Deploying executive coaching to drive growth in Kenyan SGBs

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The Argidius-ANDE Talent Challenge (AATC)

Finding talented managers is a critical challenge for entrepreneurs everywhere, but it is especially difficult in emerging markets. The Argidius Foundation and the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) Talent Challenge identified five promising solutions to the human capital constraints faced by small and growing businesses (SGBs). Creative Metier was selected alongside Amani Institute, Open Capital Advisors, Shortlist and Village Capital as winners. Winners were selected based on the clarity, feasibility, capacity, expected impact and scalability of the proposed solution.

Creative Metier’s Prize Winning Solution

To develop the market for executive coaching for Kenyan SGBs, by working with professionally qualified local executive coaches to support SGB senior leadership and orientate local coaching firms (who are themselves micro or small businesses), to deliver an ongoing service to the SGB market.

Program Design and Features

The program was designed to demonstrate the potential of executive coaching for SGBs, and the potential of a market development approach to deliver a sustainable supply of professional services to SGBs by addressing key market constraints including supply, demand and lack of information. Ten SGBs were competitively selected to represent the diversity of SGB business types and structures, with coaching firms selected for their potential to deliver a high quality and sustainable service to the SGB market.

Business Growth and Resilience

The Kenyan business environment was particularly challenging for SGBs during 2017/18 with a severe and sustained slowdown of the economy due to political shocks, severe drought, and other socio-economic factors. Despite this, SGBs engaged in the program reported increased revenues and employment (on average). Nine out of the ten participating SGBs reported that their better than expected performance was due to the executive coaching, with the coaching sessions contributing to greater business resilience.

Ecosystem Impact

The program delivered proof of concept with the SGBs achieving significant business results and reporting the value of executive coaching in achieving these outcomes. At the end of the program, participating SGBs had identified unmet financing needs to build on their success which demonstrated the program’s potential value in creating a pipeline for investment and engagement with accelerators. Whilst the SGBs recognize the value of executive coaching, and will use coaching services in the future, there is a mismatch between what they are able to pay and the fees that the coaches need to charge. There are however indicators that market forces are resolving this gap as the supply of qualified coaches increases and prices soften, while the value attributed to coaching increases as a result of ecosystem level interventions such as this program.

The growth and resilience achieved by the SGBs, opportunity for financing and emerging balancing of the supply and  for this powerful professional service shows the strength and sustainability of Creative Metier’s market based approach.

The SGBs:


Manufacturers of woven polypropylene sacks and fabrics known for their tensile strength, dimensional stability and wear resistance exporting regionally and internationally

Read our interview with Saheel


Software Product Development firm, specializing in systems integration, support, and software development for retail, identity management, fraud and loss prevention

Deepa Dosaja

Designs and manufactures high quality bespoke and off-the-rack clothing collections; aims to become one of the largest fashion design houses in Africa

Read our interview with Deepa

Harmony Solutions

Delivers professional management development and executive education programs. Aims to be the leading provider of IT management solutions in East Africa

Markmann & Co

Specialists in fleet management and industrial control equipment such as Digital Speed Governors providing customized solutions for the corporate sector in Kenya & East Africa

Read our interview with Saidi

Merry Cliff School

Providing quality education for junior children from low income homes from Mukuru kwa Njenga for more than 11 years

Read our interview with Felix

Works with highly skilled African artisans to produce handcrafted home décor, gift packages, and accessories, for local hotels, chain stores in the US and UK and for global importers

Read our interview with Zohra

Offers affordable micro financial products and services to low- to middle- income individuals and businesses in Kenya to raise living standards and bridge the financial gap

Designs, produces, brands and personalizes wooden gifts from sustainable sources of timber for the individual and corporate markets

Specialists in construction, fit-out and refurbishment from new builds, extensions and full renovations to office fit-outs and small works

The funders:

Argidius aims to help entrepreneurs to build profitable businesses and contribute to the sustainable development of their communities. We do so by improving the effectiveness and reach of small and medium enterprise capacity development services.

The Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) is a global network of organizations that propel entrepreneurship in emerging markets. ANDE members provide critical financial, educational, and business support services to small and growing businesses (SGBs) based on the conviction that SGBs will create jobs, stimulate long-term economic growth, and produce environmental and social benefits. Ultimately, we believe that SGBs can help lift countries out of poverty. ANDE is part of the Aspen Institute, a nonpartisan forum for values-based leadership and the exchange of ideas.