Financial technology innovations have forced a shift in traditional financial services paradigms and prompted large financial institutions to re-evaluate how they do business. The outsized impact that fintechs have had on the industry over the years has not only been disruptive, but quantifiable. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a game-changer for digital financial services. Low-income households and small firms have benefited greatly from advances in mobile money, fintech services, and online banking. Financial inclusion as a result of digital financial services can also boost economic growth. While the pandemic is set to increase the use of these services, it has also posed challenges for the growth of the industry’s smaller players and highlighted unequal access to digital infrastructure.
Great strides have been made toward financial inclusion and 1.2 billion adults worldwide have gotten access to an account since 2011. Today, over 69% of adults have an account. Moving from access to account to account usage is the next step for countries where 80% or more of the population have accounts (China, Kenya, India, Thailand). These countries relied on reforms, private sector innovation, and a push to open low-cost accounts, including mobile and digitally-enabled payments. With that in mind, here are five fintech and financial inclusion trends to keep an eye on.
Trend 1: Breaking the brick and mortar securely
Although fintech and big data have had an outsized impact on traditional banks, the microfinance sector has not been immune to the sea change effects that have resulted from the rise of these digital technologies. Traditional banking models, which rely heavily on profits earned from transaction fees and require customers to physically come to branches to do their banking, are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Such models are giving way to a new space carved out by fintech innovations, where customers can expect service providers to offer practical, clear-use products that cater to their needs; where making transfers, payments and remittances can be done without a fee and financial services can be accessed remotely on mobile devices.
Fintech innovations are bringing banking closer to where people live and work, and offering them more customised options. Despite their utility, innovative technologies do have some inherent flaws. In Kenya, for example, the growing popularity of digital credit accessed through mobile phone apps has brought with it increasing incidences of identity fraud. According to a recent report issued by MSC, rapid loan approvals and the ease of acquiring personal data are the key drivers of this trend. Additionally, clear guidelines governing privacy protection and sharing data are lacking in many markets that offer digital credit. Finally, in Kenya, the decreased costs of delivering digital credit at scale have not trickled down to the consumer and the interest rates offered by the various digital lenders on the market are erratic and are often not less than what traditional financial services providers offer.
Trend 2: Financial Industry Collaboration
Innovative fintech products are challenging the dominion traditional lending institutions have over others within the financial services sector and will continue to level the playing field within the industry. And while fintech organisations have been disruptive, they don’t have to be the death knell for banks. Quite the contrary – when fintech and banks collaborate, they can create impactful new financial products and channels that better serve existing clients and help expand outreach.
The reality is, banks need tech firms – especially when they can’t develop digital products and services in-house. Fintechs also need banking partners to reach their full potential, and they need them much more than many people realise. In many markets, a banking licence is needed to directly provide most financial services. This is something most fintech do not have. Even when a fintech manages to obtain a banking licence, providing loans from its balance sheet is a complicated process. Most fintechs don’t want to become banks. They want to be fintechs. Financial institutions provide stability, and they also have advantages in distribution, savings, customer experience and marketing that fintech firms struggle to replicate. Banks also know more about their customers because they have personal relationships with them.
At the end of the day, there is a huge opportunity to reach more people with digital finance. Collaboration helps seize that opportunity.
To build inclusive societies and address rising inequalities during and after the ongoing crisis, global and national leaders must close the digital divide across and within countries to reap the benefits of digital financial services
Trend 3: Tech-Human Touch
No amount of digital technology can change the fact that financial inclusion is and always will be about people. That is why a delivery model that combines the efficiency of digital finance with the personal trust of in-person or “touch-tech” banking, is important. Rather than replacing branches and loan officers, touch-tech uses digital channels to foster relationships with customers. While frontline staff members are key players in providing services, leveraging digital technology to optimise processes helps frontline staff do their jobs better, leads to greater outreach, as well as better outcomes for the clients.
Today’s customers are looking for the next generation of financial service providers. In a global financial landscape that is constantly changing and innovating, financial organisations will need to continue to eschew traditional banking paradigms and think more creatively in terms of relationships. This means thinking outside the box culturally, technologically and operationally. For a financial organisation to be successful and thrive in markets that continue to see declines, shifting to a touch-tech service delivery model that combines fintech innovation with a human-centred approach to delivering impactful financial services is something that should not be overlooked.
Trend 4: Gender Inclusivity
Despite fintech’s successes, a gap remains for women, rural residents, and other underserved communities. For this reason, responsible financial institutions cannot rest on their laurels nor become complacent – there is more work to be done to improve financial inclusion for women and those who remain financially excluded. There are two major barriers to women’s financial inclusion that stand out. The first of which is the digital gender gap that exists. Even when women own a mobile phone, they are generally less likely than men to connect to the internet, preventing them from reaping the full benefits of the technology. Secondly, the social and cultural barriers represent another major hurdle in the pursuit of financial inclusion. This problem is particularly acute in regions where deeply engrained patriarchal attitudes are commonplace.
Fintech needs to do a better job of closing this gender gap. For example, fintech innovations such as mobile and agent banking can be part of the solution, but they must be properly designed and targeted toward empowering women. Research shows that, thus far, fintech has been most effective at narrowing the gender gap in markets where women are already financially included to some degree. Where that isn’t the case, and where women face diminished access to technology and digital literacy training, these solutions are less empowering.
Trend 5: Wealthtech
A new wave is coming and that is wealthtech. An industry that was known as old school is waking up to the reality of convenience and disruptions by technology. The days of waiting for your investment to take a week to get to your account or fill volumes of forms to get an account is over. The Kenyan investment industry is seeing its historical profits disrupted by technology and regulations. Currently, the investments industry in Kenya remains very manual and should accelerate digitization and moving transaction to mobile / electronic. From Initial Public Offers (IPO), to Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A), to research and trading, investment firms are getting leaner, smaller, and reinventing their core businesses to keep up with innovations. The factors driving this include, mobile phone and internet penetration, mobile money penetration, and big data and research.
Some of the investment companies in Kenya e.g. Britam, Cytonn, CIC Group to mention a few have capitalized on this disruption to improve how they interact with their clients. They have done this through interactive mobile applications that enable their clients to invest, withdraw and transfer funds easily without manual intervention. Other firms have gone a notch higher and utilized the USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) platform to target the feature phone (a mobile phone that incorporates features such as the ability to access the Internet and store and play music but lacks the advanced functionality of a smartphone) users as they expand into the retail market space.
In these four trends, what are Kenyan banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) providers doing? Safaricom first led the industry with their innovative digital products MPESA in March 2007 and won great recognition from the market. Since then, from 2008, banks started to strengthen their core capabilities through digital transformation and launched unique digital services. While providing customer low-commission transaction and more services, they obtained customers with an amazing effect. Like KCB‘s VOOMA with Huawei, ABSA’s TIMIZA with Craftsilicon, NCBA’s Mshwari with Huawei, SC MOBILE with Craftsilicon, Cytonn App with Eclectic and Safaricom. The list is long.
