groups…

My first real school of money…

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“Kidole kimoja hakivunji chawa” is a swahili saying that really describes the power in and value of numbers. Not so much for quantity but the benefit of two plus heads being better than one. As an addition to my previous post, allow me to share learnings from being a part of investment groups…

My first real school of money was with a group of friends whom we had gone through uni together. It’s here where I learnt to set goals, discovered the truth about books and acquired an appetite for saving. Each month we’d report how we were doing and for some reason I was the one always trudging behind on my ‘reading’ homework. Today I look back and I’m absolutely grateful for the experiential teachings that came from the lot. And though our portfolio was nothing near expansive, we did make decent returns from the stock exchange. In fact, these guys helped me engage in the baffling world of finance and to-date I still call on their help.

A couple of years later I joined another group that was more structured. Each monthly meeting was more exciting than the previous one and financial literacy became our primary focus. We all did our best to hand in our ‘assignments’; the learning – to say the least – was exhilarating! I also had the privilege of doing the group’s book of accounts. And what do you know, my accounting skills improved significantly! The greatest benefit for me was immersing myself in the world of mathematical models. Nothing near Archimedes 🙂 but stuff that was good enough to help grow my personal portfolio. Money markets which was previously a theoretical financial concept was now coming alive and the numbers were speaking astounding truths 🙂

I can’t quite call my current cohort a group as we are members of the same nuclear family. Sometimes we invest together. Other times we go apart. Most times we ran things by each other and bail one another; a silent code if you could say so. Our parents have been very instrumental in shaping our thinking and challenging us to do more with what we earn. “If you don’t take the risk, you’ll never own anything!” We are currently exploring SACCOs and trying to see how we can leverage our resources.

The benefits of group cannot be discounted. They are actually synonymous to companies that are able to bring in more revenues than sole proprietorships in the same trade. Key to the success of groups – especially because of their social setup – is patience. (1) Patience for processes; a lot of thinking, a lot of structuring, a lot of consultation is required to get it up and running smoothly. And especially because these start out as a part time venture. (2) Patience for profits; returns don’t come immediately. It takes a lot of work and sometimes paying experts. The hardest is dealing with failure. A discussion rarely broached. But patience is required to win over a loss. (3) Patience for people. All social setups call for patience with each other and with self. Patience to build relationships and figure out what works best for the group.

FIRMEnough

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