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Old 09-18-2013, 07:57 AM
 
Location: New York City
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Kenya has one of the most developed economies in Africa. There’s a lot of money there and the people in those photos would be considered upper (or at least upper-middle) class in an African context.

Educated Africans tend to dress quite formally (especially given the climate). In the cities it’s common to see men in suits—albeit cheap and ill fitting suits, but suits nonetheless.

It’s partly a legacy of the British (or what Africans imagine the British to be like) and partly a cultural tradition of dressing up.
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Old 09-18-2013, 03:08 PM
 
Location: Milwaukee
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jtur88 View Post
America did not truly have an expansive middle class until we advanced beyond the stage at which consumer products were made by local handcrafters. When American clothing was made to order by a tailor or a seamstress, most Americana had only one respectable suit of clothes, and wore the same thing every day to work or to school, and clothing was affordable only if the women of the house made their own. Clothing was a very expensive commodity before the era of mass-produced assembly-line clothing and synthetic textiles..
Mass production bringing down prices of goods pretty much applies to everything. Even buying in bulk, why massive stores like Sam's Club are so successful.

With respects to the clothing I agree with you that bespoke clothing is more expensive. To this very day a full canvas suit tailored to the individual will cost thousands of dollars sometimes. No middle-class American can afford to buy a suit at one of the prestigious and centuries old shops on London's Savile Row. Only the rich in the U.S., England, and around the world can buy their. Same with some of the prestigious tailoring shops in Italy.

There is a way around some of this though today, at least in the West. I remember an ad was in the Milwaukee Journal for a 3 day or so event in which many Chinese tailors from China would be at some convention center in the city measuring, cutting, and sewing up bespoke suits for men of the more discernible taste that can't (or don't want to) plunk down $2,000 for a tailored made suit. I think they were making them for $300 or $400.

I presume some American brought those Chinese tailors over here, taking them from city to city, and getting a cut of the bread. But that's my assumption.

Quote:
Kenya today has a chance for a middle class only because a great majority of Kenyans have access to donated American clothing, shipped over by thrift shop organizations, or is made very cheaply in off-shore assembly in countries where wages are as low as in Kenya. If you walk through a crowd in an African marketplace, you will see that nearly every person is wearing a T-shirt that says Chicago Bulls or Pizza Hut or Hollister on the front, all surplus donated articles shipped over in bales by Goodwill or Salvation Arny. America clothes the world.
Hmm... I agree with you about the mass production of clothing or the mass production of anything (although very often mass production comes with a reduction in quality), prices fall, but that is in large part because there are significant reductions in man hours producing the finished.

I disagree with your premise that Kenya's growing middle-class is a direct result, contingent on, clothing donated from the United States.

First of all, a lot of the inexpensive clothing we wear in the United States is not even made over hear in the U.S., but a lot of it is mass produced in Asia. And in Southern Italy the Camorra mafia is notorious for running Chinese sweat shops with talented Chinese tailors, forging brand names on the clothing, and shipping them to the United States where almost every central city clothing store from New York City to Chicago to L.A. buys and hangs them on the racks to sell to an unwitting American public. From this clothing hustle alone, the Camorra in Southern Italy rakes in billions of dollars.

Home ownership is really what helped create the U.S. middle-class. But even home ownership was tied in to improving wages. And improvement in wages were tied in to organized labor. But all of that was contingent on private and public infrastructural development. Roads, rivers, train track, buildings and machinery for manufacturing.

Empires were successful because they mandated that colonies like those of the North America only trade with their "mother country," and they set the price limit on what the colonies could charge them for their raw goods, in fact the colonies were used only or primarily for their raw, unfinished goods, what many would term "resources." Then the mother country turned those raw goods into finished products and shipped them not only across the world but back to their colonies and sold them at profitable prices.

This is a big reason merchants in the American colonies revolted against the British and started the Revolutionary War.

Africa, Asia, and Latin America have been used for centuries then decades by the powers of Europe and the United States as neo-colonial societies from which they bought cheap raw goods and then turned them into finished products to sell on the domestic market as well as export overseas.