As I close, the pandemic shows that the trend towards greater digitalization of financial services is here to stay. To build inclusive societies and address rising inequalities during and after the ongoing crisis, global and national leaders must close the digital divide across and within countries to reap the benefits of digital financial services. This means finding the right balance between enabling financial innovation and addressing several risks: insufficient consumer protection, lack of financial and digital literacy, unequal access to digital infrastructure, and data biases that need action at the national level; as well as addressing money laundering and cyber risks through international agreements and information sharing, including on antitrust laws to ensure adequate competition. It’s time for banks to make full use of our core capabilities to win the competition during digital transformation and accelerate inclusive finance development.
When you hear COVID-19 and pandemic, the thought of blessings does not come to mind. What comes to mind is death, job loss, unpaid leave, pay cuts, economy going down, 38’ fever, sanitize, social distance and I can go on and on. Nothing rosy about a virus and pandemic. All you see is despair and everything that has gone wrong. I was taught to see opportunities in disasters. Life in itself has so many unfortunate circumstances but as they say, we make lemonade out of it. This pandemic has thrown all rules we once followed out the window. People are off their normal routine, and they’re liking it. They have embraced working remotely. The artificial fears and barriers people had before – “We can’t do this,” “That would never be an option,” “We will have to approach this slowly” – are all gone. There are five areas that COVID-19 has particularly blessed.
Family dynamics have changed during this pandemic period. The fact that the majority of people have been working from home and there is movement restriction as a result of the curfew, we are getting to spend more time with our families. When the pandemic started and the restrictions were announced, the party people could not imagine how they can be in the house as early as 7 pm but this meant that they can now come home before the children are asleep as was the case before. This has however affected some marriages which were founded on seeing each other in the evening for a few hours then sleep. The longest they stayed together was during the weekends but even that a big part was spent outside entertaining one another, hence they don’t know how to keep conversations going for 7 days in a row now that they are forced to stay at home. I hope counselling business is booming during this time to address such issues if not then lawyers are smiling due to the increased divorce cases. God forbid. In a recent study, four in five parents believed the coronavirus lockdown has brought their family closer together. A poll of 2,000 adults found the extra time at home, without the distraction of school and extra-curricular activities, gives mums, dads and kids more of an opportunity to bond. Just under two thirds (62 per cent) believe the crisis has made their children more 'community-minded', with 53 per cent going out of their way to help friends and neighbours. Despite the dreadful toll the pandemic is taking, people are becoming more thankful for the small pleasures in life such as family.
I can’t remember ever scrubbing my hands and face this hard and drinking a lot of ginger, lemon, garlic and turmeric before this pandemic. Today this is the norm; you leave the house with some small bottle of sanitizer and mask, every shop you visit there is a tank of water and soap placed outside and is compulsory for you to wash your hands before getting in and when you get back home you dump all the clothes and shower immediately. A short dash out of the house to pick groceries will end up with a thirty-minute bath when you are back. The stress of coming back to these showers makes people not go out in the first place. The result of this is that we have fewer infections. Can you imagine the solution to a lot of our health issues is, sanitizing, washing hands, masking and social distancing? How many times have you been ill in the last six months? Am sure its once or twice and could be the first initial days of the pandemic when anything felt like a coronavirus symptom. I remember sneezing or coughing in public was a taboo. People looked at you with all manner of judgement as if you were the patient zero. You would cough a little bit and immediately rush to drink a whole 10 litres of “dawa” (ginger, turmeric and lemon). This pandemic has led to reduced hospital volume and could be related to how we manage stress. Life has slowed down, and this may reduce the effects of stress for many. Increased anxiety and more smoking and drinking would have the opposite effect and increase the risk of hospitalization which has drastically reduced during this period with bars closed and nowhere to go plus you are working from the comfort of your home.
A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
With reduced income, it means you have to cut down on a lot of things however with the pandemic that reduced income wasn’t the only reason for reduction of expenditure but also the fact that the options to spend were drastically reduced. For example, if you were used to travelling a lot or enjoyed the Nairobi nightlife every weekend, this was brought to a standstill with curfews and cancellation of air travel. People started working from home so that meant the cash spent on fuel or commute was now not being used. With kids indefinitely at home, pizza nights were scaled down to ensure we can afford a decent meal every day as long us Prof. Magoha still insists that schools reopen in January 2021. So with the reduction in income as well as the minimal spending options, many have been able to survive the rough waters of this pandemic. I am pleasantly surprised that I have been able to survive for the last 6 months all thanks to COVID-19 and thinking without the box.
Savings and Investment
The term investment is one that I had to explain several times to a few friends before COVID-19 for them to understand. Money market funds, government bonds etc. were foreign concepts that were only heard in the business section of 9 pm local news. Majority of us lived the life of YOLO before the pandemic and setting money aside for the future was not something we thought about. Now I don’t even need to explain investment anymore. One of them said, “I always postponed this thing of investing till now and I have realized I was actually living payroll to payroll.” The pandemic has forced the majority of people to learn the hard way the need to save and invest for a stress-free future. We are seeing a trend where people are paying themselves first before thinking of spending. They say you never value something till you lose it. We are all valuing saving and investing more during this time because we don’t have money flowing as it used to. Hoping this savings and investment culture continues post-COVID. Time will tell but am liking it so far.
Learning New Skills
With more time on our hands now that we are home the whole day and nowhere to go, it meant starting new hobbies or finishing that book that you kept putting off much easier. For me, it has been starting a blog and writing about my experiences for the world to read. I have also been able to learn more about product design and web development. If you’re stuck at home as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, then chances are you’re probably on the lookout for something to do. While jigsaw puzzles and video games can be a fun way to get through a few hours of the day, there are several other ways to pass your time in lockdown more effectively. Whether it be a new skill you have always wanted to learn or an old hobby you’ve been meaning to pick back up again, now is the perfect time to busy yourself and make your time in self-isolation worthwhile. My isolation has been worthwhile so far and I have learnt new tricks that have become treasures.
It might be the furthest thing from your mind right now, but remember that times of challenge are our best growth opportunities. We’re all being pushed to learn and do things differently now. Creating opportunities — even very small ones — can go a long way toward helping us move forward. As it is said, tough moments don’t last but tough people do. We are going to overcome this and look back with a smile on how far we have grown. Let's meet on the other side.
We all love music. Heck if you don’t then there is something wrong with you. Music acts as food for the soul rejuvenating it, filling it with energy and vitality. Music is fun, relaxing, motivating and energizing. However, how many of us sit down and take time to internalize the lyrics of songs they are jamming to apart from religious folks who have church screens displaying the lyrics as they sing hence get to understand. This weekend I got to sit back and read the lyrics of the jam “I took a pill in Ibiza”. It reminded me of the concept of friendship and what that means.
