Elizabeth Munga has worked as the Group Head of Strategy and Business Planning at Britam Holdings Limited.
Secret to building wealth: My secret is popular: saving and investing early. It takes discipline to create and maintain a wealth base from which future benefits will be reaped. In this journey, I have nonetheless learned that as women, we will tend to be risk-averse despite our discipline in saving. I believe that with the right guidance and coaching, we should try our hand at riskier investments such as real estate or stocks.
Biggest money lesson: The biggest lesson that I have learned when it comes to money is the principle of Pay Yourself First. Before I pay my bills, buy groceries or do anything else I set aside a portion of my income to save or invest. In the beginning, I wasn’t a much disciplined saver. I would save whatever was left over after paying for all my other expenses. Today though, I make much larger contributions to my savings and investments, and adjust my lifestyle to fit whatever is left over.
Career and side hustle: Having a side business that seems small may reap huge benefits in the future. Personally, I am always inspired by the story of Warren Buffet’s first entrepreneurial venture which he started when he was only 13 years old. He and a friend purchased a used pinball machine for $25 and installed it in a barbershop. Within a few months, the profits enabled them to buy other machines. By the time he emerged from college at age 20, he had nearly $10,000 from his “childhood” businesses. Today, Warren Buffet is one of the richest and most respected businessmen in the world and his name is practically synonymous with his biggest success: Berkshire Hathaway.
Mentorship: While mentoring relationships are important for everyone, they are essential for women. Always find yourself a mentor, or let a mentor find you! The majority of women who have succeeded in their careers and reached positions of influence give significant credit to their mentoring relationships. Nonetheless, I have learned that education is by far a woman’s most powerful secret weapon to success in the corporate world. You must seek education and let your young girls do the same!
Employment vs Entrepreneurship: You are not likely to succeed if whatever choice between these you make is driven by a simple desire to get rich quick. I am a firm believer of the mantra of doing what you love and allowing money to follow you. If it is employment, work in a field that you love. If it is entrepreneurship, let it be a business you’re passionate about.
The corner office: Yes, there are fewer women in top corporate positions earning less compared to men. I believe this is due to job choices and pay growth. On one hand, men and women tend to gravitate towards different job choices. Unfortunately, the most popular choices for women tend to pay lower than the most popular choices for men. For instance, a woman with young children may have a job with a title that reflects her seniority but opt to work at a company that pays less in exchange for more flexibility. In the same vein, men’s wages usually grow for a longer period of time and achieve higher levels than women’s on average.
This feature was first published in the Saturday Magazine. Saturday Magazine is a publication of the Nation Media Group.