What has been crucial for nations like Brazil and India is developing their own domestic markets and not being reliant on buying all their finished goods from the United States and Europe.

Brazil has a thriving domestic market in clothing. In fact, I think little of their clothing is imported in from the U.S. and elsewhere.

The Kenyans will need to develop their own manufacturing companies supplying their own domestic markets. Small neighborhood stalls or shops selling bespoke jeans and shirts made part-time by the owner or family of the stall or shop won't hurt either.
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Old 09-18-2013, 04:11 PM
 
Location: Milwaukee
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I know this is a thread on Kenya, so, I don't want to take away from that. But given much of the conversation in the thread has centered upon import/export and clothing and domestic markets or lack their of... I think Brazil can provide an example of protecting domestic markets while opening up to the importation of foreign goods.

When the United States broke from England one of its early moves was to protect its domestic markets by placing up protective tariffs (high taxes on imported goods). Brazil has implemented protective tariffs for many years, on certain goods. Not surprisingly this angered the U.S. Government and U.S. businesses that wanted to flood Brazil with U.S. goods. They claimed Brazil was damning itself to hell and would collapse overnight. The exact opposite occurred.

For foreign luxury clothing goods Brazil has placed up high protective taxes.


Brazil's luxury market growing - YouTube

For clothing the average Brazilian can afford almost all Brazilian clothing is produced in Brazil by Brazilians.

Inside Brazil's Booming Fashion Industry - BoF - The Business of Fashion

Quote:
But the signs of growth are equally impressive on the domestic front: amongst the so-called BRIC countries, Brazil is the only one with a major fashion industry of its own. There are countless Brazilian ready-to-wear and accessory brands which have been highly successful with domestic consumers and are now setting their sights outside Brazil.
Quote:
The Advantages of Insularity: A Strong Domestic Market

Brazilís growing national pride, combined with the countryís relative geographic isolation, has had a positive effect on the countryís domestic fashion market. Sara Andrade, the influential fashion editor of Vogue Portugal, thinks Brazilís self-reliance is one of the countryís greatest assets. ďOne of the things Brazil has working for it is that itís a country that really supports their own ó their own production, their own artists, and even their own trade. That makes it less dependent on other countries.Ē

This plays out in the shopping malls, as well. Indeed, Brazilian consumers seem to bet on their own designers, as much as they do on foreign brands. Even those who can afford to buy from big European houses like Prada or Valentino, deliberately seek out Brazilian designers.

Because of strong and sustained internal demand, domestic fashion businesses that have been around for 5-10 years are now reaching a certain maturation point, expanding their reach with diffusion lines and new stores. Oskar Metsavahtís wildly successful label Osklen is a good case in point.

Osklen offers well-made directional design that is wearable and thereby accessible to a wide audience. And even though itís far from inexpensive (an Osklen t-shirt can cost 700 Reais, or almost US$400, while dresses and signature pieces often run much higher), the labelís clothes are still more affordable than foreign fashion, due in part to Brazilís extremely high import duties. Indeed, to gauge the companyís success itís enough to look down: everyone in S„o Paulo seems to be wearing Osklen shoes, easily recognizable by a stripe on their sole.
And Brazilian jeans and Brazilian style jeans has hit the U.S. and European markets with popularity for young women.

Main Page: Brazilian Jeans, low rise jeans, low cut denim, levanta cola, skinny jeans - brazilian jeans, brazilian fitness wear

The point here is that Kenya needs to continue to develop its own domestic industries that produce from within its country.

Some good it needs to import and would be cheaper to import. Other goods it can produce on its own, and place up protective import taxes.
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Old 09-29-2013, 04:28 PM
 
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Wow, people are seriously attributing donations to the rise of the Kenyan middle class! People are so clueless! Like the idea of some Africans being self-sufficient is too perplexing to wrap your heads around...