I believe in no man or woman is an island and to progress in this world you need a few confidants that you can speak to when things are thick and when they are thin. To me friendship is like a marriage, that’s why we say its best that you marry your friend. Just like marriage, friendships require you to commit, create time for them and evaluate whether they are working on not. Give it some key performance indicators to be evaluated on and review. Growing up I did not take time to create lasting friendships because the majority of those I believed were my friends fell in the category of circumstantial. These are friendships I formed with people from school or work, or as neighbours, but after the circumstances changed then it was difficult to maintain them.
A turning point for me came in 2012 when I had to admit myself in hospital for a heart condition that I did not know I had and discharged myself a week later with no one knowing I was actually in the hospital all that time. Being diagnosed with such a terminal illness with no one to speak to, gave me a wake-up call that I could die and no one would know. It took some deep search to understand the true meaning of friendship. Getting to a point where you look at yourself in the mirror and say to yourself, “I have no friends”, is never an easy journey. It’s one that demands brutal honesty from an individual, involving the evaluation of life you might not want to truly see.
The current COVID-19 pandemic has been an eye-opener to many on who to actually to call a friend and those you need to reevaluate. I have seen people sleep outside and say none of their friends picked their calls when they needed help the most. I have heard people go without food and resort to public social media groups to seek any help. Do you want to tell me these people did not have friends that they could call for assistance? Mike Posner in I took a pill in Ibiza illustrates a different dimension of a young guy with all the money but no friends. They resort to drugs as a way of hiding from the bitter truth. “You don't wanna be high like me, Never really knowing why like me, You don't ever wanna step off that roller coaster and be all alone, You don't wanna ride the bus like this, Never knowing who to trust like this, You don't wanna be stuck up on that stage singing, Stuck up on that stage singing”. With all the money and fame, he doesn’t want to leave like that where you don’t know who to trust or ride the bus with so you resort to other ways of numbing the reality that you are all alone. You don’t need friends because you are poor or rich. Friends are a support system. An essential component of existence. One that makes this tough life we live bearable.
There are four types of friendship styles discovered by a team of German psychologists, led by Martina Mich. First is the discerning friendship style where you have a few very close friends. Emotional closeness is high and the friendships tend to last a long time. We all want to be in this group. Second is the independent friendship style where the friends are often circumstantial because they were formed with people you know from school or work. We confuse a lot of these friends to be discerning and always end up disappointed. The third is the selectively acquisitive friendship style where you tend to have friendships of varied duration — some last decades; others are more fleeting and circumstantial.
My experience in 2012 taught me to keep my circle of friends smaller, tighter and build a deeper connection with them to a point when I needed help I would not hesitate to call them.
Selectively acquisitive people, however, are somewhat choosy about which friendships they maintain over long periods of time, as compared to unconditionally acquisitive people. Lastly, there is unconditionally acquisitive friendship style that has the highest number of people according to the research. Although the emotional closeness differs from friend to friend, it is, on average, relatively low in this group. There’s also a wide range of friendship duration in this group. Overall, this group is more about socializing than emotional support. The reason for it being the largest is we are accustomed to looking for social support as an immediate need. Where can we go for drinks this weekend, or can we go and have a night out in Naivasha? However, all of these crumbles when emotional support is needed. Which group do you fall in?
There are many reasons why one might have no friends. Think about the following, and ask yourself if any of these have affected your old or potential friendships:
Temperament: You are naturally uncomfortable or shy around new people, making them uncomfortable
Insecurity: You don’t feel like you offer enough to be a good friend to others
Preference: You are an introvert, and you simply prefer being alone most of the time
No Experience: You have never had to exercise your social skills much, so you don’t know how to act around people
Disabilities: Whether physical, mental, or psychological issues, you have something holding you back from participating in the world like most people
Communication Problems: Your intentions do not match how other people perceive them. You do not know how to communicate properly, making people wary or unsure about you
Time: You don’t have the time to build relationships that others value
Whatever the reason might be for not having friends, it isn’t necessarily as big a problem as the world might make you think. For some people, the lack of friends is simply a preference, and the ache to have people around us isn’t as noticeable. However, I would urge you to reconsider since no man or woman is an island. We will need people around us that we can depend on. Having more friends will never make you worth, having few friends who stand behind you in your success and stand in front of you against your problems only matters. Caroline Mutoko during one of the Engage Kenya sessions, talks about time, life and how they are not promised. At the end of the talk that was around a tragic experience she had with a close friend who she kept postponing meeting invites till there was no more time, she shares the greatest lesson learnt, which is to keep her circle smaller and tighter and make time to have a meaningful engagement. That’s the secret of keeping friendships for long. Making time to build them.
So whatever category you fall in the friendship styles, the most critical thing to remember is how important it is to maintain at least one or two quality relationships with friends whom you can call on when you need them. My experience in 2012 taught me to keep my circle of friends smaller, tighter and build a deeper connection with them to a point when I needed help I would not hesitate to call them.
Nyoka, an interesting name to give an African child not considering the torture he will go through growing up. From primary school, I have been called different species of the snake kingdom, from black mamba, python, cobra and recently friend just make the hissing sound “ssssssss” because saying anaconda is too mainstream. Maybe it's because “sijakonda” (not slim). I have to emphasize though that I don’t prefer being called Nyoka loudly in public. The first and last time this happened I was sitting next to a tree with a group of churchmates waiting to play soccer. This classmate of mine approaches yelling my name from far and pointing at me. Since my churchmates did not know my third name then, you can imagine how they sprinted for their lives. You could think they are running to ask Eve to come and pick her friend who she left behind at the tree of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.
When I got to know my real name in class eight of primary school, I made an effort to educate people to pronounce it the right way. The “o” in Nyoka is prolonged according to my parents. So you say “Nyooooka” but I guess this just brought more confusion and attention to the name. So the name-calling continued. Everyone endeavored to be unique in the nickname they gave me. It was as if they had trademarks to these names because no one else dared to copy and speak.
At a certain point I started asking around for the legal process to change my name, but being a 12-year old kid, living in a sugar cane plantation, who had to carry a basin of “Sukuma Wiki” on his head every day of the week after class, to generate Kshs 20 (Kshs 20 was a lot of money then), this was not something that was going to happen. My elder brother, however, managed to get away with it when he intentionally used a nickname in his KCPE exam papers forcing my parents to add it in his birth certificate otherwise his marks would have been canceled. Knowing my parents I doubt he got away with it. He must have been served several strokes of the famous black “nyaunyo” (whip) that single-handedly kept us in check growing up. Its hiding place was never known.
I want to leave a mark in the Universe and seize the bull by his horns while implementing all that I’ve learned from the deeper holes that I have dug. I’ve become skilled at a whole heap of tricks-n-treasures; thus filling my bottomless basket with treats full of passion (and a SOLUTION driver of some fashion). In other words: I take action, am a Daniel-of-all-trades
If you can’t beat them, join them. Am sure you are very conversant with that saying. I had to embrace this name otherwise I would grow up to be a very bitter kid lashing out on anyone that called me anything other than my other nicer names. I, therefore, started learning about snakes.
