybe… Do you find yourself saying Maybe to everything or too often? In the past, I would answer many friends questions with a maybe… sounds familiar? Instead of a clear answer of YES or NO. This indecisiveness, this need to take a decision… Why do I have to take a decision… How about Y.O.U. A.L.L. just Leave me alone!?…
Where does this desire to be left alone stem from? This sense of separation, to keep away from others, to believe that I am a sort of person that needs to be on my own… One can create the belief form that one is (more) special, and that others aren’t, they are low lives, therefore I have my own justified answer why I can even be proud of my anti social ways… so where does it stem from?
…SHAME! Did you know that? I didn’t. It never even occurred to me to consider it’s effects!
From where does that Shame stem from? That is the question… Impressive how much a <<Maybe>> can tell about >> YOU…
Got lost while Hiking in the Gorges of Mauritius
July 28, 2019
The experience of finding your way back…
My buddy and I got lost on the Trochetia trail while hiking in the beautiful Gorges National park of Mauritius. What was supposed to take us only 30mins to reach the Gorges viewpoint, a short walk literally from the right of the Parakeet trail to the left towards the Gorges viewpoint, ended up in a several hours tough bush walk, with crouching through a wild boar tunnel, climbing big rocks, squeezing through branches, sometimes close like bushwhacking while figuring our way back. Our plan was to hike till the peak of Piton de la Petite Riviere Noire and from there continue on till the parking area in the Gorges. From there we would then walk back up the Parakeet trail and reach the car.
This experience, was an intense one, with many lessons to take home, and ways of looking at how one-selves copes in team under stress and fear. Everything changes when you don’t have a laid out track ahead of you, and you find yourself in unknown risky terrain with cliffs.
On this day, I had for the first time installed the Wikiloc app on my phone to record our hike, so this whole hike, including the part where we got lost is recorded. Before you come to conclusions wondering how could we still loose our path even though we had a GPS on the phone, we only figured out a while later when we started to get stuck that our predicament has been sealed… We also got lost, because at first we thought, we were still on track… see how you can fool yourself with over confidence. We also thought that it’s logically going to be easy to connect with where we were aiming for, because we kind of logically knew, if we were on the correct path, it should have been easy…Continue Reading
How to make your WordPress blog GDPR compliant with a plugin
July 9, 2019
It took me several days to make my self hosted blog, which runs on the CMS based on WordPress, GDPR compliant. I’m sure, that I’m not the only one, who had to go through this and I’ve decided to write this article to help you and save you some time! And maybe headaches 🙂
In this article I will not detail what GDPR exactly is, for this, there is enough documentation out there, click on this link where you can read more about the huge topic of GDPR. We will more look at what you have to do (plugin wise), to make your blog GDPR compliant. Just keep in mind that this article is not any form of legal advise and that I do not cover how to make your privacy statement! The plugin that I will recommend, offers an option to generate a privacy statement in its paid version. For my use, the free options are sufficient and I made my own privacy statement.
How to import your bank statement from MCB into GnuCash
June 18, 2019
GnuCash is a great open source program that you can download for free to do double entry bookkeeping with on your PC or Laptop. It’s fairly easy to use and I also like how easy it is to create various accounts and sub accounts for various categories of your assets, incomes and expenditures. Some basic accounting knowledge will be a plus. Else you can easily get into it by following some tutorials. The GnuCash community is also very helpful, they are accessible via an online forum.
In this article I will write about how you can import your bank statements from MCB (Mauritius Commercial Bank) into GnuCash. This tutorial is meant more for those that already use GnuCash. It is not an introduction into how to use GnuCash from scratch. There are some good resources out there for that on the GnuCash Wiki and forum to begin with. Am also writing this article because in the past I never considered the option of doing a bank statement import and used to do it manually. The copy and paste method, which is quite time consuming!
Fixing cracks on the terrace and servicing the metal roof in Mauritius
June 10, 2019
Now that we are done with the roof, we are moving to the next project which is to fix cracks on the terrace and then service the metal roof to protect it from rust as well as clean it.
The terrace that we will work on, is a part of the whole terrace at the back of the apartment, we will not be working on the whole surface of the whole terrace. Part of the terrace was covered with an additional layer of concrete. However when this job was done, no metal was used nor any membranes which would have probably led to less cracks. I didn’t know that back then, else I could have made suggestions to the mason. Also, new concrete is difficult to make it stick on old concrete directly which I also didn’t know. At any house or family in Mauritius, it would always be good to have someone in the family or a contact for a second advise/opinion and also to pay close attention to what is being done. You or someone must always watch and at least in regular intervals.
