Monday, January 30, 2023

One On One With Jimnah Mbaru, The Entrepreneur Mogul Moving Tables Behind The Scenes…

Entrepreneurship is a long journey. Sometimes nobody knows when it will come to an end. Sometimes those who choose to embark on this journey fall, not once but many times. Some, after falling, rise and continue with the journey, while some fall and fall forever.

The power of an entrepreneur lies in never giving up. It is in the will to always move on, no matter what. It is the will to always bounce back with rejuvenated energy and move on as though nothing happened. It is about pushing hard, sweat, blood, and resilience.

Meet Jimnah Mbaru, a name not so new within Kenya’s economic circles but one that has tales of resilience and success, an inspiration not just to existing entrepreneurs, but upcoming ones too.

The 75-year-old entrepreneur has refused to grow old and has beaten retirement as his mind resists every attempt to rest as he constantly thinks about the economy and how to improve it. As the young Kenyans say, mambo ndio mengi, masaa ni machache.

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His entrepreneurial journey started way back in the 1970s when he left the civil service and studied for his MBA at IMEDE. Since then, he embarked on a journey that has seen him forge a career in finance that will remain a reference for generations to come.

“I am always thinking. Right now, I am thinking of what is required for this environment given the huge gap in venture capital. What if I set up a venture capital fund and get as many young people as possible to move into the Fintech Industry?”

That is Jimnah Mbaru. Always thinking. One wonders when he finds time for fun. In the 1980s, Jimnah with other financial institutions set up the Union Bank had a vision of establishing a “financial supermarket.” He moved on and bought an established brokerage company, Dyer and Blair, overseeing its growth and development into a fully-fledged investment bank.

“The language of money is an interesting one. It is mostly a silent one. If you rush into it, you might misunderstand it. It is a language of patience, studying, and predicting,”

says the who was once the Chairman of the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) in the 1990s and the co-founder of the African Stock Exchange Association.

The inspiration to set up the African Stock Exchange Association emanated from the fact that there were about 22 stock exchanges from West Africa, Southern Africa, and Eastern Africa, and some from the Arab North. “We wanted to find a way of working with these people, bring them together, and communicate.”

According to Jimnah, a good business leader should be ready to learn. He or she should not always be the smartest in the room for nobody was born to know everything. He says that communication with other members of the team who have different and varied sets of skills will equip one with the knowledge and power to guide the rest of the team.

“One can be a chief executive, you are producing products, the engineering department has to come and brief about the need for maybe a new kind of technology. The CEO may not necessarily understand everything technically, you still have to provide guidance and the leadership of the whole organization,”

he says.

Jimnah Mbaru has played a great role in developing and changing the stock market the way we know it today. He liberalized and laid it bare, making it possible for millions of Kenyans to own shares in big companies that they wouldn’t have imagined and making it possible for companies to scale and grow.

The stock exchange has handled major IPO including Safaricom PLC. His company, Dyer, and Blair played a major role in catapulting MTN Uganda into Kenya when they rolled out an IPO.

He says that one of his great moments of pride is to see a vibrant debt market in Kenya, both the government bond market and the corporate bond market.

“The corporate bond market has not fully developed, but the treasury bond market has.”

With all this rich history of success, one would expect Jimnah Mbaru to retire, to be somewhere in Dubai, enjoying his holiday and retirement in peace. But no. He is here. He always has more challenges to solve and retirement seems far, far away from him.

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