Meet Naomi Kipkorir and Annette Kimitei, the mother-daughter team leading Senaca East Africa, and Peter Francis, lecturer at Stanford Graduate School of Business, and hear about finding success and navigating succession in a family run business.
Family dynamics can be challenging, not to mention, emotional. But when you add in a business, things can get even more complicated. Especially when the entire family is involved. That’s the story behind Senaca EA, a private security company headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya. Founded by Naomi’s husband, an ex-policeman, the business started in 2002 as a side hustle and now it’s a full-time, all-in-the-family-of five affair.
After a failed merger with a European company, the family literally came together to pull their company back from the brink. Thinking about family succession came next. And as Annette learned, “succession is not one event, it’s a process.” Formalizing corporate governance is key to that process, which for Senaca begins with introducing advisory board members that have skill sets the business is missing, and eventually independent directors.
Peter Francis fully supports that plan. And he knows from experience; his family run business has been going for six generations. Peter uses that firsthand knowledge to teach a class called The Yin and Yang of Family Business Transition at Stanford. Because issues that arise in a family business can often turn emotional, Peter advises seeking outside expertise, and relying on education, transparency, and communication to handle tough issues.
“If you're having a conversation about the business at home you might say, "you know what, we're home, we should be wearing our family hat, not our business hat". And then communication... I don't mean just communicating, but also learning how to communicate. That is a muscle that we can strengthen in the family.”
Listen to Naomi and Annette’s family story and Peter’s business insights to help think about your own company’s succession and governance plans.
Senaca East Africa: https://senacaworld.com
Annette Kimitei: https://www.linkedin.com/in/annette-kimitei-70594249/?originalSubdomain=ke
Peter Francis: https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/faculty-research/faculty/peter-t-francis
Stanford Seed: https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/seed
Poza, E. & Daugherty, M. (2014). Family Business, 4th Edition. Mason, OH: South-Western Centage Learning,
Gersick, K., Davis, J., Hampton, M. & Lansberg, I. (1999). Succeeding Generations: Realizing the Dream of Families in Business, Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press
Ward, J. L. (2004), Perpetuating the Family Business: 50 Lessons Learned from Long-Lasting Successful Families in Business, New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan
Montemerlo, D. & Ward, J. (2011). The Family Constitution: Agreements to Secure and Perpetuate Your Family and Your Business. Family Business Leadership Series, No. 20, Marietta, GA: Family Enterprise Publishers