Interview with the firm’s Managing Director Simon Wafubwa
By Steve Umidha
Reinvention is a panic move for some ventures but for Enwealth, it is part of the normal course of business.
Successfully starting one of the country’s leading independent Pension Fund, Administration and Consulting firm with relatively little startup capital made it easy for Simon Wafubwa to take another big bold step for his next entrepreneurial trip – rebranding his firm Liberty Pension Services to a new beguiling phrase, Enwealth.
The firm launched in 2011 from its subterranean beginnings and multiple strategic pivots as a solidly entrenched financial services provider.
But in a clear case of “taking baby steps,” Mr. Wafubwa and his business partner gambled with the little money they had, and then saw their new startup quickly take off in the initial months of operations.
“We started out with little money but made quick businesses in succession, Sh 600,000 in the first month and Sh720, 000 in the second,” says Wafubwa, the founder and Managing Director of Enwealth Financial Services Ltd.
“Nothing forces you to make better and faster decisions, because you feel the pain of every mistake acutely. You’re more apt to respond quickly to what works and what doesn’t when you don’t have a lot of money,” he opens up during an interview in his office on Ngong road, Nairobi.
Enwealth is a business venture whose founders used their resourcefulness, hard work and resilience to create a multimillion-dollar enterprise, now over Sh40billion and already serving more than 100 corporate customers in Kenya, five years later.
“We gave it everything while starting out, we saw an existing gap and were determined to bridge it even though we knew we were introducing to the market a new brand that was not guaranteed immediate success,” says the father of two.
Wafubwa says it was an unexpected resignation from a well-paying local job that left him at a crossroads, “Work for someone again or do something myself.” He chose the latter, spending Sh300, 000 from his savings to begin the long torturous journey ahead.
“We bought our first furniture in Mutindwa at Sh6, 000 and a few other seats upon getting an office which we were paying Sh35, 000 as monthly rent,” says Wafubwa.
For a while the venture generated enough revenue to sustain itself and put food on the table, he says. But within five months, amid rapidly growing competition, Mr. Wafubwa made another major stride; he acquired an operating licence from Retirement Benefits Authority (RBA) – the industry’s regulator at a cost of Sh10million and later marshaled his team to a successful rebrand exercise.
“The re-brand has nothing to do with the name but rather as part of a growth strategy to boost our market share from 5to 20 percent to tap the SME market,” he says.
The soft spoken 38-year old maintains a resolve to grow his business methodically. Restraint, he tells me, has served him well. He didn’t even hire administrative assistant or personal assistant (PA) until he’d been in business long enough to begin contracting professional services.
“Those were the days when you were the PA to yourself, office messenger, administrator and your own manager,” he recounts wistfully.
Focus has also been fundamental to Enwealth’s ascent.
“One of our mantras is, Enriching Lives through innovative social security financial services. “Despite our history, we’ve been careful not to grow by pursuing every new concept that comes along as tempting as that can be by becoming laser-focused on what we do best, the ability to provide a service built on expertise and responsiveness to clients’ needs,” he says.
The company further seeks to grow its regional outreach with a more comprehensive product offering that includes the post- retirement healthcare funds for retirees and a diaspora pension scheme for retirees while leveraging on technology.
The takeaway is that lack of money won’t keep a good business idea; at least one that has been executed well from succeeding and the journey of Enwealth is a true testament to that.
About Simon Wafubwa:
-Age 38 years
-An MBA holder actuarial science, part-time lecturer at College of Insurance, has over 15years experience in pension business with practice stints in Nigeria and Tanzania
-Council member ARBS
-Married with two kids
–Started in 2011 with just Sh300, 000 capital
-Deals in Pension, Insurance, Property and Training (retirement planning)
-Set up its board in the 6th month consisting of 5 members has 23 permanent staff
-Presently managing a fund valued at over Sh40billion and growing.
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