Njeri Ndirangu is the General Manager-Retail Investments at ACORN Investment Management. She shares her career experience and lessons learnt on investing and entrepreneuriship.
I am in a business that deals with REITs(Real Estate Investment Trust)management. As such, we are responsible for managing the properties in order to maintain high occupancy levels, achieve strong rental growth and maximise income for investors. Currently, we manage the ACORN student accommodation Reits popularly known as the Qwetu Student Residence, where investors can put in as little as Sh5,000 and earn a return from the rental yields.
In my career, my greatest milestone was starting up a whole investments’ sales department with my previous employer. This turned out to be one of the greatest business development teams in the company. I was able to turn around the company revenues, which enabled me to grow from sales manager to head of retail and lastly head of business development.
I once took a small loan and invested in farming with no experience. I did it because all my relatives were doing it. I was left with rotting cabbages and tomatoes at the farm that I had leased. This taught me that one must research and focus on what they understand. Today, I cannot invest in any undertaking that I’m not sure about.
I was recently retrenched. This was a big hit given that I was at the peak of my career. However, I learnt that the buffers that you develop in your life are what you can fall back on. I set my emergency fund in motion as I started planning my next move. I had already established a small consultancy, so I decided to immediately dive into it. Always have a buffer. Always budget for your loss and any unforeseen risk. Big corporates practice risk transfer and have budgets for contingencies; why not individuals?
Get mentors in all spheres of life to guide you. Your network is your net worth. I have a number of mentors holding my hand from career, family, and personal investments. I also read a lot and take various online courses in my field.
If I could go back in time and start all over again, I would make good health my number one priority. Mentally, physically and spiritually. When these three are not balanced you just blow off. Don’t rush to quit your job to start a business. Use your 9-5 to finance your entrepreneurship. It normally takes over three years for business to pick up, at times even longer, and you need to have a buffer. On money, I have come to learn that having multiple streams of income can really change your life. Diversify your investments to create this.
I save and invest before I pay my expenses. Saving for emergencies and investing for the future are very critical for me and my children. This has been very effective as it has lowered my spending. I start with what I want to save or invest, and manage my expenses with what I have left. Previously, I used to spend first and then save later. This would lead me into a lot of impulse spending and entertainment. I would also find myself entrapped in endless harambees which would deplete my savings.