A Japanese concept that sums up Kina’s ethos
Have you ever heard of the Japanese concept of nemawashi? No? Neither had I till I spoke to a Japanese client of mine the other day. Nemawashi, she explained to me, is an informal process of quietly laying the foundation for some proposed change or project by talking to the people concerned, gathering support and getting feedback. The Japanese consider it a fundamental first step before any major change or project gets underway. Successful nemawashi means that changes can be carried out with the support and consent of all sides.
I think this neatly encapsulates the work Kina does for its clients. We help to build consensus and trust between the companies that want to invest in African countries, and the governments and societies that will influence or be affected by those investments. We prepare the ground for our clients and make sure that, from the very outset, business, government and society understand each other’s fundamental motivations and needs. A successful, long-term business cannot be built without this understanding – this nemawashi.
Going around the roots
The literal translation of nemawashi is “going around the roots”. It refers to the process whereby – before you transplant a tree – you gradually introduce soil to it from the new location. By doing so you get the tree accustomed to the new location, before you move it.
At Kina we “go around the roots” on behalf of our clients. We believe in a gradual process of acclimatising them to the countries in which they plan to operate. We help to forge links between them – ‘the company’, and the government and society in the countries where they wish to operate. These links are based on mutual understanding and respect.
Our triangular theory
We call this our triangular theory of doing business: It is founded on the idea that the key to unlocking long-term profits in African countries is to understand how governments, business and wider society interact with one another. It’s not just about having conversations with governments and society, it’s about having the right conversations. In fact, it’s all about nemawashi.
Rosalind Kainyah, MBE, Founder and Managing Director