Get a money makeover with Kenya’s top money minds

Robert Kiyosaki says, “It is more important to grow your income than cut your expenses. It’s more important to grow your spirit that cut your dreams.” The greatest disservice you can do to yourself is to continue relying on that one source of income. What if it, too, suddenly gets cut off? Where does that leave you? Only poor people oversleep. If you go on the road at 4AM you will see Prados, Landcruisers, and other big cars. At 6AM is when you start seeing the Proboxes and Vitzes. That should show you how early wealthy people wake up. When did you last see Bob Collymore trapped in traffic? If you have an 8 to 5 job, what are you doing between 6 and 8? Do poultry rearing, get a dairy cow – anything it takes to get an extra income during your extra hours.

Dr Paul Kibicho, CEO, Panorama Consulting Co. Ltd

It is ‘do what makes you money, not what you love’

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The worst business advice I ever received was ‘do what you love’ at my New York University graduation commencement. I have since learned ‘do what makes you money’ works much better for me personally. I know, I know – it’s not exactly the stuff that makes a good Instagram post. And on one level, this approach goes against everything our culture tells us we should do with our careers. But there’s something to be said for financial stability. To a greater extent than most of us want to admit, you’re only as principled and independent-minded as your bank account allows you to be. ‘Do what you love’ is probably much better advice for someone who’s born rich or holds a tenured academic position than it is for the rest of us 99 per centers. And are we really so sure that the best thing to do with passion is attempting to monetise it, anyway?  

Why assume it’s easier to turn passion into money than it is to turn money into passion? Why not side hustle for love, and enjoy your career to make money?

Christopher Madison, CEO at Dentsu Aegis Network

Get your chunk of real estate and stock market

Properties are a great long term investment. You can buy land, you can buy into a REIT (a company that owns, operates or finances income-producing real estate) that is listed on the exchange. You can also build residential or commercial buildings. We still expect this year to have a lot of volatility for investors, because of what is also happening in the global economy. Therefore look for something that has value. Property prices keep rising. If you get an undervalued property, it will weather your investment more. The same goes to the stocks market. Try and get something that is currently undervalued. A lot of sectors like the financial services took a beating last year, so we expect earnings to improve this year. For example with properties, you can look at areas surrounding Nairobi, with undervalued parcels of land that are set for improvement infrastructure-wise. Those will benefit you in the long-term.

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Caleb Mugendi, an investment analyst at Cytonn Investments

Learn how to market your skills and business well

You have to market yourself so that people know about you. You need a compelling marketing message. To create that, you can use the XYZ formula. X represents the target group, Y represents their problem and Z represents your amazing solution. So that is: I help X who are struggling with Y and I help them get Z. For example, my marketing message can read: I help business owners who are struggling to grow their business and I help them learn how to get clients and make money.

James Karundu, CEO of Passionbiz Academy

Don’t work for free

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The biggest mistake I made in my 30s was giving too much value and credit where it was not due. People would request me to do a job because it would expose me to their networks and therefore other people would call me to work for them as well, be it for MCeeing or managing events. Most of the time, that does not work. In fact, the people that you charge are the ones who call you back because they value you. I discovered I had done a lot of work for free and the best I got out of it was that they would maybe give me food and fare. It never translated to return calls for business. So you can work for free if you want to, but don’t expect it to translate to future business. The best you can hope to get from it is to use it as reference when presenting your work to other people, so do an excellent job whether it is free or not.

Chris Kirwa, events strategist and COO, CateChris Ltd

Take a mortgage instead of a loan

A mortgage is an agreement with a financial institution that allows you to borrow money to purchase property. With this, you can get mortgage relief, where the law allows you to claim a tax relief of up to Sh25,000 per month or Sh300,000 per annum. If you plan to buy property, it is important to take a mortgage rather than an ordinary loan because an ordinary loan has no tax relief.

Dennis Mutunga, a tax consultant

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No matter what, have an emergency fund.

This will ensure that you do not have budget interruptions, because you will not be blind-sided by unforeseen expenses or an unforeseen reduction in income. A good safety net would be enough money to cover your current expenses for at least three months, but ideally, it should be six months. People with such contingency plans are not usually affected by sudden rises in costs or loss of job and businesses. This fund gives them enough time to fix the damage and get back on their feet.

Wahome Ngari, CEO of Personal Finance Academy

Before you get a loan…

Always consider two questions; 1. Will you get your money back? 2. Will it grow?

Then, when you borrow for investment, it is positive only if your investment return is more than the cost of debt. You should borrow towards growing your wealth. For example, if you are borrowing at 14 per cent in the market and invest in something that gives you 25 per cent, then borrowing is the right thing to do. That is good debt. However, borrowing the 14 per cent for personal consumption, such as going on holiday would be bad debt.  As long as you are smart about debt and use it the right way then it should be beneficial, and not something that people need to be afraid of. Don’t get a loan before you plan for it. Do the math and see if you can really afford it, then make a plan of action on how to pay it back. When making the plan, look at what areas you need to reduce debt and which areas you need to borrow towards. That will help you know how much your monthly payment obligation will be once the repayment period starts.
The plan of action lets you know how much you will be spending every month to pay back your debt and what is available for you in other areas. That way, you do not overspend before you pay off your debt. Use the cost of credit calculator, which is a recent development by the Central Bank and that is run by the Kenya Bankers Association. It helps you know how much you will really be paying once you borrow. You can find it at

Shiv Arora, the financial controller at Cytonn Investments

Invest, no excuses

There is nothing like a small or big income. You have to take your income and put away a portion for investing first, and then consume the balance. So your consumption should be defined by your income minus some investment. Of course there shall be some times when you cannot invest, but let that be an exception rather than norm.

Edwin Dande is a managing partner and CEO at Cytonn Investments

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Cytonn InvestmentsPanorama Consulting