34-year-old quit his lucrative job to start a company, now the local partner of Sage ACCPAC
By Jevans Nyabiage | January 7th 2014
By Jevans Nyabiage
Nairobi, Kenya: Every entrepreneur has his or her own success story. For Raymond Cheruiyot, it happened when he took control of the direction his life was taking. In 2008, Cheruiyot, now 34, quit a well-paying job as a software engineer to start Accfin East Africa Ltd.
The company is the local partner of Sage ACCPAC, which creates accounting and management software. Five years later, he has no regrets. His company has 20 employees and more than 30 clients across the East African region. The firm, which celebrated five years of operation in December, plans to set up an office in Ethiopia this year.
Tell us about yourself and Accfin East Africa?
I’m the chief executive officer of Accfin East Africa Ltd, a firm I formed in November 2008 solely to deal with Information Management Systems. We now have offices in Nairobi and a branch in Mombasa. We have grown steadily, acquiring both local and international companies through identifying, delivering and servicing their specific needs in the shortest time possible.
Our focus is in the business process — accounting, customer service, human resources and payroll. Our strategy has been to make the Sage product fit into the business environment of our customers, and not the other way round.
What did you study?
I graduated with a physics degree in 2003 from Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology. I have also done some accounting courses to handle what I’m doing now. I also have software engineering training.
I have just signed up for an MSc in software engineering because it’s what I’m currently doing.
Before you started Accfin East Africa, where were you previously working?
I worked at MicroLAN Kenya where I started as a sales representative and then rose to become head of the software design department.
What are some of the challenges you experienced when setting up?
In 2008 when we started, we struggled a lot. We didn’t have the millions to scale up the business. We struggled to attract customers. I had a credit loan of Sh74,000 from a bank but this was not enough.
When did you get your big break?
In 2009, when a few clients believed in our work and signed up. I demonstrated what we could do for them and these firms signed up and we have not disappointed them. That was the biggest breakthrough for us. We now have more than 30 organisations that we provide with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions.
How much was Accfin’s first cheque?
About Sh20,000, but I felt nice. That was the first cash I put in my account.
And when did you earn your first million?
In 2009, a year after going into business. My business then was like a brokerage. I used to get software from Sage on credit then sell it to the customer. Most of those millions didn’t come to me, but went to the big boy — Sage. But I was also happy in the process.
What is your management style?
I’m an on-job guy and try to get things done. Since I’m multi-skilled, you will find me in finance, programming and marketing. I don’t sit back and give directions, but I also don’t take over the work assigned to others. I just make sure that work is done on time. The reason we have managed to retain the same employees since we started is because they own part of the company.
What is your working day like?
Busy. I get to the office some minutes to 7am and leave at around 9pm. In between, I try to get clients.
How do you spend your free time?
Mostly with my family.
Any hidden gifts or talents?
I love rugby. In campus I used to play. So, if I’m not with my family, I’m somewhere watching this game. I also do game drives. Once in a while, I go swimming; it is a great passion.
How do you spend your cash?
A lot of my money goes to charity. I come from a background that is quite well of, so I try to pool resources to change lives back in the village in Kericho, Belgut.
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