Did you know most snakes are harmless to humans, but developing a healthy fear of them has kept our ancestors from getting squeezed to death or suffering a painful—and occasionally lethal—bite. But we may want to fight this ingrained phobia. (I mean, who needs it anyway since some of us spend the weekend tucked safely in our homes watching Snake Man?) And we should definitely rethink our urge to kill these reptiles—if only because they help keep us safe from another scary biter: the tick. That’s right, a recent study finds that snakes help halt the spread of Lyme disease. I know you have not been moved even a little by this statement. The fear of snakes is real. I think am scared of my own name.
Am not here to give you a lecture on snakes but who Daniel is. So as my brand statement goes “I want to leave a mark in the Universe and seize the bull by his horns while implementing all that I’ve learned from the deeper holes that I have dug. I’ve become skilled at a whole heap of tricks-n-treasures; thus filling my bottomless basket with treats full of passion (and a SOLUTION driver of some fashion). In other words: I take action, am a Daniel-of-all-trades”.
I strive to be different and bold, to always speak what’s on my mind. I put on suspenders and bow ties and sometimes colored khaki pants during the week something that made me the first employee to earn a record verbal warning for dress code within three weeks of my employment. Colour brings out life and I love life. Am a cartoon because laughter is the best medicine and my stress-relieving mechanism. Whenever you hear people laughing, Daniel aka python must be around that group. I feel at home in organizations that have a combination of crazies that believe they can change the world. Is there a better place to be for a corporate crazy like me who still dreams that one day he will have wings and supernatural powers, other than amidst a group of his own?
That is the true Daniel Mainye Nyoka aka Python. I warmed up to that one “Python”. Always learning to be better than I was yesterday, striving to make a difference and create a legacy that will live long after am gone. To defer odds and make the world I stay in, a better place than I found it. In a way, I am a true snake.
I know we have all had this conversation about debt and financial planning with ourselves during this pandemic period to a point you do not want to hear it anymore but I am here to remind you again. Tell you what, you already know much of what am going to say but I will repeat all the same as we need to survive COVID-19 especially in our financial health.
When COVID was declared a global pandemic most firms had to cut down on costs just to survive. This meant layoffs, staff taking pay cuts, going on unpaid leave or taking no pay at all, simply volunteering. Before all this, we had five categories of people. Those that saved a lot because they had complimentary income, those that saved a little for a rainy day as they had only this one job, those that survived payslip to payslip, those that survived hand to mouth and eventually those that were on negative every end of the month. All these five people have been affected by the current environment except for the #covid19millionares. The ones that were saving are still doing but not as they did before. The payslip to payslip and hand to mouth are either in the negative category or finding it hard to survive. I don’t want to imagine what the guy who was already in negative is going through right now. There is hope though if we realize the abnormal times and start taking actions to ensure next time if we ever end up in such a situation we are ready for it.
If you were already on negative or are getting into negative territory due to debt here are few actions you can take to make life bearable during this time:
Restructure your loan: Cash is king right now. Visit your bank and agree on how you can get a loan holiday until things change for you. If you are still having some money coming in at the end of the month try to pay a little to offset the loan, if not then let the bank know so that you are given time to put things in order. Remember postponing the loan does not mean you will not pay and interest is accruing so if you can offset whenever you get some money coming in please do so to avoid a huge financial obligation later.
Take a longer payment plan: This will reduce the monthly cash outlay and give you some breathing space until things get better and when they do you can get back to the normal plan. The plan is no to default on payment. The faster you can pay and clear the loan the better for you. So if you had one year to pay you can ask for another 3 years and when things become better you can always clear the payments.
Combine loans if you have multiple: If you have multiple loans in different financial institutions you can combine into one as it helps with minimizing the interest you have to pay at the end of the month. When COVID happened my Sacco ran an offer to combine loans 5 times your deposits. This meant one could get off multiple bank loans at 14% and combine into one at 12%. Such opportunities give relief as you figure out your finances.
Stop borrowing. Just stop: This isn’t the best time to borrow because you don’t know what tomorrow holds. If you have an appetite for the 364% p.a interest digital loans this is the time to get your addiction in check or Kenyan police will do. Loan sharks on steroids is a no go zone before, during and after COVID-19. Stop using your credit card for unnecessary purchases. If you cannot control yourself, ask a friend to take the card and cut it into two.
No matter what your situation, there is never a better time to act or improve than right now.
By applying these strategies you will gradually get out of negative and end up in the payslip to payslip territory or hand to mouth. This is a better position but no the best. Still some work to be done.
Reduce your spending: When income goes down you cannot expect the expenses to remain the same. They have to reduce as well. It means if you were in a 20k house its time to look for a 10k house. There is no shame in scaling down. Your peers don’t pay your rent or food. They can laugh at you now and that is fine. You understand where the pocket hurts most and they don't. During this time what is more important is the basic needs. Food, shelter and clothing. Clothing is on the bottom of the list, so priority is food and shelter. The rest is good to have.
Seek alternatives: If you used to buy bread at Kshs 50 for breakfast, you can survive on Kshs 20 mandazi for the time being. Boil water in the house and drink. The days of bottled water from the supermarket are on pause. Seek a cheaper alternative to what you need because that allows you to save up a little bit of money for a rainy day.
Look out for bargains: This is the time to buy anything on offer and this am talking about essential items, not a new car or new phone. If you used to ignore the latest offers counter in the supermarket, you now need to camp there. Again any chance to save money right now you go for it. Am not saying buy expired goods or bad quality items so that you save.
Renegotiate your rent: This is dependent on the type of landlord or management company you have. Plead your case and see what they can offer as a relief. Worst case is that they say no to your request so it does not hurt to ask. We have seen good landlords give relief to tenants during this period. Its called Ubuntu meaning humanity. If you are one of them reading this, please consider. If you have then be blessed. You have saved a life.
Reformulate your budget: At the end of it all come up with a revised budget that takes care of all the essential expense lines and highlights the various sources of income. Balance it off and understand how much you shall be setting aside moving forward.
Finally, you have something that you are saving due to the debt management strategies you have deployed and budgeting. Its time to invest and slowly start building your wealth. In such an environment it is advisable to focus on low-risk investments that assure you of capital preservation. Examples include money market funds, government bonds, bank deposits etc. You need a place where you earn a yield and have access to the funds instantly just in case you need them. Investing requires a lot of discipline. I recently came to learn that setting money aside to buy a phone or go for a long-needed vacation is not saving. That is postponed expenditure. I hope you will not have a lot of this in your list of investment objectives. Reevaluating your emergency fund is critical. If you can set aside at least 6 months of your income then you would be at a better position to deal with any pandemic thrown at you.
