I recently visited Nairobi, Walmart’s newest retail market, and had the opportunity to attend the Global Entrepreneurship Summit and events surrounding President Obama’s recent visit to Kenya. Besides meeting the President (it was awesome!) and moderating a panel discussion on how small and medium size suppliers can access Walmart’s global supply chain, I also participated in a graduation ceremony with 40 trainees from EARN, the Walmart Foundation’s retail training program, toured our new Game store in Nairobi and met our four local International Procurement Logistics (IPL) associates. After my week spent in the area, I learned a few things about our new market:
1. The two official languages in Kenya are English and Swahili. We had a great guide around Nairobi who told us to call him Peter, but his Swahili name was Towet.
2. Agriculture is important to Kenya's economy, and Walmart’s sourcing arm, International Procurement Logistics, purchases vegetables and flowers from Kenya for Walmart stores around the world.
3. In Africa, our subsidiary is Massmart, and we operate stores under multiple banners, including Game, DionWired, Makro, Jumbo, Builders and others.
4. Our first store in Kenya is a Game store, a general merchandise store with grocery, serving the capital city of Nairobi with more than 3.1 million people.
5. Kenya gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1963, but some traditions from the U.K. still persist, like a love for tea. In most meetings I attended, tea was offered instead of coffee.
6. Kenya is known for its parks and wildlife sightings – no coincidence that the best-selling category at our Nairobi Game store is camping gear.
Walmart serves 27 countries outside the U.S. with more than 6,100 stores under 65 banners. Every trip I take allows me to learn more about the markets we serve and the people who shop with us, as well as the good Walmart can bring to the communities we call home.