Sunday, May 26, 2024

Big business lesson I learned after losing money in joint potatoes investment

Co-Op post

Funke Michaels is the author of Women & Wisdom Series, a Communication  Specialist and an Agripreneur. She served as the Managing Director of Fintech startup ShareHub Kenya, an online platform that uses smartphone games to teach people how to invest in the stock market.

I once invested in an agribusiness joint venture to produce international strains of potatoes for local industries. I invested heavily without considering the effects of a prolonged election year on the flow of produce from farm to the table. We lost a great deal of money in this potatoes investment, but learned an important lesson in understanding the markets and execution timing.

On the other hand, I have had many wins personally, yet the past wins are only a foretaste of the expected wins in our future. I considered ShareHub (the very execution of that laudable, impactful idea) to be one of the moments I am most proud of.

I save using several methods. I have a number of ‘disciplined’ savings accounts each used for investment on a specific project. I also have instruments that allow me the flexibility of liquidity as and when needed. And I do belong to some strategic peer investment chamas. I believe in project-specific saving with discipline in executing my personal growth strategy.

I have enjoyed the best of entrepreneurship and employment. And from my experience, I have seen that entrepreneurship gives an unparalleled opportunity to pursue one’s own business goals.

That said, I believe that paid employment prior to entrepreneurship is also a good training ground where would-be entrepreneurs can learn from existing structures, systems and processes. These are very useful in starting (and running) one’s own business. It’s a bit like being paid to go to management school while learning on the job.

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If we put our minds to it, and we put our hands together to build it, we will have an outcome that makes us all proud. This philosophy works across all spheres of life for those who genuinely want to see change in the world.

It is only possible when we collaborate: and this was the story of our success at ShareHub. We built on strong partnerships, committed collaborators and the desire to see more people play, learn and invest in our local economies.

ShareHub was the brain-child of several early collaborators. At the onset, market research conducted by C&R Group showed gaps in retail investment, especially within the 18 to 35 age bracket.

We knew that the infusion of trading and investment interest would bring this group into realization of their own profit potential, and positively impact our local economy. Seeing that we were addressing a young, vibrant target group many of whom are already game-enthusiasts, we honed in on edu-gaming as the key to reaching our target audience.

We were fortunate to receive initial investment from C&R Group, and became fully operational since September 2021 when we began piloting and gamer interactions within the Kenyan end-market.

The business wasn’t without challenges. We had to reconcile the relative anonymity and digital opportunities offered by an online platform, with the reality of our audience actually wanting to come to our offices and interact with us.

When it comes to money matters, people prefer to meet the organization and gauge authenticity in person. To aid this and to further build the confidence of our gamer-investors, we opened our office doors once a month for in-person training with insights on how to carve an investment strategy, and what to watch out for when actively trading on the capital market.

A version of this profile feature on Funke Michaels was also published in the Saturday Magazine. The Saturday Magazine is a publication of the Nation Media Group.

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