Growing up, it was mandatory for my family to go to church on Sunday. My mother was very strict about this and there was no way around it. However, there was an exception on the first Sunday of every month. This special day was reserved for my mother and her friends. They would come to our house, eat chapos, drink tea and laugh the whole afternoon. After my sisters and I had helped with the cooking and the cleaning, we were not to be heard or seen until the guests were all gone. My dad was not exempted from this either, he had to find somewhere to go. This was chama Sundays.
The idea of chamas has been in Kenya since the late 1980s and 1990s. Over the years chamas have exclusively been associated with women. Surprisingly, men finally joined the club and so have the youth. In case you did not know, chamas were formed for social welfare purposes. Today they have evolved to a major savings and investments avenue. It is estimated that there are 300,000 chamas in Kenya with 300 billion Kenya shillings of assets under management. Are you in a chama, better yet how much does your chama contribute to this 300 billion figure?
Nineteen years ago, a group of 29 friends came together with about 1 million Kenya shillings each and invested it. They invested the money in shares and bonds at the Nairobi Securities Exchange. Their initial total investment was 24 million Kenya shillings. Three years ago, their company made revenue worth over 200 million dollars which is approximately 20 billion Kenya Shillings. If you are a numbers person, you will realise that this is an increase of over 83,000%. I know, mind boggling right? It is therefore safe to say that the 29 friends are now multi-millionaires if not billionaires each. Well, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, that is a brief history of how Transcentury Ltd was formed.
The above is just one story of how people with a common goal can come together and work towards achieving it. I am sure there are even more. Perhaps we should consider borrowing a leaf from the story and change our attitude and notions. Most of us youngins are afraid or sceptical about working together. We do not want to share profits or we are afraid that other people might steal our ideas. The truth is, when we come together, we have even more opportunities. Someone might have a great idea but does not know how to implement it and eventually make some money from it. Uber, the leading taxi company in the world at the moment, was hitting a dead end in 2010. Travis Kalanick, the current C.E.O., tweeted that he was looking for a product manager with business development skills and got a reply from Ryan Graves. The rest as they say is history. Travis had a great idea but was not fully skilled on how to develop it, Ryan with his skills came in and filled this gap.
Working together, as a team comes with such kind of fortune. When we work in groups, we have the chance of combining knowledge, enlarging our networks and also sharing experiences and lessons we have learnt throughout the years. Making a loss in a business venture is not what entrepreneurs have in mind when they start but it happens. Isn’t it better to share a loss with other people and learn from it than making a loss all on your own and sulking alone?
As a matter of fact, Transcentury started out as a chama. This just goes to show that there is power in numbers. There is a reward when we unite and collaborate towards achieving our binding ideals.
Centonomy is binded by the simple principle and belief that everyone has the ability to create wealth. Working together as a company enables us to train people about wealth creation and in the end achieve the company’s goals. In our classes, we encourage people to work in groups to come up with ideas and solutions to challenges given. Centonomy also offers Chama trainings
by Michael Thotho