A few months ago I attended a Staff Day organized by a corporate to expose their staff to the opportunities at their disposal so that they can prepare for retirement. Invited were a number of companies in the real estate, banking and insurance industries mostly; with one vendor after another taking the stage to extol the values and virtues of their products or services. The event was quite boring to be honest. A few people were dozing and at some point I did the same and was woken up by a poke. It was Robert Yawe from Quadrant Shift Africa who had invited me to assist with a Cashflow Game session. Quite embarrassing eh?
While I was wondering how I would make it through the afternoon without falling in Morpheus arms again, this guy took to the stage. He said he was 70 years old, which I found hard to believe since he looked 20 years younger and was so much full of energy. From that time Danson Muoria Njihia owned the stage and the audience suddenly became alert and attentive as he shared the rich experience he garnered and lessons he learned over his 35-year experience as a civil servant and 15 years in retirement.
- Start thinking your life after retirement and start planning early
Born in 1945 in Kiambu County, Danson Muoria is married and blessed with six grown children and several grand children.
His first job was as a casual laborer at Nairobi city council in 1966. Raising through the ranks he was a junior admin officer at the time of retirement in the year 2000 after serving for 35 years.
From the early years, Danson belonged to Nairobi city council provident fund scheme. After promotions, he joined the senior staff pension scheme – then known as Local Authority Senior staff Super-annuation Fund; today known as LAP Trust. On retirement he was paid 1/3 of his contributions as a lump sum and the rest is being paid on monthly basis.
- Save something however small- there is no such thing as small money!!!!
From the time he started working for the Nairobi city council to when he retired his initial salary of Ksh.128 hadn’t grown much. However he had developed the habit of saving on a regular basis, either personally or through merry go rounds with other men. It reached a point where he was saving Ksh.100 per day. As a result he was able to invest in land and property. He gave a few examples of his investments in property, some of them being share holding in some of the landmarks of Nairobi; and it was easy to imagine how wealthy the modest looking man must actually be.Danson used the lump sum he was paid on retirement to buy two old 14 seater matatus but due to lack of experience he couldn’t go beyond 6 months and sold the matatus at half the price he had bought them – Kshs. 500,000. The experience taught him his first big lesson in entrepreneurship: Don’t go into a business you don’t understand!!
- Start what you want to do after retirement
During the early years Danson and his wife Joyce had started farming in a small way. After the collapse of the matatu business, they decided to go back to farming and cattle raring as that’s what they understood.
With the proceeds from the sale of the matatus and loans from the bank they were able to intensify and grow farming. Today they are the proud owners of three pedigree cows which produce 35 to 40kgs of milk per day and bring in an income of over Kshs. 40,000 per month; over 2000 layers bringing in Ksh.10,000 per week on average and a farm which produces an income of over Kshs. 5,000 every 10 days.
- Set goals and strive to achieve them
Apart from investing in the matatu business while he didn’t understand how it operated, Danson confessed of making another big mistake in his life: drinking heavily for 10 years. He only stopped in 1974 when he got saved and when he did, he started learning how to talk to his wife again.
Danson urged the audience to sit down and draw a plan of their life. “Know yourself and live within your means. Optimize every opportunity and time at all times. Avoid wastage. Act and work with others. Two hands are better than one. Go back to crossroads and start again in case of fall,” he further urged.Like other entrepreneurs Danson faces challenges such as unfavourable weather conditions, high cost of cattle and poultry feeds, lack of will in the labour market, scarcity in funding and lack of good markets for eggs and milk. These don’t dampen his spirits however, and his future plans are to further develop farming, growing it into a major income earner his advancing age notwithstanding.
Like other entrepreneurs Danson faces challenges such as unfavourable weather conditions, high cost of cattle and poultry feeds, lack of will in the labour market, scarcity in funding and lack of good markets for eggs and milk. These don’t dampen his spirits however, and his future plans are to further develop farming, growing it into a major income earner his advancing age notwithstanding.
With the kind of energy and self-confidence he exudes, I’m looking forward to hearing Danson Muoria Njihia talk again when he will be 90.
Your Friend in Biashara