Dr. Lucy Ndegwa-McKenzie is the chair and co-founder of the women-only diaspora Sacco known as Kenya North America Diaspora Sacco (K-NADS). The Sacco draws membership from women in 23 countries in North America.
I set up the K-NADS Sacco together with eight other women. We started from a social media platform for women with a basic question of what the 6,000 of us would achieve if we contributed $100 (Sh1,100) per month. How much money would we have and what would we do with that kind of money? The Sacco now provides members with a vehicle to save and access low-interest loans. The majority of my co-founders had never met in person. But we had the passion and the determination.
My K-NAD Sacco account is where I primarily save my money. I am able to access quick loans of up to three times my savings. I have currently put in all the required monthly savings for the period up to December 2022. I prefer to have any other excess monies invested in money market funds, fixed-income funds, shares, treasury bonds, or infrastructure bonds.
I used to love seeing the zeros behind the number in my bank balance. But then I figured that these figures weren’t earning me any interest. Each dollar should be considered as an employee making you more money, so it is critical that you place it where it will make you that money even as you sleep.
I once lost $40,000 (Sh. 4.4 million) after investing in a company without due diligence. The company had a great story for Kenyans living in the diaspora but there were no deliverables behind the story. The warning signs were all there. The loss made me decide not to invest in anything in Kenya. Before you invest, always listen to what those on the ground are saying. Involve a lawyer of good reputation, and check the character of those leading the investment vehicle.
There are five things that I have learned from my parents on money. You must always pay yourself first. You must then set aside at least 10 per cent of your income for investments. You must invest in things that make money and appreciate value. Storing money in a bank that earns you zero interest has the same value with storing money under the mattress.
Strong and supportive family and friends are important for your personal development. These are the people who cheer you on. But don’t get caught up in thinking that the only people you can do business with are the ones you have known all your life. There are people who will only be with you for a season. I have come to learn that leadership in any group is very political. So there are those whose mission is to tear others down and poke holes at every chance they get. Walk away from relations that drain and suck the life out of you.