201412-realpeople

It is a widely documented fact that money is a thorn in most people’s flesh. Wealth creation is regarded as an art that requires a mental shift if one desires to attain financial goals and freedom that comes with it. ESTHER KIRAGU talks to Patrick Wameyo, a financial literacy educator and coach, who offers valuable financial lessons.

Isn’t it interesting that many people pay thousands of shillings to obtain a degree that will earn them a good job and income, yet do very little in form of education and time to learn how to invest this hard earned cash? This is possibly why two people could have the same education and information, but one will use it to make money while the other won’t.

It is with this in mind that Patrick Wameyo, a financial literacy educator and coach, set out to empower people with not just knowledge but practical skills on financial management. Having attained vast experience throughout his banking career spanning over 15 years, Wameyo set up a Financial Academy to help him achieve this goal.

He manages the academy with his wife Beatrice Rachuonyo, a qualified accountant with a career experience in micro credit and logistics management. Beatrice is the operations director responsible for administration, finance functions and business coordination.

The couple has been married since 1999. Wameyo says he enjoys his marriage because his family is built on the belief of possibilities. They have three children aged 16 and nine years, and a four month old baby. He hopes their children will join the financial academy when they grow up as it is a family business, but adds that it will be their choice to make.

The career path…

Wameyo describes his life as a sum total of many mistakes and experiences, which have all come in handy throughout his life. One such experience is walking out of his mathematics and computer science programme at Egerton University after two years. Despite the fact that he did well in mathematics throughout his secondary education at Sawagongo High School in Siaya, he didn’t enjoy this course at university.

“As a person I like to extract information and make it applicable and I felt this degree didn’t offer me that. I switched to a course in horticulture management,” he explains. Upon graduating, he got a job as a production officer in a horticultural farm in Naivasha. He lasted only a week in this job.

He later took up a job with Standard Chartered Bank in Nairobi in 1995 as a graduate trainee in business development. Aware that he had no knowledge in banking, he enrolled for a two-year chartered banker’s course and became one of the youngest graduates.

As part of his career growth in the bank, he was trained in personal banking in 1999 and this arose his interest in financial literacy. From this interest, he decided to pursue a Masters degree in Business Administration (MBA) at the University of Nairobi and shortly afterwards enrolled at the Strathmore University for a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) programme, a professional credential offered to investment and financial bankers and professionals.

During his tenure at Standard Chartered, Wameyo rose up the ranks to work with the top 15 companies in Kenya as their relationship manager. His work mainly entailed managing relationships between clients and the bank, and also appraising clients’ viability for credit facilities. He is thankful to his first boss at the time, Mr. Allan Blades, who believed in him and gave him many responsibilities that enabled him gain experience and grow his career very fast.

After eight years with Standard Chartered, in 2002 he moved to Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA) Kenya as the general manager in charge of corporate banking. His stay there, however, lasted only nine months as he struggled to fit into the already structured system where he didn’t have as much input as he would have loved to.

When a job came knocking in 2003 at the Housing Finance Company, a leading mortgage provider and premier property company in Kenya, he took it up. “Housing Finance was a good place to work but at the time it had just rebranded and was recovering from its bad past. In addition, it lacked many resources, which constrained its growth,” he says.

He made another move to Barclays Bank in 2004 with a view of supplying several housing units to Kenyans at a time when the housing market was on the upsurge. He recalls one of his biggest successes at Barclays Bank being the ability to convince the board to approve a mortgage policy worth millions of shillings. But to his disappointment the policy was not implemented four years on.

The 2008 post election violence happened just when he had resigned from Barclays Bank to pursue his dream of starting his own business. This turn of events brought a new dimension to his plans.  “The country’s economy was negatively affected and I knew it would take a while for the financial markets to normalise. This led me to put my plans on hold and seek employment. I was employed by British American Company in May 2008 in their asset management unit, a position I held for one year then left to pursue my dream when the situation in the country had normalised,” he says.

Running a financial academy…

Wameyo established the Financial Academy and Technologies Limited in 2009 with offices along Ngong Road in Nairobi.  The aim of the company is to develop the first-generation of entrepreneurs, who come from families that have never ventured into business.

His target is to empower five million people in East Africa who will associate their financial success with him and/or his ideas. In his analysis, majority of Africans are born into families that have never delved into business, and this really differentiates them from those families that do business, for example, the Asian community.

“They are high risk-takers and not passive risk-takers like employees. They crave for freedom unlike employees who craves for security. They build wealth as opposed to employees who mostly make money,” he explains the difference.

Wameyo considers himself an ambassador of people born into families that have never been into business, having grown up in a typical rural setting in a village in Siaya, Nyanza.

“I grew up in an environment where all I knew was that I needed to work hard, go to university and get a good job, which I did. However, when I began earning a good income at an early age, I didn’t have the know-how of saving, investing and making more money. At the time, most of my age mates used to earn half my salary, yet some were doing better than me,” he recalls.

Although he says he didn’t live a flashy lifestyle, Wameyo was very generous and always helped anyone who was in need and came his way. At the time he didn’t realise how much money he was giving away as he never counted. He ended up wasting about six of his prime years when he had a lot of income and opportunities to invest due to his uncalculated generosity.

By the time he caught up, he was 30 years, already married and with a family, which meant he had more expenses and therefore little left for saving. It is this experience that has made him to put up a platform where he offers financial consultation services to those below 35 years who form his target market as they are in their prime years and he wouldn’t want them to make the same mistakes he made when he was their age.

“Every week I receive about 15 emails from people from all walks of life seeking advice on financial matters and I am happy to help. Financial literacy entails more than just personal finances. It is more than being able to balance a checkbook, budget, compare prices, or get a job. It is a continuum that also includes skills like long-term vision and planning for the future, as well as the discipline to use those skills every day to make money, grow it, keep it, and spend it. This requires a mental shift in order to conquer beliefs that you previously didn’t deem possible, seeing your own results, and seeing the possibilities,” he says adding that anybody can be empowered to believe he can be a job creator but that requires a change of perspective.

“Many typical employed young people live a lifestyle that they are not capable of supporting financially. They own things on credit and things have moved from bad to worse since 2002 when credit facilities were made easily available to the Kenyan public. Today, for instance, many young people hurry to buy cars on loan, live in bigger and expensive rental apartments on credit when their true financial status doesn’t allow such a lifestyle,” he says.

One of the key examples he talks about is the flamboyant and expensive weddings people hold today, and how many people take up loans to support their consumer behaviour. From his experience he notes, “Many people will only seek financial literacy education when it is too late and they are buried in financial woes like debt.”

He advises people to strive to live lifestyles that they can afford rather than put up a false image, which will later bite them financially.

Wameyo is currently working on launching a business school to teach entrepreneurship from practical experiences. The aim is to have it as a franchise model in various parts of East Africa by 2030. The school aims at inviting people who have business ideas and helping them actualise these into viable businesses.

Wameyo also offers career transition services to individuals who are entrenched, unemployed, or leaving employment. He also helps banks and Saccos develop their credit personnel by offering them financial advisory skills. He also gives financial talks to students in various universities. In addition, he writes a financial advice column in one of the local dailies. He enjoys spending his free time with his family and also doing some farming.  esther@parents.co.ke

Published in December 2014