Wikam: My experience taught me that you need a good plan before shifting from employment to business

Roberta Mwikali is the founder and Lead Consultant at AFI Solutions Limited, a consultancy business that helps MSMEs set up business accounting systems. PHOTO|POOL

What you need to know:

  • I left a job in 2018 to set up my business. At the time, I did not have any savings or any other source of income
  • As I went through this experience, I realised the importance of having an emergency fund
  • Looking back, I  would also start investing from the day I receive my first salary and first payment from my first client

It took me a long time to start to save or invest.  When I eventually started, I used to save in the bank. Then I quickly found out that saving in the bank is not an ideal long-term saving plan. I found this out by calculating the difference between the interest money saved in the bank earned and the rate of inflation. I shifted to money market funds, stocks at the Nairobi Securities Exchange, and capital reinvestment in the business. This is not to say that saving money in the bank has no value whatsoever. Banks are good for short-term savings. To ensure that I stay the course in saving and investing, I have a financial coach and accountability partner. We meet monthly to chart new courses for the growth of my business and investments.


I left a job in 2018 to set up my business. At the time, I did not have any savings or any other source of income. This led to many multiple personal financial challenges. Without an income, my house was locked due to mounting rent arrears. I reached a point where I started struggling to raise school fees for my daughter. At my lowest, I sought support from my friends to buy food. As I went through this experience, I realised the importance of having an emergency fund. I also discovered that shifting from employment to business needs a plan. You cannot just wake up one day and leave without knowing where sustainable income will come from. On the brighter side, this tough season was a moment of growth since it pushed me to fully engage with the business and commit to getting and retaining clients.

For a long time, I spent my money without following a budget. Inevitably, this always left me either broke or in debt. It is easy to view a budget as a form of financial bondage because we all want to work hard and party harder. But as I continuously run broke from breaking budget rules, I realised that the budget is meant to keep our money in check.


I registered this business in 2012 and incorporated it in 2018. The business has rolled out an accounting and finance service portfolio. It will soon be rolling out an investment portfolio. In a world where many people think financial stability is hard to attain, my greatest achievement has been supporting a variety of organisations to set up financial systems, grow, and in turn provide job opportunities to others. When I look back and think of what I’d do differently with this business if I were to start all over, I would actively start operations from the first day of registration. I would also start investing from the day I receive my first salary and first payment from my first client. A lot of time was lost in the years between 2012 and 2018 that could have largely benefited the business.

We are all gifted differently. Some of us are great employees while others are great at entrepreneurship. It’s important for you to evaluate yourself and understand your strengths and weaknesses and where you fit best. My greatest asset has been having the right mindset. Most of us believe that it’s tough out here. The economy is in bad shape. And so we fail to ever launch anything. Yet there are still many opportunities we can tap into with the right mindset. Life is what you make of it. Always choose to see the best in people and in situations. When you go through life with a great attitude, great things start to happen. Be a great steward of the resources you have, whether money, time, or gifts and talents.

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