Strategy formulation practices of Utendo Women's group in Kitui Kenya
The concept of Strategy Formulation has been garnering attention in Kenya over the past few years. Not only academics, but also policy makers are beginning to embrace the concept as a front-running solution to society’s pressing social problems. There is, however, a need for empirical validation of the concept of Strategy Formulation beyond the existing theories behind it. This research sought to examine whether Strategy Formulation, coupled with strategy as an integral aspect of strategic management can live up to its big name and primary goals. The focus of this research was a group of highly skilled Akamba craftswomen of Kitui County in Kenya registered as Utendo Women’s Group. The products are sold within the local market, across the country. Despite local and international interest in their craft products, the income generated by the craftswomen has greatly declined over the past years and thus not a sustainable source of livelihood for them. Having identified the need for improved quality of life for the craftswomen as the main social problem, this research aimed at investigating the existing gaps in the group’s strategy formulation process craft products and identify the likely constraints in setting up a strategic approach to the development of their products. The study also sought to examine the integral role that strategy would play in the development, marketing and sale of new products by the craftswomen. The research aimed at exploring possible channels of new market penetration, both locally and internationally so as to create a sustainable source of income and consequently improved quality of life for the craftswomen. The research aimed at using an empirical approach to problem-solving. The research methodology used was based on direct interaction focus group discussions with the craftswomen order to adequately understand the status quo. The study found that there were underlying strategy issues that were linked to the group’s strategy formulation practices. Lack of strategy implementation measures were also found to be a major strategic management issue. The findings from this research can be used by the Export Promotion Council (EPC) of Kenya to gain a better understanding of the existing constraints in product development and promotion by craft organisations in Kenya, particularly in rural areas. The Maasai Market Empowerment Trust (MMET), an NGO for artisans at the Maasai Market and other parts of the country, can use the findings of this research to organise seminars, campaigns, workshops and other awareness programmes in rural areas where such information is scarce. The study will also serve as a source of reference for future research work as well as a basis of further study.