If you don’t really know how things at least a little bit should be done, you will in many cases get work delivered that might have a lot of faults. Also, never take the first suggestion provided, always look for a few different solutions to get a problem fixed, especially when the first suggestion always is: Bizin Kass BETON! I constantly hear that from persons I have worked with, and what it means in Kreol is, we must break some concrete to solve the problem – in many cases there have been solutions that didn’t involve the need to break off any concrete. Just my 2c for some hard learned lessons! Please share with me your experiences too in the comments section.
IUGO Apartment & Studio Renovation & Makeover Project
September 16, 2016
IUGO is a term I coined some years ago which I have decided to use for the 2 units that I renovated and redesigned over these last 2 years. The main work has been done on the first floor where those 2 units are located, there is an apartment composed of 1 bedroom, 1 kitchen, 1 bathroom and a big terrace. Then there is the studio which is composed of all in one, 1 bedroom, kitchenette and bathroom with access to a balcony. I was procrastinating the makeover project for various reasons and years, on one side I knew it was going to be a lot of work and then I hadn’t yet met the right persons with whom I could do the artworks, so for several years (it wasn’t a priority as well) it remained a project in the back of the head. You know how it goes with lots of ideas and projects… only some will see the light and not all of them. …Until someday while I was swimming in the lagoon a guy from the neighbourhood approached me and told me he is an artist and he can do various kinds of art work jobs. I asked him for his credentials, checked his Facebook page of previous artworks that he had done and it all looked very promising – exactly what I was looking for!
Little did I and him know then that we would end up collaborating soon going to be 2 years! The main makeover project took a year to complete, it’s a never ending thing where I keep adding new things from time to time. From doing art works on the wall, wood sculpting, paint works, spray works on drums we have already reached like +10 projects. In this way project IUGO is quite unique as it didn’t only involve repainting the walls but giving it all an artistic touch. You will see below from the photos. Since I keep making changes from time to time, I might have to re-update the photos in the future. It keeps getting better! At least you’ll get an idea what we have been up to!Continue Reading
Selling Authentic Mauritius
September 13, 2016
It was once or still isn’t a requirement for Mauritius to be authentic in the sense of what people relate to when this term is mentioned which also requires a definition! The island was who it was or still is who it is… with a changed landscape and personality, I wasn’t around yet in the sixties or seventies but I was there to experience Mauritius in the eighties. And as of today, in 2016, Mauritius definitely has changed a lot in comparison to the eighties, but what makes it authentic? It can’t be unauthentic or a copy anyway – all countries more or less head somewhere and cannot keep the status quo…
However I would have never paid much attention to authenticity until I was in Rodrigues and also noticed that some resorts like Zilwa Attitude (in Mauritius) are including in their premises a series of activities/presentations which reflect how certain things are/were done in Mauritius – that is showcasing a few authentic characteristics of the island to the visitor, though when we live our daily lives with its busy-ness on the island, you get into a routine and the years go by until someone from abroad knocks on your door and asks you numerous questions about the island and why they came to visit Mauritius…
You could also ponder upon the reflective question if what was once being showcased at Domaine Les Pailles would be THE Authentic Mauritius or just merely falls under a presentation of a few facets of our history just like any other country. And it doesn’t make sense to stop development, all Mauritians have the right to endeavour for a better life which brings along change and development.
A simple way to reduce your cars maintenance costs and other engines
September 12, 2016
By the moment you might be reading this we will most likely be breaking the barrier of 500 000 registered vehicles on the roads of Mauritius. There seems to be a steady growth of around 2% per year in Mauritius. With a population of around 1.3 Million, chances are that you are owner of a car/s or 2×4, 4×4, van, bus, truck, bike or other type of vehicles.
Privately driven cars will have less tear and wear compared to heavy duty usage of pickups, vans, trucks, buses and other machinery such as excavators, tractors etc, that run on diesel and are built to perform heavy workloads. If your engines run on heavy duty usage or if you drive a lot (including private car owners), your costs of maintenance & fuel consumption will increase with the usage. The bigger the vehicle, the more expensive their spare parts, likewise also the more luxurious the brands the more expensive it gets.
