Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Duncan Kanyiri: How I lost Sh. 1 million in land and greenhouses scam

Duncan Kanyiri is a branch manager at Fanaka Real Estate, a property firm that deals in the sale of land and property management in the Nairobi Metropolitan area.

My savings journey started with a merry-go-round. I thought it was a good way to save because I was not too exposed to proper financial savings and investments. I stopped doing merry-go-round after a friend who works in the financial sector discouraged me and urged me to quit. He demonstrated that my money wasn’t gaining any value by passing it around, and was in fact losing out to inflation. Since I dropped out, I have prioritized saving money as my first expenditure. I save through the sacco, insurance, and an interest earning bank savings account. I save an amount of any money I get before I budget for any other expenses.

A few years ago, I really wanted to invest in land for speculation. My aim was to scout for a place with low prices, buy land, and then sell it once the prices picked up. To achieve this, I got together with a couple of friends. We raised Sh. 1 million and decided to invest with a property firm that invested in land and greenhouses. The firm used investors’ money to buy land and set up greenhouses. Investors would then get ‘dividends’ from the proceeds of the greenhouses. It looked like an easy way to make money. The firm told us that it would invest Sh. 700,000 in land and Sh. 300,000 in setting up and running a greenhouse. After a couple of months, we would start receiving payments as returns for our investment. At the end of the contract, we would get our initial investment of Sh. 1 million back. This investment turned out to be a scam. We never received any returns or refunds, not even the first pay cheque after our investment. Our Sh. 1 million went down the drain.

I started my career with my current employer about three years ago. I started out as an intern at the firm’s digital marketing docket. I then climbed through the ranks from internship to a sales and marketing officer, then to a sales manager and finally to a branch manager.  In my journey, popular comedian Jalang’o and his rise from a fisherman to one of the best paid and sought after media personalities has been my driving force. He says that poverty was his single biggest motivator, and it has been for me as well. Poverty will define two things in your life; if you succeed by choosing it to motivate you, or if you don’t succeed by letting where you have come from be the reason for your lowering of expectations in life. As a big football fun, I also base my career growth in the way football team lineups are developed. A footballer will fail to train smart during training sessions aiming to impress in the field during the actual match only for him to fail making it in the final team. The same principle works in career development. If I don’t put my energy into my current position in hope that my qualifications will get me to the next, I will never move positions or salary scales.

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Most people who prefer business to employment do so to avoid accountability and responsibility. This is why everyone is in a rush to become an entrepreneur. But entrepreneurship will not always make you rich or wealthy. Take a look at Tim Cook (chief executive officer at Apple), Sundar Pichai (chief executive officer at Google’s Alphabet Inc), and Satya Nadella (chief executive officer at Microsoft). They are all very successful and all are employed. Don’t quit your job to join the business bandwagon if you’re paid well, respected, and if your contribution is valued.

I have made and lost money. This has taught me that money will come and go. The difference is in knowing how money works. This is what will give you an advantage. For instance, I started earning dividends and growing my savings through compounded interest when I learnt how saving money works. Your money won’t make you more money if it is passed from one person to the other without any value addition.

This feature on Duncan Kanyiri was first published in the Saturday Magazine. The Saturday Magazine is a publication of the Nation Media Group.

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