Why organizations must work with staff to deliver results and how KenTrade is making the difference

By Amos Wangora.

Kenya Trade Network Agency (KenTrade) joined the world in marking this year’s World Creativity and Innovation Week, set by the United Nations, to encourage the world’s turn with ingenuity. `

This year’s theme on “Collaboration”, could not have been more apt for us here at KenTrade, the state agency mandated to facilitate cross border trade and establish, manage and implement the Trade Facilitation Platform. KenTrade is heavily reliant on Innovation to offer seamless trade facilitation services with Kenya’s trade partners, and position Kenya as the ideal trade destination.

The Single Window system was officially phased out this month, ushering in the Trade Facilitation Platform (TFP). The platform will ensure more capacity and stability of the system, for all our stakeholders. We continue to upgrade our systems and digitize our operations, cognizant of the fact that the trade facilitator of the future, will be required to anticipate challenges in the system and provide solutions for the same beforehand. Indeed, the global Covid 19 pandemic has taught the world that disruptions will come, but innovation is also at the heart of how communities cope with the disruption.

At KenTrade however, we take this time to introspect, and examine where creativity and Innovation stands within the organization itself. Guided by one of our core values ‘Innovation’, The Agency seeks to be a leading organization in embracing change and continuously integrating ingenuity in our business systems, processes, and services. This process aims at ensuring that our internal mechanisms that allow for innovation to thrive among staff are well known and understood.

Indeed, the Kenya Innovation Agency, which runs the Kenya Innovation Week annually, envisions a situation where there is relevant policy engagements on innovations within institutions while promoting practical skills necessary to create innovations that impact people. CS ICT Joe Mucheru told the Kenya Innovation Week Summit last year that the creation and adoption of a culture of research, development, and innovation in Kenya is crucial for the achievement of Kenya’s overall goals as envisioned in the Vision 2030 as well as Agenda 4. He says this will improve productivity and profitability, increase competitiveness and improve brand recognition.

With this in mind, we took a deliberate step towards establishing a framework of incorporating staff in the process of innovation, given their diverse customer facing roles in delivering services to our customers. Our staff, either client facing or not are well conversant with other systems that we use to ensure a robust trade facilitation environment and hence have first-hand experience with the pain – points. This means that they would also, given a chance propose some of the ways they envision a turnaround to these challenges.

We have set out to ensure that the agency staff are alive to the fact that we recognize and reward innovation. We also want to ensure that the staff understands the innovation submission process within the agency and simplify the same, to encourage innovation.

We believe that organizations and in particular government organizations should be encouraged to develop a culture of supporting innovation internally. An article published by Forbes magazine in 2014 lays out simple steps that organizations can use to check whether they have a culture that encourages innovation in the workplace. The article indicates that these include ‘developing innovation-friendly policies and giving room for failure, supporting the ideation process, rewarding successful and non-successful ideas to encourage further attempts among others.

We believe  that as the world looks critically at Innovation through this year’s theme of ‘Collaboration’, it will resonate better when organizations lead from the front in that transformational journey.

Our guest blogger is the CEO of KenTrade




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