Apart from fuel, wear and tear and maintenance can be a surprisingly heavy cost factor and extending the life of your spare parts and making your engine & gearbox run more efficiently should be your primary concern if you want to have peace of mind and control on your costs. There are basic and efficient ways to reduce or avoid heavy maintenance costs. While the casual driver doing just up to 10 000 Km a year starting off with a brand new or second hand car on low mileage might not be much concerned about what goes on inside his engine, therein lies the most important aspect of cost control and what goes inside the engine is crucial. It is very much in your interest to know if your engine is operating in an optimal environment that is lubricated at its best to reduce the tear & wear and prolong its lifetime to the longest extent possible.
How do I reduce the maintenance costs of vehicles?
Indeed improving the lubrication within your engine and gearbox will increase its lifetime and also make it more efficient bringing into play various other cost savings and improved performance. While using the standard recommended engine oil and gearbox oil for your type of vehicle or equipment will definitely offer it lubrication but in order to reach the best lubrication of your engine and gearbox you need to go a step further. In order to increase the lifetime and efficiency of your engine, you should apply an engine treatment and gearbox treatment product to your oil.
September 9, 2016
Mr Gérard Sanspeur mentioned on Radio Plus on the 07.09.2016 the importance for Mauritius to consider the implications of the blockchain technology. He is currently the Senior Adviser at the Ministry of Finance & Economic Development of Mauritius. Since crypto currencies and the blockchain is a technology I have some passionate interest in, I decided to look up the local media to see if his speech was documented or reported as recorded on defimedia, unfortunately there is nothing to be found. So I can only vaguely recall what was mentioned on the radio and it was a short extract. It was mentioned that Mauritius should consider the important implications of this technology and the country Estonia was also mentioned which is currently a leader in the world of having various public departments running on blockchain. Mauritius being an island with a population of only 1.3 million could leap frog into the future of efficiency by adopting such a technology. Leap frog means that the blockchain is a HORIZONTAL integration vehicle with huge potential. Just like electricity and the internet.
What is the blockchain?
The release of one of the very first blockchains dates back to the year of 2008/9 by a pseudonym or group of persons calling themselves Satoshi Nakamoto. Who he is or who they are is not known. You can Google this pseudonym and you will find lots of articles. Anyway, the technology now exists and is here to stay and change the world. Since then many improvements have been made by various collaborators and it is open source. I’m talking here of Bitcoins blockchain. There are as of today other blockchains as well and you can even start your own blockchain! You cannot look at blockchain by ignoring Bitcoin which started it all and has reached a market capitalization of +9 billion US$. It is mentioned in the Bitcoin whitepaper.
What it was like to sell my (old) car in Mauritius
September 6, 2016
Recently I sold my car. It turned 17 years of metal age. I endured it for 8 years ending with +250 000 Km in its belly which included every year visits to fitness in Port-Louis (very annoying – hope things have improved with the privatisation of these centres, also see my article about → bringing my car to fitness) and there were times were numerous dissapointing repairs were necessary. It was my first car, bought as a second hand vehicle of a German brand. The kind of brand which is supposed to be solid and where spare parts are totally overpriced which I figured out a bit to late. I was a total amateur not having any idea at all of what I was getting into. Of course this article is going to be how I sold it, but the experience I made on a whole is worth a share to. Yet, describing how to buy the right car is also a whole book of its own. In a nutshell the lessons I learnt is don’t buy an old car that has very high mileage, check your budget and what the spare parts cost of the brand you will get, also try to get some history of the car, are you buying the car to get from A to B or also because you are a fan of a particular model? If you want to get from A to B the choice is broad… If you are a fan of a particular type, then you already know what you want. When I bought my car I believed in the myth of the brands image that if it’s that particular brand, it ought to be solid and I’ll get to drive it without worries. If you are getting a second hand vehicle, might be wise to get a mechanic to come along to do your test drive!
I decided to sell my car for various reasons, when you have an old car, it’s only a matter of time that it will break down, always something will break down, it’s tear and wear – normal. But I wasn’t any more in the mood and a fan of that model as I was before to keep repairing it. And you might have some surprises that will just leave you with a bitter after taste. Such as once I was driving, and the cars engine went off because the fuel hose pipe at the back had a leak. What an unpleasant experience to have that strong smell of fuel and while I just had enough momentum to still park the car on the side of the road, I was freaking out with the sight of the continuous fuel dripping. What comes to your mind? Fire right? Anxiety: What if it catches fire? That moment was my tipping point. Even though when the mechanic had fixed it, there were times were there was still the fuel smell and it brought back the memories of that moment and I felt very insecure in my very own car. Considering also that I was fed up with fitness in Port-Louis as well. It was the moment to let it go!