Sh3 Million Lifestyle Mistake Made Me Miss Out on Sh50 Million

September 13, 2021

Kevin Kigima Ng’ang’a is the co-founder of Pokeapay, a fintech company that offers e-commerce digital marketing and payment solutions to small and medium-sized businesses.

He shares some of his experiences and lessons learnt in finance and entrepreneurship.

I once got a windfall bonus of over Sh3 million at a very early age in my career.

At the time, I knew well that Safaricom shares were undervalued. The shares were trading at around Sh2.50 per share.

Instead of buying the shares, I spent the bonus on poor lifestyle choices that had no value. Safaricom shares are trading at highs of Sh42 per share today.

If I’d bought the Sh3 million shares at Sh2.50, my stake of about 1.2 million shares would today be worth about Sh50 million. 

I also once made a significant financial investment in a mobile money distributor who never launched. I had not been so keen in doing my due diligence.

As a result, I failed to notice the red flags. Since then, I always task myself to give an objective probability of losing money in an investment.

I then decide if that figure is palatable for me, and enter the investment knowing I could lose a certain amount of money, and should not regret it if it doesn’t work out. 

Before I co-founded Pokeapay, I led two of Kenya’s largest Online Forex Brokerages back-to-back at the age of 38. This achievement came from having very supportive core investors who understood my vision for building opportunities for Kenyans to trade and invest globally, an excellent team that supported my vision and the Capital Markets Authority which was very proactive in regulation.

We achieved unprecedented success with client trading volumes reaching $9 billion per month with over 5,000 investors in both entities and over Sh1 billion in investments.

Despite being in finance from a young age, I never embraced the power of compounding. This is something that I have now embraced through the use of the Money Market Funds which compound interest and pay at a higher rate than inflation.

I had tried to use chamas before. My money wasn’t compounded, which meant that the interest earned was below the inflation rate.

Entrepreneurship may be a better way to create wealth faster, but it isn’t for everyone. I believe that whether you are in employment or entrepreneurship, the risks you take and the decisions about the money you earn determine what side between wealth and struggle you end up on. 

It won’t be the end of the world if your business idea fails. In fact, it will be better for you to know early and move on. There are alternatives you can use beyond your career to make passive income. Consultancy in your area of expertise and investments are some of them.

I have grown in my career and business through mentors, accountability partners, and networks. You will need a mentor in your line of business or career and an accountability partner to keep you in check.

These are people who do not have a personal stake in your success; who can be frank with you. You will also need a network to attract new business and contacts.

Opportunities present themselves through networks. Get interested in what people you meet are doing and stay in touch.

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