Your Boss’ Job Is Not To Make You Rich

Andy Khumbanyiwa 

It never occurs to your boss even in her wildest dream to pay you in a manner that would make you rich. If employment was meant to make people rich most of employees would have been very rich by now and that would bring in a whole dimension to the dynamic employee-employer relationship.

Many people have changed jobs a number of times and each time they get a much better salary than in the previous job. But for most employees paydays are quite distressful.

When one does mental arithmetic on how much one needs to settle bills, pay back debts, buy food, pay school fees, clothe the family, meet cost of emergencies and other necessities the pay cheque always falls far short of requirements.

This teaches us an important lesson: employment alone is not enough.  If your boss paid you millions of kwachas every month you would only need to work for him for a short time and move on to do your own thing. The truth of the matter is that your boss badly needs your expertise for his organization to succeed, prosper and grow. This is why he wants to retain you at all cost. He will therefore pay you just enough so that you always need the next pay cheque.

If you want to be rich you should be looking elsewhere and doing different things. If you want to be rich, start your own business. Invest.  In Malawi, there are many opportunities for one to invest. I will give a few examples.

For instance one of the major health problems is malaria. If you are a doctor or nurse you understand this challenge more than most people. You could invest in the production and distribution of treated mosquito nets as well as teaching people how to install and use such nets.  Most people would buy your product – if the price was right. This is a much needed service to the nation. It can contribute significantly to reduce malaria cases; reduce death rates due to malaria; improve living conditions; and reduce household burden on the cost of malaria treatment. In the process the doctor or nurse will make a lot of money.   

If you are a trained agriculturist you could invest in a commercial farm. Many friends of mine are already doing this. I can assure you that they are doing much better than most equally qualified people who are in paid employment in the agriculture sector. A proper farm managed professionally and producing various food and cash crops, livestock products, with irrigation and agro-processing facilities; you cannot go wrong!

You will make a lot of money for yourself from sales of the various crop and livestock products as well as processed products; you will increase your annual production through irrigation; and you will provide much needed remunerative employment to some people in the vicinity of your farm.

In addition you could provide market outlet to products from the surrounding communities as well. Furthermore, your farm would serve as a demonstration unit for the surrounding communities in the adoption of recommended irrigation systems as well as crop and livestock husbandry practices.

If you are a trained teacher I do not need to tell you about the challenges and short-comings of our current education and training system. You could invest in your own school with responsive curricula and teaching/ learning methods to address and respond to the short-comings of the government school system. If the level of school fees was right, your school would be popular. Most of us would send our children and grandchildren to your school. In the process you will make plenty of money.

If you have been trained in entrepreneurship and business management you will agree with me that there are hundreds of thousands of people in Malawi who aspire to become entrepreneurs. Yet they have no clue on how to go about it.

There is nobody who advises people on business start-up and entrepreneurship. Somebody urgently needs to start providing this service. That person will not only provide badly needed service but he will also make a lot of money for himself. The foregoing are just but a few examples. The list of needed goods and services in our country is however very long.  How you manage the money you earn from various sources (employment, business, dividends etc) is equally important.

This business of squandering all the money we make cannot continue. Such expenditure pattern perpetuates our poverty and robs us of self confidence, respect and integrity. We should endeavor to use our earned cash very carefully and wisely. Among others we should always use a proportion of our earned money to build a personal fund that enables us to invest. It is however important to always seek professional advice from people who know before you rush into making investment decisions.

If you are not careful you can easily lose money that you have painstakingly saved for a long time, at a stroke of a pen. Many authors recommend that we should all endeavor to save 10 – 20% of our net incomes. Once you have saved for a couple of years you will have a reasonable “heap” of money which you can use to invest in business activities of your choice. It is through appropriate and responsive investment that our savings can be used to make more money for ourselves. It is essential that you know the difference between assets and liabilities and ensure that you use your money to buy assets only.  

Robert Kiyosaki in his book Rich Dad Poor Dad defines assets as those things that put money in your pocket while liabilities are ones that take money out of your pocket. For instance, a domestic utility car takes money out of your pocket through road taxes, insurance, maintenance and fuel. This is therefore a liability. If you have a house for rent presumably it will bring in positive cash-flows in the form of rentals. This is an asset. 

Our attitudes, mindsets, thought processes and value-systems are also of great importance. If your mindset revolves around poverty no matter how hard you work you end up being poor. As parents I urge you to constantly discuss success and basic principles of financial literacy with your children. It will instill in their tender minds the desire to succeed, make money and get rich. Our children and grandchildren need not make the same financial mistakes which you and I have made in life. In discussions with your children and grandchildren do emphasize to them that if they ever dream of becoming rich when they grow up it is not through salaries and wages alone that such dreams can be achieved.

They will need to think seriously about starting their own businesses and investing their hard-earned cash wisely (buying assets).   I am not naïve. I am a realist. Savings alone may not be able to finance people’s dreams. Given low salary/ wage levels for many people even if they really wanted the amount saved many not be that much.

There must be a deliberate policy by government to create a conducive environment to facilitate people’s borrowing for investment and entrepreneurship. Many of our cities have savings and credit facilities where members can borrow. However usually the amounts are what would be termed “peanuts”. Here is an opportunity for savings and credit institutions and micro-finance organizations to reach out to all corners of Malawi to provide responsive loans to a critical mass of potential entrepreneurs who have been waiting for ages to start their own businesses. This should include farmers, youths, women, school leavers. If the requirement for collateral can be eased a bit the impact and multiplier effect can be phenomenal.