Evaluating how we’re managing our money is particularly timely post-COVID-19. When the economy is booming and the paychecks roll in, it’s tempting to believe we can keep doing what we’ve always done. But when the music stops, many are desperately wishing they had gotten their finances in order and saved some emergency cash to weather the pandemic before it hit. No matter what your situation, there is never a better time to act or improve than right now. My top priority is simply to help educate and see people succeed. So let’s get to learning.
Tom said he will love her till the end of time. This was his first love and it happened while he was on campus. It felt like being high on some out of this world substance. Your blood boils at a different PH level. A feeling that only fishermen in Homabay experience when they eat fried tilapia. You feel like you are walking on water this time not like the doubting Peter because for you this is eternity and there is no doubt.
Tom was a strict Seventh Day Adventist (SDA). He was in church by 7:30 am and left at 5 pm. He did not eat red meat and survived on various versions of soya. Soya chunks for meat, soya beverage for breakfast and I suspect soya rice for dinner and soya porridge for the 4 pm sundowner. He did not speak to ladies who wore trousers, used makeup, took alcohol or had piercings because that was ungodly. He loved to listen to Kurasini choir sing and hated NTV for having the “The Beat Show” that played secular music. He was convinced they will burn in eternal fire for encouraging immorality. His favourite verse was 2nd Corinthians 6:14- Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? He read a lot of religious material. To that extent, he had this huge bible that looked like one of those that God handed down to Moses in the wilderness and told him to safeguard with his life something that Tom did with this particular bible since no one was expected to use it. I think he must have gotten this from his dad. You know those dads that have their special chair and no one else is allowed to sit on, or a special mug that they only use for beverages.
Tom’s first love Tina was the direct opposite of everything he believed in. Tina loved going out for parties where alcohol was served, she wore trousers, had earrings and occasionally used makeup. Could this be the reason why they say love is blind? Tina cooked every meal with a lot of soup and each serving had to have potatoes in any form or shape. She had a liking for black turtle beans (njahi) which Tom felt were created by Satan. They lacked taste and constantly were a cause for bloating, farting and sometimes constipation. They had to be prepared with soup as usual and loads of potatoes all steamed to ensure you don’t lose the rustic smell. Even with all these flaws, Tom’s face lit up whenever he saw Tina. In those moments his whole being would tell him that this is the most beautiful lady he had ever seen, flawless and ordained for him from God. This feeling, however, lasted when they were together because once they went separate ways the thoughts of the various flaws would rush back into his mind. So, he worked out a plan to try and change this bad feeling he had. He took her to his church every Friday evening. Although this happened for two months Tina’s principles never changed. She liked who she was and wasn’t willing to change because of Tom.
We all need to find out what works best for us in relationships because what matters are the results.
Tom was trying to adapt to love while Tina was trying to adapt to the new religious principles. Could the two manage to separate love from religion? As Armin Zade says “love is central to our lives, and so is religion to many. If we believe that we were created by God whatever our understanding of God may be then love might be viewed as a divine gift. Alternatively, we may interpret love as an evolutionarily important physiological phenomenon. It is not helpful to argue our opinion regarding the validity of these views or attempt to discredit either one. People find comfort in both, and our failure to accept others’ existential beliefs is an ongoing, major obstacle to peaceful coexistence. Undoubtedly, we are all born with a capacity to love. This capacity likely varies in each person, but it is inherent in all. We are also born with numerous self-serving instincts that conflict with our impulse to love. This dynamic, the quintessential yin and yang, will remain a lifelong challenge, and it critically influences our success with relationships, including romantic love.
Religious organizations have been successful in guiding many people toward kinder ways of interacting and in establishing purpose, happiness, and inner peace for their members. On the other hand, religions may not be helpful and may even be detrimental if their teachings are not adequately followed or are misunderstood. Unfortunately, throughout history into present-day life, there are examples of horrific deeds that have been carried out in the name of various religions. That’s generally not the fault of the religions they almost invariably teach acceptance and loving-kindness towards others it’s the failure of the individual to adhere to (or to understand fully) the religions’ teachings.”
On this fateful school closing eve, Tina dedicated a secular song to Tom. Love is Wicked by Brick and Lace. He had heard the song before but never really took an interest to understand it just like many people out there. We care more about the beats and the sound and take little interest in the words. To Tom, the song dedication was an expression of love and not the fact that Tina was hinting on a decision that she had made and was about to carry out. The next morning when Tina realized Tom did not get the message from the song, she invited him to see her off and like a happy duck, the boy child ran expecting hugs and kisses. He was not going to see her for another three months till schools reopen so this was a special moment. Unfortunately, Tina had other plans and this morning sadly was the end of their relationship. Tom came into the relationship expecting Tina to change and Tina did the same. They both failed horribly in that.
We all need to find out what works best for us in relationships because what matters are the results. If we claim to believe in love and/or religion but act unkindly, we achieve the goal of neither (and are untrue to the core concepts of both). Love (as an independent phenomenon), just as religion, asks us to accept each person’s choice and to resist the notion to impose our view on others. Since both religious and secular paths can lead to a respectful, loving attitude toward others, the purpose of peaceful coexistence can be served through either approach as long we truly apply it.
The real estate tech sector is slowly being redefined by ever-changing market conditions and shifts in consumer behaviors. As Peter Williams, CEO Deloitte Digital, said “Real estate agents will not be replaced by technology but by agents with technology”. The real estate industry will not be replaced by a single technological solution, but rather the changes in the industry will be enabled by technology and the leaders will be those that embrace it. The solution will not be found in the acquisition of hardware but in the adoption of innovative solutions that will largely be software solutions, applications, and platforms.
The Kenyan real estate industry continues to expand as investor appetite grows alongside the customer base. While this is happening, change is inevitable for any real estate company that wants to remain competitive. The shift towards real estate technology cannot be ignored anymore. As the industry evolves, individual companies will fight to become undisputed leaders by offering solutions such as renewable energy and smart homes that are beyond real estate products and services, in order to have a tight grip on customer loyalty. As technology and innovation continue to shape the real estate industry, emerging real estate tech companies are creating an opportunity to become leaders in the new digital real estate ecosystem. Some of the key areas to focus on for Kenyan real estate tech companies are highlighted below:
- Big Data: From driving business decisions to creating better consumer experiences, big data can have a lot of influence on your business. Many real estate businesses collect a lot of data that sit in silo repositories without any analytics being done to pick out industry trends or behaviors of their consumers. Real estate companies wanting to target the right clients need to know who they are, when they want to buy, where they are, and how they can reach them in the most effective manner. Harnessing big data is an invaluable tool in targeting the right buyers and an important element in refining the real estate process. Real estate companies like Bowery, Enertiv, Coldwell Banker amongst others are harnessing the power of big data to be able to target their clients with the right products, and position their products in the most effective manner.
- Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence: Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning is the art of computers teaching themselves on how to improve the way they perform their tasks based on previous experience or through pattern recognition. Such systems are in use by real estate investors to effectively control expenses, manage risks and gain higher returns using algorithms that are designed to predict and factor in individual investor concerns. Real estate search analytics is improving the way prospective buyers are matched with desirable properties, amplifying the broker’s labor
- Some of the AI tools in use include chatbots to automate answering of frequently asked questions, investor analytics that sets income and growth goals and monitors through an intelligent robot as well as loan default predictors that are able to access risk and focus on profitable investments only.
- The Internet of Things: The Internet of Things (IoT) is a key component of home automation and smart homes. This involves automating the ability to control items around the house from curtains to electricity with a hand-held device or voice command. Smart home technology has started changing the way home owners view property. It is becoming a game changer for real estate developers in Kenya. Instead of selling a shell for a house, developers are enticing buyers with internet ready homes. It is also anticipated that there will come a point when real estate agents use IoT for home searches. The practice of consumers going online and pecking their way to their perfect home will be replaced with voice driven applications embedded on phones, that are able to automatically answer any questions they have.
Real estate tech companies won't necessarily disrupt the industry but will disrupt those companies that refuse to embrace the change.
- Building Technology: With the increased demand for low cost housing with less impact on the environment, real estate developers in Kenya are left with no choice but to consider innovative ways of building houses. The areas of focus include using prefab building material and modular construction where a building is constructed offsite and then assembled onsite. In 2014 Winsun, a company based in China pioneered a 3D printed house. Compared with the traditional construction methods, they were able to save up on 80% of the construction costs and 60% on labour. This are just a few of the innovative ideas that real estate companies are exploring globally in order to reduce cost.
- Augmented and Virtual Reality: Virtual Reality (VR) enables customers to tour pre-development or ready house units from anywhere in the world. Real estate developers, hoteliers and other businesses are using the technology to give their prospective clients a feel of the product virtually. Using real time technology and devices, like the Samsung Gear VR Virtual Reality headset, real estate developers can show off the progress of the houses under development as well as completed units. Companies like Blackrhino VR in Kenya, are commercializing the potential that VR holds in selling property developments both off-the-plan and finished. Through the power of virtual reality, they allow prospective buyers to walk through and experience the space even before construction has started.
- Real Estate Operations Automation: To remain competitive, real estate companies have to look out for better ways to increase efficiency, differentiate and position their products and services as they build customer loyalty. With a robust back-office operation, the company can have visibility of a customer life cycle from the time they were prospects till when they become landlords or tenants. Automating your customer relationship management, portfolio management and facilities management, the companies are able to address challenges such as cost efficiency and communication between different stakeholders.
- Real Estate on Demand: This is a concept where potential buyers are able to access and extract value from their products and services instantly. Consumers are notoriously impatient and expect instant gratification hence demand instant delivery for the goods and services they use. Companies like Amazon, Google, Jumia and Kilimall have already invested in same-day delivery, that is already revolutionizing the supply and distribution networks. In Real Estate, startup companies such as Naked Apartments, AgentPair, and CurbСall are setting the pace. With their technology, they are able to connect potential buyers who want to prospect a home, with nearby real estate agents who are ready to take a new lead.
As real estate tech evolves, its certain that the industry is headed for a revolution. Real estate tech companies won't necessarily disrupt the industry but will disrupt those companies that refuse to embrace the change. Investing in technology as a real estate company is a key differentiator moving forward. Here are the ways in which one can embrace technology:
- Automate your back-office operations. This will enable you collect data about your clients. There are simple customer relationship management and property management tools that you can subscribe too and start using immediately.
- As you collect more data, invest in business analytics that will pick out trends in your consumer behaviour. This in return enables you to target the client with the right products and services and reduce marketing efforts to the wrong market segment.
- Invest in technologies that make it easier for your potential investors to make decisions about which of your properties to invest in e.g. Real Estate Simulators as well as those that differentiate your properties from the traditional four wall houses e.g. Smart Home solutions.
When I grow up I want to be a doctor, a neurosurgeon, a pilot, a CEO of a big company etc. These are the dreams we had when we were young and our children continue to have and tell when asked the question: what do you want to do when you grow up? Society and our education system preach the gospel of success that is defined by titles, palatial homes, wealth and power. We live our lives knowing this is what will get us a name in that great book of life. In primary school, I worked hard to get into a national school because I was told anything less than that meant I would not achieve what I wanted in life. Students who went to national schools had already qualified in the great book of life. Unfortunately, I did not cut national school. No one in my school did but that’s a story of another time. It meant I had to work twice as hard to earn a ticket to the successful forever after story.
So I woke up every day for 4 years at 4 am and slept at midnight. This wasn’t the difficult part of this pension chase. My school had no water so we had to run 2 kilometres away from the school to a pond to fetch water, shower and run back through a dusty road with pebbles and thorns. All this was to be done within 30 minutes. The result is, of course, you were as dusty as you left. We had white shirts and games shorts for uniform in a school with no piped water. Am yet to know who came up with this design. But it is what it is. Drinking water was supplied in a 200ml cup and was to last you the whole day. The scientists who talked about drinking 2-5 litres a day to remain healthy had not visited my high school because we were as healthy as Francis Atwoli in his younger years. I did not achieve what I wanted at the end of the 4 years but I left with an A- and a tree I planted in my name. I wonder what that tree would say if it met me today. Of all the places you thought of planting me, you had to choose a semi-arid region and specifically a school with no water. Am sure the roots would strangle me if they saw me.
The last few weeks were a lot similar as my childhood because we were asked what we wanted to do and since the school needed to look good, the top students had no choice but to pick the courses that required higher admission points. Which school wants to be known for sending 100 students for teaching courses or marine biology? They want to be known for sending to university the highest number of doctors, actuarial scientists, computer scientists and engineers. I managed to be sneaked into the computer science gang at The University of Nairobi. The pride of coming to the big city where the school had water and I could do whatever I wanted was like a dream come true. I did not have to wear any white shirts or worry about 200ml drinking water per day. There was no frog jumping and sweeping the dormitory on Sundays. I was finally free but was I? I still had to work hard to get into the great book of life and this I was promised would be the last mile. So I needed to finish strong. No human is limited and I was in the last 10 kilometres of the full marathon.
Chase your passion, not your pension! Be inspired to learn as much as you can, to find a cause that benefits humankind – and you’ll be sought after for your quality of service and dedication to excellence
First-class honours here I come. Bring on the assignments and the textbooks to read. Bring on the research work and double classes to go through 230 PowerPoint slides (Death by PowerPoint). Just when I was preparing my admission speech into the great book of life I discovered it was a bunch of nothing. All it was, was a great book of illusions and magic to ensure you focus on pursuing what the master magician needed you to do. That’s how most if not all feel about the 8-4-4 system when they cannot get jobs or unlock any opportunity once they finish this great marathon. The promises of being in the great book of life now seem like an eternity affair. Where did we go wrong?
