Pyramid Schemes: Emily Kamunde-Osoro is the director at Rise & Learn, a human resource and leadership consulting firm.

Biggest money mistake: 11 years ago, I put Sh. 700,000 that I had borrowed to fund my Master’s degree in a pyramid scheme. Back then, talk of the town was that there were some investment companies that were giving serious returns on deposits compared to banks. I paid for my first semester, bought a fridge, and gave out the remaining amount to the pyramid scheme for investment. I thought it was a wise move to invest and earn some interest while I studied. In the first month, I got a cheque of Sh. 97,000. But the pyramid scheme burst before I collected my second cheque. I lost all my money and spent the next five years repaying a loan that I could not positively account for. I also had to come up with other options to finance my MBA. This taught me that I am capable of making terrible mistakes. In retrospect, my general principle is to move on if I can’t change something or if something is beyond my control.

Greatest milestone: Closing a partnership deal with Erickson Coaching International, a global network of coaches with bases in over 85 countries, comes on top. I achieved this months after opening my business. I was their first partner in Africa. This was lemonade out of a lemon, especially because I was having a low moment in business following a major setback that was instigated by a colleague in the industry. Always dare to dream big. Don’t settle for less if you can get more. And never miss the lesson in each your failures and disappointments.

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My secret to success: I don’t believe in freebies. I work hard for what I own. I have mustered the art of contentment through every stage of my life. The networks I build through my work life are my greatest resource in developing my business. Over and above this, I believe that the greatest of all assets is integrity, authenticity, and honesty. Stand on the shoulders of the giants in your field, and always remember that the longest route is a short cut. Choose the safe route.

If you want to make it in business and life: Run your own race and define success and wealth by the standards you set for yourself. Far too many people spend so much time in rat races that they forget their own purpose. I also believe that your shot at wealth will hit the bull’s eye if you invest in your passion.

If I could go back in time: I would slow down in order to accelerate my development faster. There are times when I have been overambitious, which is not always ideal when running a business. I would also set a best case and worst case scenario when making business projections. This is something I don’t do very often.

Saving method: Currently, I use Treasury Bonds, Treasury Bills, and education saving plans. I also save by investing my income on shares at the Nairobi Securities Exchange.

Entrepreneurship vs Employment: I advocate for entrepreneurship. I am convinced that businesses are a more refined way of accelerating wealth. They are also more sustainable in the long run. But for them to bring in the desired results as opposed to the monthly salary of a formal job, budding entrepreneurs must acquire the skills, knowledge, and wisdom necessary to steer a business. Nonetheless, I have also found employment to be a solid foundation for would-be entrepreneurs.

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