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‘I lost Sh1 million in a land and greenhouses scam’

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  • 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 quit after sometime when a friend demonstrated that my money wasn’t gaining any value by passing it around, and was in fact losing out to inflation. I now 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 expense.

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. I teamed up with friends, we raised Sh1 million and decided to invest with a property firm that invested in land and greenhouses. Investors would 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 Sh700,000 in land and Sh300,000 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 Sh1 million back. This investment turned out to be a scam. We never received any returns or refunds, not even the first pay cheque. Our Sh1 million went down the drain.

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I started my career with my current employer about three years ago as an intern. I then climbed through the ranks 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 fail by letting where you have come lower your expectations in life.

As a big football fan, I also base my career growth in the way football team lineups are developed. A footballer will fail if he didn’t put work in the training sessions. 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.

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 business will not always make you rich or wealthy. Take a look at Tim Cook (CEO at Apple), Sundar Pichai (CEO at Google’s Alphabet Inc), and Satya Nadella (CEO at Microsoft). They are all very successful and are employed. Don’t quit your job to join business if you’re paid well, respected, and if your contribution is valued.

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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, your money won’t make you more money in a merry-go-round.

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