By the words of Denis Waitley when he recapped the commencement speech by Edward Olmos. Olmos stood up, removed his cap, and regarded the graduates. "So we’re ready to party?" he asked. "Yeah, let’s party!" they answered in unison. "I know, thank God it’s Friday," he resumed. "But commencement means to begin, not finish. You’ve had a four year sabbatical from life, and now you’re ready to go out there and earn. You’re only beginning Real World 101 in your education. "One more thing before we leave," he continued. "Please never, ever work for money. Please don’t just get a job. A job is something that many of you had while you worked your way through college. A job is something you do for money. But a career is something you do because you’re inspired to do it. You want to do it, you love doing it, you’re excited when you do it. And you’d do it even if you were paid nothing beyond food and the basics. You’d do it because it’s your life."
Many of us will go out and try to get the highest-paying job possible, regardless of the industry, regardless of the opportunity, regardless of the service or product the company may provide. If you chase money, it may catch you – and if it catches you, you’ll forever be its slave. By letting money pursue you but never catch you, you’ll always be its master. By always doing what you love, loving what you do, delivering more than you promise, you’ll always be underpaid – which is how it always should be. For if you’re paid more than you’re worth, you may be restructured, reengineered, replaced, fired, declared obsolete, disposed of. Overpaid people are overdrawn in their knowledge bank account. People who are underpaid for the level and quality of the service they provide are always in demand and always ahead of the money in their knowledge and contribution. So money and opportunity are always chasing them. Olmos concluded with a charged voice and moist eyes. "Chase your passion, not your pension! Be inspired to learn as much as you can, to find a cause that benefits humankind – and you’ll be sought after for your quality of service and dedication to excellence”.
This passion will make you oblivious of quitting time and to the length of your workday. You’ll awake every morning with the passion of pursuit, but not the pursuit of money. Those who do more than they’re paid for are always sought for their services. Their name and work outlive them and always command the highest price. Chase your passion, not your pension!"
I went through a twitter thread for @MarigaThoithi (Read Here) where people share their single worst financial decisions. I could relate with a lot of them since I have made some bad financial decisions as well but important is the lessons I have learnt. They say money is the source of all evils but whoever makes the decision defines the source. What process and principles we use to make these financial decisions is equally important.
Do not lend more than you are comfortable losing
In 2015 just before I started my MBA, a relative and his friend approached me to finance an LPO. I had saved 400k that was to go into paying the deposit for my tuition fees. Since I had a month to go before I pay the deposit and the fact that 1 month is all they needed before they refund I decided to extend the loan. It was to be repaid with a 20% interest in November of 2014. Just to let you know this has never been fully paid till today and how I managed to pay for school fees remains a miracle. It is okay to support family and friends but remember to not expect the money to come back. So if you are faced with such a situation ask yourself “Will I be okay if this money never gets refunded?” If the answer is no, please walk away politely.
Do not invest in what you do not understand
One of the comments on the twitter thread got be cracking up. @elvisgromyko says “Overheard some senior financial advisors saying you buy shares when they are at their lowest price…went to the bank and emptied my 25k, bought Kenya Airways shares at Ksh 6. The next month they went down to Ksh 4. Nowadays I hear the plane sound and I think it is my money they are burning”. Investment is a personal thing and you need to take time to understand what you are getting into. Do not go by what a friend is saying or the old investment prank as I call it: “I have invested and I have made a lot of money so you need to join”. I once invested my emergency fund in a friend’s business when I was promised some lucrative return. It worked fine for a while till his business went under and I was left with illiquid assets that I could not sell. So, first, get a reliable financial advisor who will understand your financial goals and walk with you and not a salesperson that will come selling a product without even understanding what you need. You can read more on my article “Investing 101 and spotting scams”. Secondly, do your due diligence and arrive at the decision yourself. That way you understand the risks and returns.
Do not lend more than you are comfortable losing
Love is blind but it is not deaf or dumb
Relationships are a good thing but they cannot be blamed for the crazy financial decisions. We blame every part of our body for inhibiting the brain from making the right decision such as paying school fees for him or her and when they graduate you are dumped or taking a loan to spoil your partner with a trip to some coastal beach only to come back and be dumped. Am no expert in love as I have my share of experience with bad relationships but financial matters in relationships can be a make or break. Relationships are about two people and cannot be one-sided. Stefanie Rodriguez advises “It’s honourable for you to offer your help, but being as you’re not married yet in most of the cases you don’t have an obligation to take loans for pleasure or to finance the other partners' lifestyle. If he or she is not asking for help but is accepting your paying for their bills without taking an active step toward truly paying for it themselves then have that discussion with them and come up with a financial plan together that helps them get fully on their feet.” Again remember my rule number 1 above, do not lend more than you are comfortable to lose.
Set aside at least 6 months of pay as an emergency fund
While it’s not always easy, you may need to sacrifice in other spending areas to have access to extra income that can go toward your emergency fund. This may require taking a hard look at your money habits so you can identify where you may be overspending. When I started my career I had this distractive self-talk: “Let me enjoy this money from my new job and start saving after one year. When the year ended and pay rise was given, I moved from buying “chapo-madondo (a local delicacy) on the street to buying chapo-madondo in a hotel). This is called income elasticity. The fact remained I was not setting any money aside just upgrading lifestyle. I lived the life of YOLO (you only live once). You could say I went through a chicken lifecycle where at end month I ate chicken, mid of the month I was eating chicken products such as eggs and a week to payday I was surviving on chicken feed such as “Sukuma Wiki” (kale) because I was broke. When I started asking myself what financial goals I wanted to achieve, things changed. Buying a 100k phone today to impress someone instead of saving to put a down payment for the plot of land you want to build on brings perspective.
Before you make a financial decision: ask for outside opinions and help, try not to get overwhelmed with financial decisions and don’t succumb to herd mentality. You can make smart and generous financial decisions. And you know what? Those decisions will affect every other area of your life. The truth of the matter is that our health affects our finances, our finances affect our relationships, our relationships affect our job performance, and so forth. Aim to improve your finances. Other areas of your life are sure to benefit as well.
There is a video that I watch maybe once or twice a month. The video, wisdom of a third-grade dropout by Rick Rigsby tells a story of how a parent’s advice and actions can impact the lives of their children. Whenever I watch this video I remember similar lessons from an electrician dad who worked for over 30 years in a sugarcane milling company and a teacher mum raising four boys to conquer the world. I would like to share 7 keys lessons that I have picked from these two wise individuals.
Lesson 1: The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary ~ Vidal Sassoon
To put as through school, my mum would wake up a 5 am to till the garden. She would be back at 6 am to prepare for school and ensured she was in her class by 7 am. During the school holidays and Sundays, she would be in the market selling first-hand clothes to compliment her income while my dad would be at the sugarcane farm. I started selling vegetables in a hand wash plastic basin as early as 10yrs old. When I was 20yrs I was upgraded to tilling the farm and when I finished high school I was going to the market to sell first-hand clothes and get casual jobs at the factory to raise money to buy my first phone. My dad and mum would not allow any of us to sit around waiting for the grown-ups to bring the cheese home. We had to be part of the process. A vivid image of my dad responding to my brother when he requested to test drive his Datsun 620 pickup remains in my mind till today. That the car belonged to him and his wife and that he needed to work hard to drive his one day. My dad is a comical guy so reread this with that in mind.
