As Kenyans and Chinese forge business ties, enterprising Kenyan students who speak Chinese are offering themselves as translators at a fee, making communication easier between entrepreneurs from these countries.
Jane Mureithi, who learnt the skills at University of Nairobi’s Confucius Institute, has witnessed sealing of tens of business deals both in Kenya and China in her capacity as a translator.
Language barrier has been a threat to a smooth social economic tie between the two nations two years after the Kenyan President and his Chinese counterpart signed an agreement on economic and technological cooperation between the two governments as well as bilateral cooperation.
When she enrolled for Chinese classes in 2011, Mureithi never knew that her course could make business easier. “My four former classmates and I teamed up early this year to serve entrepreneurs who are yearning for translation services.
Business has been so good that we are now considering to register as a company,” said Mureithi. The five, are among few linguistic scholars in Kenya who are bridging the gap between social cultural differences and economy.
“We mainly get businesses through referrals from clients we have assisted before and Chinese embassy here in Nairobi,” explained the 26 year old entrepreneur.
She explained that they don’t have a flat rate for the service as most clients have different needs hence negotiation. She added that those requiring them to travel between the two countries are supposed to cater for transportation and accommodation.
Even so, most investment coaches in the country regret that local linguistic scholars are doing less to capture opportunities in the economic sector to create wealth.
A popular local market analyst for instance told Dhahabu Kenya that social cultural differences in cross border business provide a myriad of entrepreneurial opportunities that can create job opportunities. According to 2014 economic report in Kenya, China is the largest foreign direct investment source for Kenya and the second largest trading partner after Uganda.
According to China’s customs authorities, the bilateral trade volume reached $2.4 billion (Sh206.4 billion) in 2011 and $2.8 billion (Sh240.8 billion) in 2012. Last year, trade volumes rose to$3.27 billion (Sh281.2 billion), with the year-on-year growth rate of 15 percent.
A recent hint by Kenya Railway Corporation that China Road & Bridge Corporation, a company tasked with responsibility to construct 609.3 kilometre railway line from the port of Mombasa to Nairobi at a tune of Sh314.2 billion will be sending 5000 workers from China is good news to Mureithi’s group which is currently recruiting more translators to meet the high market demand.
Currently, at least 20 institutions in Kenya are offering Mandarin training, the Chinese training , an aspect Mureithi attributes to promising opportunities both in career and business sphere.
Introduction of translator skills in the business sector by enterprising youths in Kenya has been billed as a step in the right direction in bridging linguistic barrier costs in the global economy.
According to a recent report by the Economist Intelligence Unit, a business research unit of the Economist magazine, language and cultural difference in the world hinder five percent of international trade. The report show that Asian countries especially China as most affected.