Here Is My Three Decade Formula to Make Our Mistakes Count

My son Kiseko is now in his late twen­ties. Inci­den­tal­ly, the three decades of his life rep­re­sent a life tra­jec­to­ry that immersed me into pow­er­ful life lessons that have made a last­ing difference.

As a young eco-entre­pre­neur between 1991–2001 when I was in my twen­ties, I made very many mis­takes. For instance, I would vis­it my farm in Kitui some­times togeth­er with my father, Bish­op Kalua. Dur­ing these vis­its, I often heaped prais­es on my farm work­ers when­ev­er I noticed that the crops were flourishing.

In one such farm vis­it, my father told me “As the own­er of this farm, don’t just put your atten­tion on what has been done right; instead focus on what has been done wrong or not done at all, how­ev­er small it may be. That way, you will keep improving”

My father’s words helped me to for­ev­er embrace mis­takes instead of run­ning away from them.  Indeed, mis­takes can be price­less gifts if one choos­es nev­er to repeat any of them.

In ear­ly nineties, I once hired a car from Pres­i­dent Ruto who at the time was run­ning a busi­ness that includ­ed car hire. I used the car for about three weeks but was unable to ful­ly pay for it, which put a tem­po­rary strain on our friend­ship. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, this fail­ure to pay for the car was part of a finan­cial mis­man­age­ment pat­tern that saw me live beyond my means.

Even as the Gov­ern­ment con­tin­ues to exe­cute mea­sures that will low­er the cost of liv­ing, we must also take the indi­vid­ual respon­si­bil­i­ty to live with­in our means. This will enable us to save and invest wisely.

After a decade of mak­ing mul­ti­ple mis­takes and choos­ing not to repeat any, I approached the next 10-year peri­od with a men­tal­i­ty of pro­vid­ing tan­gi­ble solu­tions which includ­ed found­ing the Green Africa Foun­da­tion in 2000. In 2001 I was cho­sen as mem­ber of Kenya Nation­al Sports Coun­cil and Chair of Crick­et Kenya in 2004. In 2005 I was assigned CEO of the 35th IAAF World Cross Coun­try Cham­pi­onships, 2007 Mom­basa. I dili­gent­ly exe­cut­ed my duties and also remained focused on my green agen­da which led to Green Africa Foun­da­tion win­ning the pres­ti­gious Inter­na­tion­al Olympic Com­mit­tee (IOC) glob­al award for Sport and envi­ron­ment in Van­cou­ver, Cana­da in 2009.

I was able to achieve these because I applied lessons from the pre­vi­ous decade. The same applies to our nation Kenya. We must learn from the past if our future is to be bright. The recent loss of about one mil­lion jobs due to COVID demon­strates that there is an urgent need for more diver­si­ty and resilience in our economy.

By diver­si­fy­ing its econ­o­my, the Unit­ed Arab Emi­rates (UAE) has grown its econ­o­my expo­nen­tial­ly from USD47 Bil­lion in 1982 to USD417 Bil­lion in 2022. One of the many strate­gies they used was to estab­lish 45 free eco­nom­ic zones that allow 100 per­cent for­eign own­er­ship, which great­ly boost­ed For­eign Direct Invest­ments. Kenya must strate­gi­cal­ly fol­low suit to spur eco­nom­ic growth for job cre­ation and reduce the high cost of living.

Between 2011 to 2022 dur­ing my for­ties, I added a third lay­er in the tra­jec­to­ry of my growth. I embarked on a mis­sion of impact­ing soci­ety at a grander yet even more per­son­al scale. It is dur­ing this peri­od that I served as Vice Chair of Tana and Athi Riv­er Devel­op­ment Author­i­ty (TARDA), Chair­man of the Kenya Water Tow­ers Agency, height­ened my ser­vice as Founder and CEO of Green Africa Group of Com­pa­nies and ini­ti­at­ed the now huge­ly impact­ful Plant your Age Cam­paign. These ini­tia­tives have cre­at­ed mil­lions of sus­tain­able liveli­hoods and great­ly replen­ished the envi­ron­ment. Away from a mul­ti­tude of acco­lades, the great­est les­son learned in my third decade as an eco-entre­pre­neur is the impor­tance of respect for peo­ple. Respect begets truth­ful­ness. Truth is the anti­dote of bound­less relationships.

In 2023, it can­not be busi­ness as usu­al. We must embrace our Mis­takes, choose to be Prob­lem Solvers and Respect fel­low humans. I abbre­vi­ate this as MPR which appar­ent­ly means Month­ly Progress Report. Let’s apply MPR for sus­tain­able growth. Think green act green.

About Dr. Kalua Green

He is the Chief Stew­ard of Green Africa Group, a con­glom­er­ate that was envi­sioned in 1991 to con­nect, pro­duce and impact var­i­ous aspi­ra­tions of human­i­ty through Sus­tain­able Mobil­i­ty & Safe­ty Solu­tions, Eco­pre­neur­ship & Agribusi­ness, Ship­ping & Logis­tics, Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Ini­tia­tives, as well as Hos­pi­tal­i­ty & fur­nish­ings sectors

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