Waceke Nduati, the now famous personal finance trainer, is the epitome of resilience. I recently listened to her talk about how she started Centonomy, a financial literacy firm 10 years ago, and I was amazed at what a determined mind can achieve even in the bleakest of circumstances.
When she started out in 2009, she had no money, and was still being haunted by the memories of two failed businesses. (She clarified she only failed in one; only “her participation failed” in the other one.)
“I was feeling like a failure and inadequate,” she said last month during Centonomy’s Open Day in Nairobi.
One day, while still smarting from the “failures”, she went to the ATM and realised she had only Sh200 in the account. By then, she had already decided she wanted to go teach people about money, but she only had Sh200 in her account that she couldn’t quite withdraw.
She went home feeling sorry for herself. While in her bedroom, she heard a voice telling her: “Ceke, you are mentally able.”
She says she was so sure it was God waking her up: “So as inadequate as I felt, and as unprepared as I felt, I got some of the clients I used to trade stocks with and started helping them plan their money.”
And today, Centonomy is a household brand, training hundreds of Kenyans how to make better use of their hard-earned money. It is all thanks to the determination of one person.
To me, the story of Waceke Nduati is the story people who see the future and value what is in their hands. It is also the story of being good stewards of what God has given us – be it a business idea, money, or ministry.
As Robert Kiyosaki says, when faced with hard times, it is easy to sacrifice a richer tomorrow just for a few bucks or a brief good moment today. Indeed, giving up in such moments seems justifiable.
I remembered Waceke’s story of determination and endurance late last month while reading how Esau lost his birthright. Esau, who was a skillful hunter, comes home hungry and agrees to sell his birthright to his brother Jacob, “a mild man, dwelling in tents”, for a bowl of soup (Genesis 25:27-34). What stands out in this story is Esau’s attitude towards his birthright.
“And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright” (verse 34). He even said birthright meant nothing to him because he was “about to die” (which was a lie).
This is how ESV Study Bible describes Esau’s attitude: “While Jacob may be criticised for exploiting his brother in a moment of weakness, Esau is indifferent toward his firstborn status. He does not grasp the significance of all that God has promised to fulfil through the unique line descended from Abraham, of which he is the natural heir. Esau did not appreciate that his birthright was linked to God’s plan of redemption for the whole world.”
Our world today is full of Esaus – people who choose instant gratification at the altar of long-term gains. It is the reason corruption has become normal, even among some Christians. It is why some young women would rather sleep around with the so-called sponsors than work hard and earn an honest living. It is also why Christians would rather sell land at inflated prices to Muslims looking to build a mosque instead of selling it at a fair price to a fellow Christian.
How many times do security guards allow in suspicious characters into a public establishment like a hotel just because the suspects paid their way in?
Personally, I have been tempted more than once to abandon publishing this paper you are reading. But the Lord, who is rich in mercy, has enabled me to keep the fire burning even when things are tough. And it is for His glory.