The Ndiema Way- Values

An in-depth look at Ndiema’s fundamental purpose and core values to live by.

We all have certain principles that we live by. These values are what shape our choices and experiences. They ground us. Think back to when you were a child. Much of the person who you are today has arguably been shaped by what happened back then. You too were probably taught by your parents to be kind, to share your toys, to listen and to not break things. Simple, but very fundamental. (Ironically, in many ways, everything we ever really needed to learn, we learned back in kindergarten!) And then, as you got older, you started to learn some newer principles such as discipline, responsibility, hard work and honesty. These probably got reinforced at different times by different people and different experiences. It may have been your teachers in school, your friends and even your partners. Later on, when you became a parent, you may have found yourself passing on many of these same fundamental principles to your own children. You tell them of the stories that you were brought up on, and add some of your own to that collection. So, the cycle continues

Organisations aren’t that different. It’s no surprise really, because in essence, they really are just a collection of individuals of people like us. And by extension, our principles and stories. Organisations, too, live and grow a certain way, and abide by some fundamental principles. This is what makes them who they are.

The Ndiema Way is our story. It talks about why we exist and how we add value together. How we bring meaning to what we do. What will guide our decisions. And importantly, the mirror that we can hold up to ourselves.

 At Ndiema Group, we aspire to become an emerging markets leader and delight our consumers with superior quality, world-class products at affordable prices. Today, nearly half of our revenues come from new customers and referrals. This is up from 10 per cent back in 2020. Our footprint now extends to a variety of geographies outside Kenya. In line with our 4 by 4 approach to growth and expansion, we have a focus on four industries in Four geographies (East, Central, Southern and West Africa). Not just that, a thirds of our team members and a significant number of our customers are also based outside Kenya. As a result of all these changes, we find ourselves now navigating our way through diverse geographies, diverse cultures and diverse brands. So, as we get larger and more complex, we need to have a clearly articulated compass to guide us.

So, over the last couple of years, we have spent a lot of time reflecting on some fundamental questions. Why do we exist as an organisation? What will build the future of Ndiema Group? What is it that will inspire our team members to come to work and give their best every single day? 

Through this journey, we have spoken to hundreds of our team members from across geographies, studied global best practices and reflected as a senior leadership team. Basis these discussions, we have crafted a refreshed version of our fundamental principles, which we call ‘The Ndiema Way’. 

Our purpose

For years, One thing we’ve never let go of, is trust and being a ‘good’ company. It’s at the heart of everything we do in the Ndiema Way. It makes our word stronger than any contract. It challenges us to think beyond limits. And collectively, go beyond what’s expected. It makes us innovate and collaborate to create deeper impact and stronger bonds. It makes us continuously improve productivity and push the limits of service.

As we see it, there are many ways to do business. We choose the Goodness way. So, we have defined our purpose at Ndiema Group as – ‘Bringing the goodness of health and beauty to our Customers in emerging markets’.

Our values 

To live our purpose, we need to ensure that we are guided by the right values. We have identified six core values at Ndiema Group:

  • Trust (It’s the most important thing)
  • Be Bold
  • Create Delight
  • Own It
  • Be Humble
  • Show Respect  

1. Trust (It’s the most important thing)

  • We put People and our Planet longside Profits.
  • We hold Ourselves to the Highest Standards of Personal and
    Business Integrity.
  • Our Word is Stronger than any Contract.

Trust is the foundation that Ndiema has been built on; whether it is the quality of our products or the spirit in which we do business. Over 1.1 milion people use a Ndiema product every day – a reflection of the trust that our customers place in us. This is what makes us who we are. You will hear many stories at Ndiema about people who have been willing to do business with us, even without written contracts. That’s the kind of legacy that we are both proud and humbled to have inherited. And it is one that we need to protect and nurture.

We believe that a strong culture of trust is imperative for our success as a company. If we can become more trustworthy, it will reflect in our team members feeling more valued, engaged and inspired. Overall, we will be able to build and support a culture which encourages collaboration. So, it is absolutely critical that we foster trust in all our relationships. Never forget that you have to build and earn trust through real actions; you have to consciously work on being trustworthy. And don’t confuse authority with trust. Your team members may do something just because they report to you. But unless they fully trust you, they won’t give their best. Your team needs to believe that you are doing the right things in the best interests – of the company and for them as your team members. If people view you as a self-optimiser, then they are not going to trust you. You can’t be trusted unless you trust others and show it. Trust starts with delivering what you promise. So, be credible, walk the talk and live up to your commitments.