In Nairobi, there actually are many office buildings and a banking sector. There are several business districts such as downtown, Upper Hill, the Westlands and the area near the airport. Upper Hill and the Westlands in particular especially have seen a lot of new construction going. There are SEVERAL large shopping malls in the city. The middle and high end real estate market of the Nairobi area has been booming for the last 10 years; while some slums are in the process of being upgraded.

Here is a link to picture threads that shows the development going on demonstrating notable growth:
Urban Kenya - SkyscraperCity
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Old 09-30-2013, 05:14 AM
 
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Here's some sources for those out there who want actually want accurate information:

"Rapid urbanisation, population growth and expansion of the middle class have emerged as the main drivers of Kenya’s property market":
High returns lure firms to real estate investments - Corporate News - businessdailyafrica.com

And here's a video showing the middle class in action in Nairobi from 2008:


Middle class sprawls in Nairobi, Kenya - YouTube
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Old 10-01-2013, 07:22 AM
 
Location: Victoria TX
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PrestigiousReputability View Post
Here's some sources for those out there who want actually want accurate information:
What makes you think that, finally, "accurate information" can come only from WorldFocus, an organization that failed after less than two years, and is now just another member of the motley group of tabloid video sources struggling to survive. Since when does Truth, Objectivity and Accuracy have any value to such news organizations? This is Media Catechism, running amok.

As the video makes clear, Nina can do well in her "middle class" only because there is a cheap labor pool, including her driver, for her and the rest of her Ayn-Rand go-getters to exploit. They live, umm, elsewhere, behind the cameras, somewhere that is not middle class.

Is it because WorldFocus has presented what you hope is true, and is therefore found "accurate"? WorldFocus could have gone to almost any national capital in the world and found Ninas drinking starbucks off polished formica, by a "friendly waitress with a reputation for fast service". Nina is not "middle class", she has a bloody chauffeur and is a branch manager.

According to the narrator, about 3% of Kenyans are an undefined middle class, which could simply mean above a very low poverty line. That 3% possesses nearly all the wealth, with which they buy Javas, while her driver's mother carries water in jugs from a village well somewhere. I wonder how her village life is going to be made better by those "high returns that are luring firms to real estate investments" to Kenya.

Last edited by jtur88; 10-01-2013 at 07:41 AM..
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Old 10-01-2013, 08:10 AM
 
Location: Niceville, FL
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Kenya also has a booming tech industry and some of the most advanced mobile banking systems in the (unqualified) world. I suspect that their government wants to emphasize and build on their success in those sectors where they're currently very strong instead of being just one of many low wage factory locations. 17 million M-Pesa accounts in Kenya so far in a population of 43 million, as Kenyans tie banking services to their cell phone accounts.

M-Pesa - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The middle class in Africa is growing quickly. But it's not the equivalent of North American/EU middle class. Middle class in much of Africa is living on $4,000 a year. This gets you your cell phone, which is necessary in a place where land lines were always reserved for the rich. You've reached the stage where you can pay school fees for primary and secondary years for your 3.1 kids but university is probably still financially out of reach unless scholarships are involved (African birth rates crater when you get urbanization, probably because home is a 2-3 room concrete block apartment building with a bathroom down the hall). But you've got your satellite dish pointed off the apartment balcony in the right direction so your family can watch premiere league football and subtitled Brazilian & Mexican telenovelas so life is good. Maybe if the power grid blackouts seem to be going away in a year or two, it will finally be worth it to buy a small refrigerator for the kitchen.


The average American would view their lives as squalor or not too different from the two years in college they spent living in a frat house, but it's a big improvement over the subsistence farming days when pastorialism really sucked.
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Old 10-01-2013, 10:18 AM
 
530 posts, read 1,082,325 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jtur88 View Post
What makes you think that, finally, "accurate information" can come only from WorldFocus, an organization that failed after less than two years, and is now just another member of the motley group of tabloid video sources struggling to survive. Since when does Truth, Objectivity and Accuracy have any value to such news organizations? This is Media Catechism, running amok.

As the video makes clear, Nina can do well in her "middle class" only because there is a cheap labor pool, including her driver, for her and the rest of her Ayn-Rand go-getters to exploit. They live, umm, elsewhere, behind the cameras, somewhere that is not middle class.

