Credit financing has grown to provide a lifeline to a majority of SMEs in Kenya and Africa in general. The Cytonn Foundation is privileged to provide mentorship to individuals who seek growth not only for their own businesses but for other business ventures as well. Laban Chege, the CEO at Nolybab Investments is one such entrepreneur. I caught up with him to learn about his entrepreneurial journey and his gains from the ongoing Cytonn eHub Season 2 in which he is a participant.
Victor: So, who is Laban and why entrepreneurship?
Laban: I’m a young Kenyan, who appreciates defining new order. I am a graduate of JKUAT and currently finalizing on my MSC (Finance) at KU. Entrepreneurship is the way of life, we have just one choice-embrace it.
Victor: You made the transition from employee to employer, was it a difficult decision?
Laban: Two things; it’s quite an easy and a difficult decision as well. I knew I had to quit since I’d set my eyes for a bigger challenge of developing and growing my skills away from employment. The objective was to serve the SME sector through a different vehicle. However, evaluating the transition from a ‘complacent zone’ to ‘Unknown’ is quite a puzzle. I, however, took comfort in the teachings of the Bible, Mathew 6: 26, the Lords feeds the birds of the air, so what about me?
Victor: If you weren’t the CEO of Nolybab Investments, what would you be doing?
Laban: I probably would be working in one of the Investment banks in the country analyzing the economic trends in the industry. It’s the final week of the month, I would be waiting for my salary and looking forward to the end year bonus in two months’ time. Victor, that’s the unfortunate state-of-affairs for most employees because they work for salaries and the employers use bonuses to lure them. Employees should constantly evaluate their growth and performance vis-à-vis their long-term career objectives.
Victor: Tell us more about Nolybab and your unique value proposition.
Laban: Nolybab Investments is a credit only company based in Thika, offering financial intermediation services to the SME sector. We began operations in March 2017 with a team of five intrinsically motivated staff. At the present, we serve an average of 103 clients in a month. We endeavor to offer quality and customer-centric services while observing a high turnaround time.
Victor: What have been your greatest challenges so far, and have you been able to overcome them?
Laban: I exactly don’t know how to rank them, entrepreneurship is a hotbed of challenges. Just to mention, we had a fraudulent client who managed to cheat our systems, although we have since recovered the funds, it was quite a huge plug since we had to suspend operations for one week. At the present, the impending political risk as a result of the extended electioneering period has affected cash flow in the economy and impacted on loan repayments.
Victor: Nolybab seems to be doing quite well, so why join Cytonn eHub?
Laban: Learning is a continuous process. Spending 50% of the human hours in academic class wouldn’t really guarantee success. E-HUB presents a platform to learn from the best in the industry and also interact with Cytonn Investments, a company we look up to as a role model.
Victor: What has stood out for you so far in the 9 weeks of training?
Laban: I must acknowledge that Kenya has a talented young people with a great passion for Entrepreneurship. Interacting with my fellow entrepreneurs, sharing our experiences and goals and learning from them has been encouraging and warm in a rather lonely path of entrepreneurship. Interacting with the market’s best; Julian Kyula of MODE was a major highlight.
Victor: Any last words to your fellow youth on entrepreneurship?
Laban: Trust the process, be positive and persistent. Gather as much knowledge and endeavor to put it into practice.
Victor: Thanks a lot for your time Laban, and all the best as you keep pushing to improve yourself and your company.
Laban: Thank you, Victor, for finding time to talk with me. Most sincerely, we thank Cytonn Investments for giving us an enabling environment to incubate our business.