2. Be Bold

  • We have Bold Ambitions, We set the bar High and outperform Expectations.
  • We Champion new ideas and take Risks.
  • We continuously Research and Innovate. We adapt, We are Agile and Resilient.

In our categories, there is significant headroom for growth – both in terms of driving penetration and increasing consumption. Our geographies of focus are also projected to have many more consumers who will be seeking quality products at affordable prices. As disposable incomes increase in emerging markets, we will have millions of consumers who will seek products to look good and feel good.

So, the opportunity is tremendous. However, it requires each of us to have much stronger ambition and stretch goals. We can’t afford to be satisfied by the status quo. We must be willing to take risks and experiment. We must believe in our ability to persevere and deliver. Remember that our future will be only as good as what we do next. 

3. Create Delight

  • We place our Customers at the heart of all we do.
  • We offer our Customers amazing quality products at great value.
  • We Obsess over current and future needs of our Customers and then Deliver.

Simply put, we love delighting our customers. This is what inspires us to keep innovating, to be able to offer more superior quality, world class products. Think about Ndiema Software Expert , which has been one of our biggest successes in recent times. Not only that – the product quality, innovation and the shine and conditioning benefits were better than much more expensive products.  We have also kept on improving distribution to ensure that the products are accessible and available everywhere.

4. Own It

  • We are 100/0 and Take 100% Accountability with 0 Excuses.
  •  We Speak our Mind and challenge the status quo.
  • We Focus on the Details, but never Forget the bigger Picture.

This is our company. And we need to take full responsibility for both our successes as well as our mistakes. This is not about blame games or feeling victimised. Instead, if you want to make things happen, or push for change, then just roll up your sleeves and do it.

5. Be Humble 

  • We ask for Feedback And then Grow with it.
  • We Own up to and Learn from our Mistakes.
  • We give Credit wherever Due.

You may have read the quote, “humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less”. And it is probably best captured in the philosophy of ‘servant leadership’. For some of us, the idea of leaders being servants could be a bit of a paradox. Leaders are meant to be heroes; they are supposed to exude power. But you need to remember that there are two sides to this idea – the servant and the leader – and you are expected to play both roles. As leaders, we are expected to be tough in terms of laying out the direction for our company. We need to be rigorous in defining values, setting accountability and demanding the highest standards of performance. But once we have defined the direction, our roles should be centred around serving our team members – understanding their needs and enabling them to become the best so that they can accomplish the desired objectives that we have set. That is the essence of being a servant leader.

So, share credit for successes, and learn to take responsibility when things go wrong. Reflect on whether you are really able to recognise your limitations and seek feedback. And without humility, you just can’t learn. Ask yourself – How forgiving are you, really? Can you readily apologise when you’re wrong? Do you practice gratitude?

6. Show Respect

  • We Embrace and celebrate Diversity.
  • We treat People like we would want to be Treated.
  • We Foster Collaborations and Partnerships.

This is arguably the toughest of all our values because there can be so many shades of grey. Like with trust, you have to earn respect. Remember that while people can be respectful of your title or authority, it doesn’t mean that they respect you. Respect is a two-way street. So, be mindful of how you are perceived by others. But don’t mistake this for a popularity contest. You have to be authentic, and fair and take tough decisions.

Respect also links closely to our commitment to becoming more diverse and inclusive. Given how intrinsically this is, not just to our legacy and values, but also our growth strategy and aspirations, we strongly believe there is much more that we need to do as a company. We must be able to change in step with this; empathise with and empower our colleagues, team members and consumers. Without this, we will be unable to tap into the tremendous potential that their diverse perspectives offer. In short, we cannot be effective leaders without being truly inclusive. And we owe it to our legacy, to lead Ndiema into a more inspiring and inclusive tomorrow.

Over the next couple of months, our senior team will travel across, to share our perspectives on The Ndiema Way and ask for your thoughts on what we can do to truly live this every day. Last week, our teams  spoke to our team members in Uganda and Rwanda. We shared stories about individuals and team members who have been great examples of living the Ndiema  Way. It was great to see how this resonated with our team members. Our HR team has also started conducting small-group workshops to enable more deeper reflection and discussion.

It is really important, as we recommit to these values, that we don’t allow them to become posters on walls.

“Our values are both about who we are and what we want to be. So, they aren’t static. They must be lived and tried every day – and we need to keep on improving on how we act on them. They need to be our compass when things are going right, but more importantly, when things aren’t – when we need to make the difficult choices, and have the tough conversations.”

They may even cost us at times. But this is how we will keep improving and building new muscle. This is how we will challenge ourselves and find new ways to raise our bar.