Lesson 2: If you follow the crowd, you might get lost in it.
Once during my primary education when I was going through the “8” in 8-4-4, the Ministry of Education changed the syllabus and introduced a new book that each student needed to purchase. A week later a few of the well-off kids already had a copy so that evening I went home and told my dad that some kids parents had already purchased the books and I was the odd one out. His answer: “Do I look like Moi?” (Moi is the late 2nd President of Kenya). Sounds better when you add the Kisii accent. Just because the other parents could buy in a week does not mean we all can. Working at your pace is important. Right after campus, I got my first job paying 40k p.m. That could afford me a servant’s quarter in South B, Riverbank Estate. On the other hand some of my classmates got placements in multinationals and could afford to purchase cars and live in palatial homes. I could have gotten stressed by that divide and wondered what was wrong with me however the words of my dad when he dropped me for admission in Maranda High School kept ringing in my mind. That; “Son, remember you came to this school alone and you will leave alone. Do not define your life by someone else’s standards. Keep your head high and work hard, the rest shall fall in place at the right time.”
Lesson 3: Never say no to an opportunity even when in doubt and do not fear to fail.
The teacher mum never said no to an opportunity in her life. This is a woman who was farming in the morning, teaching by day and having a merry-go-round (a small social organization where members contribute a small sum of money regularly, often every week. Each time money is collected, the full sum is paid out to one of the members) meeting in the evening. To someone, this would seem a lot but the next day my mum would say yes to yet another opportunity from a friend to plant 20 acres of sugarcane and start her large-scale farming journey. She would now be vegetable farming in the morning, teaching during the day, checking with the farm assistant during her lunch break and having her merry-go-round in the evening. My mentor, Michael Macharia in a meeting that changed my career, offered me an opportunity to pioneer a management trainee programme in SevenSeas Technologies and be the first guinea pig. I was fresh from campus and 3 months into my job. The Chief Talent Officer, Bancy Gakuru turned to me and said “Daniel you have heard what Mike has said. Please go and think about it and let us have your response in a week.” I immediately said yes and that I did not need time to think about it. That day marks a great turning point in my professional career because I said yes to the opportunity. I have pretty much made several bad decisions after that but I have also learnt the greatest lessons from them. John Maxwell says “When it comes right down to it, I know of only one factor that separates those who consistently shine from those who don't: The difference between average people and achieving people is their perception of and response to failure”
Lesson 4: “You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you ~ John Bunyan
There was no day in the Mainye household that we were less than 10 family members living in a tiny one-bedroom house. The sitting room had been partitioned three times to act as a tuck shop, bedroom and living room all in one. We always had our cousins or uncles living with us. My dad and mum had offered to support their siblings and their children financially when their parents passed on. Whether taking them through university, medical school or primary and secondary education, this was their way of lifting someone who can never repay them. With a combined 40k salary, they had to seek other ways to complement their income to support our relatives. There is a Chinese saying that goes: “If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.” Giving back is as good for you as it is for those you are helping because giving gives you purpose. When you have a purpose-driven life, you’re a happier person and boy are the two the happiest beings in the world.
Son, I will not be there to teach you these things every day but wherever you go remember where you came from and the lessons you learnt. Hold onto them because in your darkest moments they will lift you. Never let the Flame of Hope go out of your life. With hope, no matter how bad things look and are...peace, faith and love can shine brightly in your life
Lesson 5: Believe in a higher power
The wise electrician and the teacher have a prayer group until today that wakes up every day at 3 am to pray for their families. Growing up we never missed a day in church. We were always in the church by 7:30 am to prepare for the sabbath school lesson study. Every day started and ended with a prayer in the Mainye home. In a society where priorities have become skewed and counting on your neighbour, friend or even family member is not an easy feat, we’ve become accustomed to disappointment. We all need something in our lives that will act as a guiding light and bring inner peace and stability–something that will offer us more than that temporary fix. Belief in a higher power can give us that. It offers us something to trust in, a standard to which we can aspire. When we have a higher power in whom we can trust and rely, we become less reliant on ourselves. We begin to know true peace and see the lesson in everything, even if to outsiders it appears that we are struggling. My dad and mum taught us to believe in the higher power called God. That power has seen me through dark and bright moments. The power that saw them raise 4 men and a community.
Lesson 6: When you make an important promise to yourself, you also have an obligation to fulfil it ~ Bruce Glassman
My dad was a man of his word. If he promised something he wrote it down and ensured he delivered. No one had to worry about assigning him any duty. The community trusted him to the extent he became an authority figure around town and people sought his counsel. He had an interesting way of drilling this key skill in our minds. He would give each of us a task that we need to deliver by the end of the day. Being young and silly, we would do the opposite. Get consumed with playing games, or going to the factory to pull sugarcane from moving tractors. When he came back and the assignment was not done, two things would happen. First, you would write a 100 words composition on where and what you were doing the whole day. Till today I have never understood why 100 words. Secondly, you will have to go through some strokes of the 5-year-old bamboo cane safely stored in a shelve in the bedroom. You were sent to bring it. Imagine telling a goat to go bring a knife that will be used to slaughter it. The compositions were kept in a drawer in his bedroom and re-read to us whenever the mistake was repeated. He taught us that making promises and not delivering was a sign of disrespect. Our word became our bond and when we promised we delivered no matter what.
Lesson 7: Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might
There is no half-baked job with my parents. Everything had to be done to precision. His car was washed twice a day and that is after he upgraded from a bicycle that was also washed twice a day. When you were late on anything and used the excuse of you know dad I was just late by a minute. His response “Son, whether you were late by a minute or missed a grade by one point the fact is that son, you are still late or you still failed”. During a visit to the NASA space centre in 1962, President John F. Kennedy noticed a janitor carrying a broom. He interrupted his tour, walked over to the man and said, "Hi, I'm Jack Kennedy. What are you doing?" "Well, Mr President," the janitor responded, "I'm helping put a man on the moon." To most people, this janitor was just cleaning the building. But in the more mythic, larger story unfolding around him, he was helping to make history. Here's the point: No matter how large or small your role, you are contributing to the larger story unfolding within your life, your business and your organization. The wise electrician and teacher taught me to appreciate every little opportunity I get and to perform the work as if it was my last.
I would close by this. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit. In the words of an electrician “Son, I will not be there to teach you these things every day but wherever you go remember where you came from and the lessons you learnt. Hold onto them because in your darkest moments they will lift you. Never let the Flame of Hope go out of your life. With hope, no matter how bad things look and are...peace, faith and love can shine brightly in your life.”