Thursday, 9 January 2014

Earlier today, I met Mr. Charles Njiru a.k.a. Mkombozi, a multi-millionaire industrialist based in Mwea, Kenya. Mr. Njiru owns the largest privately owned rice processing factory in Africa, Nice Rice Millers, valued at Ksh. 300 million. He also owns a supermarket in Embu and has vast interests in the hotel, transport and agro-chemicals sectors.
He was awarded state commendation in 2011 by the former president, Mwai Kibaki, for his massive contribution in uplifting the living standards of rice farmers in the expansive Mwea irrigation scheme. When I inquired about the secret behind acquiring such wealth, he gave me a list of the 8 secrets to becoming a multi-millionaire.

1)    Start now
According to Mr. Njiru, the best time to start working on your business idea is now! Most people remain poor due to procrastination. Letting opportunities pass as you await the perfect time to invest is the surest way of not becoming a multi-millionaire. He asserts, “Lack of capital should never be a barrier!” If you have a viable business idea, write a business plan. Thereafter seek funds from financial institutions, venture capitalists, mentors, family and friends. Any shrewd entrepreneur is bound to see the potential of your idea and give you some seed capital.
In the event that no financial help is forthcoming, start small with your little savings. Work hard to ensure you offer services and products superior to what is on the market, maintain good relations with your customers and suppliers then plough back your profits to increase stock and expand your market. Mr. Njiru began his vast business empire with Ksh. 2500 and loan of Ksh. 500 from an uncle.
2)    Engage in social enterprise
Social enterprises are firms that apply commercial strategies to maximize improvements in human and environmental well-being rather than maximizing profits for external shareholders. Write down a list of all the problems faced by people around your area and subsequently work on finding solutions to those problems. Let the main objective of your business be making your clients’ lives better so that the idea of not using your products becomes seemingly impossible for them.
In the Mwea Irrigation Scheme, famers would wait up to 3 months before having their harvest processed by the overwhelmed government-owned factory. Being an astute entrepreneur, he promptly converted the beer factory he owned to a rice processing factory. When operating at full capacity, the factory processes 150 tons a day, greatly cutting the time farmers used to take before waiting to polish their rice. Notwithstanding this, his plant processes a kilo of rice for Ksh 3 only. It also offers free storage for the rice, transports the farmers to their homes in company buses and even advertises the farmers’ produce all over the country absolutely free!
3)    Take calculated risks and perseverance
“Business is not for the faint hearted! “quips Mr. Njiru.  Don’t let past misfortunes discourage you from investing in future endeavors. Learn from your past mistakes and make better financial decisions. When you have a business idea, seek the advice of gurus in that industry to avoid falling into common pitfalls, learn how things work and how to maximize profits while at the same time remaining competitive.
Drawing from his own personal experience, Mr. Njiru made losses to the tune of millions in a number of businesses even after careful planning, but that never dampened his entrepreneurial spirit. Believe in your abilities and pursue your dreams even when those around you think it’s impossible. He attributes his success to taking calculated risks and perseverance. 
4)  Education
Though he never got a chance to be admitted to a university, Mr. Njiru is very passionate about education resonated by his zeal to ensure all his 3 children acquire at least a master’s degree. However, he faults the mentality held by many who amass impressive academic papers so that they can seek employment. He is of the opinion people should acquire formal education and afterwards supplement it with street smarts to develop life transforming business ideas. “That’s how our country can achieve double digit economy growth and reduce unemployment levels.”
He urges young entrepreneurs pursuing technical disciplines like engineering to also do business-related courses in order to effectively manage their start-ups. Students should also complement theory learnt in class with hands-on experience to effectively compete with their counterparts in developed nations.
5)    Continuously  seek motivation and mentorship
He blames the exponential increase of drug abuse, unemployment and disillusionment among the youth to lack of motivation and mentorship. “You need to hang out with multi- millionaires to become one!” he declares. ”Make an effort to attend talks and seminars held on campus hosting prolific individuals and get to hear their success stories” he adds. He explains that when you are continuously motivated by those who have faced greater hurdles and managed to surmount them all to achieve greatness, you become encouraged to pursue your dreams and also become successful.
 You should also read motivational books by prosperous business people, especially ‘Beyond Expectations: from charcoal to gold’, a biography of the late tycoon Njenga Karume.”  Apart from motivation he advises the youth to identify people they admire and seek to be their protégés.
6)   Rise above mediocrity and average mentality
In order to grow your ideas into a viable business empire, there is need to engage in high level thinking. View life in 3-Dimensions, exploring every possibility before making a major step. Talk to experts and learn about future trends in the sector of your interest regarding to government legislation, market forces and the ever changing technology. This will help you be adequately prepared for any eventualities.
There is also need to think big. Rise above average mentality by pursuing bigger dreams and not subscribing to limiting ideologies. He also dismissed the fallacy that in order to be a multi-millionaire one has to hold a powerful government position and embezzle taxpayers’ money. He advises the youth to desist from engaging in destructive habits and spending money on non-essentials.

7)   Do not look down upon any job
He observes that most young people hold this misconception that blue collar jobs are for the least educated. He affirms that we the youth fail to break into the multi-millionaires club by letting hype guide us in choosing careers. Being young and with relatively fewer dependants should entice us to move away from the stable 8-5pm jobs and pursue high risk – high returns opportunities like stocks. Blue collar jobs are the new cash cows since there are fewer players in the market. “Go wherever there is a coin to be made even in the trenches and that’s how you become a multi-millionaire!” 
8)    Grow your network
In the 21st century success of any business depends on 70% network and only 30% competence. Make as many friends as you can, from top government officials to your annoying neighbor and the shoe shiner on the streets. You will need them to get new clients, expedite processes and get a wind of new lucrative deals before your business rivals do. “It’s always easier to deal with a friend compared to a stranger
He also advises upcoming entrepreneurs to cultivate stronger network bonds by genuinely caring about friends welfare, go out of your their way to bail a friend out when in trouble. By doing people favors, you make them feel obligated to help you out whenever you are in need of something within their control.

By Mark Maina
Adapted from:  www.markmaish.com

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