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How I made my first million

By Vivianne Wandera | November 25th 2020

Tesh Mbaabu, the co-founder and CEO of MarketForce 360

At what age did you make your first million? 

I was 19.

How did you make it? 

I was running a creative design and printing agency. I bid for and won an order to design and print marketing materials for a global NGO which has offices in Kenya.  

How did you spend or invest it? 

I re-invested most of it into the business by buying more machinery to reduce costs associated with outsourcing. I also set up a new business with a friend - a movie shop in Nairobi CBD. 

The biggest money mistake you have ever made? 

Setting up the movie shop was the greatest money mistake - but I picked up two of the greatest business lessons. One, to never divest too early, and only invest in a business you understand well. 

What is the best investment you have ever made?

 I would say investing in myself and in my exposure through travel. Travel has made me see endless possibilities for innovating new products, business models and solutions in the African market. A combination of the international exposure and strong local market understanding is priceless. 

What is the worst purchase you have ever made? 

The movie shop. I bought a ready business that I did not understand and it went crumbling down. We eventually closed it a few months later. 

If you had a spare million or two, where would you invest it right now?

I would invest it in my current business - a software technology company. This is because I believe the business has potential to become a great success. 

What is the biggest money lesson you have learnt about growing it and making it work for you? 

Initially, we all have to work for money. However, I have learnt that the wealthy person has learnt how to make money work for them, through consistently investing what one earns. 

Where do you learn about finances? 

I read a lot of books about real success stories from entrepreneurs because I believe entrepreneurship is a great way to create wealth, while creating value in the society. I also stay curious to learn about different investment vehicles because I know I shouldn’t put all my eggs in one basket. 

Any financial myths you think should be busted? 

Money is not the root of all evil; greed may be. Money is a good thing because it can create freedom and prosperity, if well spent. 

What two personal finance rules do you follow? 

Live within your means; and work to make money as a tool to accomplish real goals. Real goals are not just about making “enough” money, because it is almost impossible to define “enough.” 

Investing or saving…Which one carries more weight?

Investing. However, they go hand to hand as saving to invest is acceptable. 

One can get rich easily... but how does one stay rich? 

By constantly making calculated investment risks, and always striving to be wealthy, not rich.

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