Is it because WorldFocus has presented what you hope is true, and is therefore found "accurate"? WorldFocus could have gone to almost any national capital in the world and found Ninas drinking starbucks off polished formica, by a "friendly waitress with a reputation for fast service". Nina is not "middle class", she has a bloody chauffeur and is a branch manager.

According to the narrator, about 3% of Kenyans are an undefined middle class, which could simply mean above a very low poverty line. That 3% possesses nearly all the wealth, with which they buy Javas, while her driver's mother carries water in jugs from a village well somewhere. I wonder how her village life is going to be made better by those "high returns that are luring firms to real estate investments" to Kenya.
OK, so prove that the Kenyan Middle class is mainly fueled by used unwanted American clothes then!?

If you want to deny the people who were interviewed in the story for whatever reason then fine, no problem...do whatever makes ya feel good. BUT you can't deny that there were many office buildings shown throughout the video with the streets FILLED to the brim with well-dressed busy Kenyans.

To make things clearer: I'm not debating how large the middle class is there. I'm just trying to show you how it's extremely ignorant to say that the middle class that are present there; are mainly there just b/c of used donated crap. That's just unfounded misinformation.

And as you already admitted, Kenya has a very low cost of labor. Developing countries in general have a very low cost of labor and that allows middle class people to have luxuries like a shouffour, housekeeper and other things that middle class people in developing rarely have. South Africa is a perfect example of this, a huge portion of the middle income population have a housekeeper.
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Old 10-01-2013, 02:21 PM
 
Location: Maryland
18,626 posts, read 16,469,740 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PrestigiousReputability View Post
Wow, people are seriously attributing donations to the rise of the Kenyan middle class! People are so clueless! Like the idea of some Africans being self-sufficient is too perplexing to wrap your heads around...

In Nairobi, there actually are many office buildings and a banking sector. There are several business districts such as downtown, Upper Hill, the Westlands and the area near the airport. Upper Hill and the Westlands in particular especially have seen a lot of new construction going. There are SEVERAL large shopping malls in the city. The middle and high end real estate market of the Nairobi area has been booming for the last 10 years; while some slums are in the process of being upgraded.

Here is a link to picture threads that shows the development going on demonstrating notable growth:
Urban Kenya - SkyscraperCity
Yeah and most are built by Israeli or other foreign firms. Let me know when African engineering and ingenuity builds these great skyscrapers then we can talk.
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Old 10-01-2013, 07:15 PM
 
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Originally Posted by EdwardA View Post
Yeah and most are built by Israeli or other foreign firms. Let me know when African engineering and ingenuity builds these great skyscrapers then we can talk.
What does this have to the thread? Please stay on topic.

And it's called foreign investment. We are in a global economy: all throughout both the developing&developing world, foreign companies invest in other nations and happen to end up building structures; this is nothing new and nothing exclusive with Africa. Foreign investment is usually a good thing for a plethora of obvious reasons..

And it's not a problem since almost all of them hire natives. Some major Kenyan companies such as Uchumi Supermarkets, Transcentury Group, Resolution Insurance, OLX, Centum Investments, etc, etc, etc; were even founded and are currently ran by a native.

- Where I currently live in America [Buffalo NY], UK-based HSBC is the largest corporate employer with the tallest building in the city....so what!
- Hell, even many (if not most) countries in the entire world are flooded with American/foriegn businesses which built structures.. so what!

And nations like Kenya are in the primary stages of development so they don't yet have the quantity of skilled labor and capital for there to be a competitive advantage in a lot of fields (such as engineering, construction and high-tech fields); so its expected that overseas architects are responsible for many of the projects. Natives eventually learn vital skills from them, branch off and do their own things. A good example of this is the number of native large-scale property developers in Nairobi.

Why are some ppl so threatened by the obvious growth of a Kenyan middle class? Gosh, its not that serious, lol. Relax everyone!

Last edited by PrestigiousReputability; 10-01-2013 at 08:13 PM..
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