Diplomatic Protocol Firm Comes to Kenya
Toriah Group offers end-to-end coordination and management for diplomatic events such as national/independence days, hosting delegations, stakeholder meetings and communications management, ROBIN OBINO reports.
A Firm that specialises in providing protocol services to diplomatic missions, United Nation agencies and expatriate organisations in Kenya has found a niche in Nairobi.
Toriah Group provides an efficient and seamless service to the dozens of embassies and diplomatic missions, which face hassles when organising national days and other anniversaries or host officials and business delegations from their home countries.
According to the Group founder and Chief Executive Officer, Ms Benine Muriithi, her passion for problem-solving with minimum distraction is what drove her to the rare field niche of offering consultancy services in diplomatic matters, protocol and business etiquette. She offers courses on the same too.
With her vast experience gained from the United Nations in different parts of the world having worked with the organisation as a communication specialist for over 10 years, Muriithi realised there was a huge gap in observing international protocol and diplomatic conduct in the country.
Toriah Group specialises in three main areas; consultancy, training and diplomatic event management. “I realised that many institutions and government departments only engage in public relations with most outsourcing these services. I thought of how to bridge this gap,” she says.
The Group’s main objective is to offer tailor-made services to satisfy its clients’ individual requirements to ensure its message, presence and requirements are met.
“We offer end-to-end event coordination and management for diplomatic events such as national/independence days, hosting delegations, stakeholder meetings with dignitaries as well as communications management, speech writing, public relations and media. Our customer base is drawn from embassies, high commissions, delegates and governments,” says Muriithi.
Additionally, the Group offers diplomatic protocol and soft skill training to government departments, the diplomatic corps and the private sector. The training involves courses in Executive Etiquette, Protocol, International Protocol and Business Etiquette Series, Extreme Etiquette for Young Professionals, Extreme Etiquette for College students, Dining Etiquette Essentials, Tea Etiquette and Etiquette Skills for Single men and women.
“We offer this customised training to assist corporations, organisations, schools and individuals to master social etiquette, business and international protocol, and dining etiquette skills. Clients leave our courses with propriety skills that enhance their comfort level in the conference room, the dining room or wherever career or social obligations may lead them to,” says Muriithi. This is what makes the firm unique.
Indeed, complaints by diplomatic missions and embassies over lack response from government departments have come to the limelight in recent months.
Delays in answering queries and being tossed from one government department to another are some of the headaches diplomats routinely face. Matters such as who to invite from the government, who should prepare the speeches, what happens when the chief guest fails to turn up, how to engage hotels which fall short of expectations and how to clear visiting VIPs at airports are some of the hurdles that embassies/missions also encounter.
These are some the matters that Toriah Group addresses. Its philosophy, says Muriithi is based on the principle that since 85 per cent of success in business is based on people-skills, demeanour and social conduct, these are as important as education and training, technical abilities and professional competence.
Though the future of the business looks bright, it faces one major challenge, concedes Muriithi. “Other than foreigners, the rest of the population is insensitive to matters protocol and nuances in the different cultures. They, therefore, see no need for this kind of training.”
Toriah Group is widening its network by incorporating other partners. The Group is currently working in collaboration with the First Lady Margaret Kenyatta’s Beyond Zero Campaign Team.
Ms Muriithi praises the government’s support to micro-enterprises but thinks more can be done. “The government is doing a great job by creating avenues such as the Micro-Enterprises Support Programme Trust (MESPT) and the Youth Fund, both of which are aimed at the growth of young entrepreneurs.
“The government should, for instance, come up with an initiative to help young people identify something unique which is easily found within their environment and add value to it. Follow-up mechanisms also need to be put in place to track down the progress of young entrepreneurs. Support needs to continue once young people have finished their training, to enable them face any challenges they may encounter. Not just facilitating them,” she says.
The government has implemented wide-ranging strategies to encourage youth to initiate their own small businesses. The major focus for this effort is small enterprise development (SED).
Small enterprise development in Kenya has traditionally involved establishing an enabling environment for their growth including analysis and adjustments to the regulatory environment that has been a hindrance to prospective business owners.
Ms Muriithi is currently focused on sensitizing more people about the need for a breakdown of cross-cultural barriers, and to understand them for a seamless integration. “The world, as it is today, is one ‘big town’ and we need this kind of integration.”
In the long-term, Toriah Group is set to become the contact centre not only within the country but also regionally. Plans to expand the business are underway.