There’s a thin line between risk and reward.
Get it right and you’ll be on your way to the dream that is financial freedom. Get it wrong and the dream turns into your worst nightmare.
One of my closest friends -Kenny, recently found himself in the worst nightmare scenario, to put it mildly.
Practically inseparable during our formative years, the two of us went to the same schools all the way through to campus.
Even back then, it was very easy to tell that Kenny had an appetite for risk that could rival a hyena that had been starved for 4 miserable weeks.
Always the first to take the step into the unknown when every other member of our ‘gang’ cowed in fear, it made sense when he took his degree in hospitality and management to the Middle East.
After a year or so he soon landed a well-paying gig as part of the cabin crew in Dubai’s Emirates Airline.
We tried to keep in touch over the years.
However, the years, the distance and my own personal journey in this thing called ‘adulting’ caught up with us.
Daily chats soon turned to weekly ones, then monthly ones before eventually turning into the yearly happy birthday messages.
Checking his Instagram and Facebook posts was how I was able to keep up with his life.]
This was until the pandemic struck.
“Heading home. New chapter,” was the cryptic message he shared the day he lost his job after the global transport industry took a major hit.
Mixed feelings ran through me.
On one hand, I was happy that my lifelong friend was finally coming back. On the other, I was sad that he was now part of the growing list of unemployed Kenyans.
I immediately chatted him up on WhatsApp.
Choosing to ignore his current predicament, I opted to focus on the potential good that could come out of his return.
Our dynamic duo was soon re-united.
A lot had changed since our young and reckless campus years.
Kenny now had a wife and kid, while I had a missus and was working towards a little one of my own.
We were soon all caught up on all that had happened since he left for the proverbial and ever elusive greener pastures.
This was how I got to know that he had lost Ksh4 million to an uncle who was supposed to secure him some property in Kitengela that was meant to be raking in some serious money by the time he decided to come back.
Shock on him as his unexpected return led to the sad discovery that his kin had gobbled up all his hard-earned savings.
Sadly, this has happened to a lot of Kenyans working abroad, was all I could come up with in my weak attempt to console him.
Never one to dwell on past failures, he soon embarked on yet another journey to secure a future for his young family.
Thanks largely due to his discipline when it came to saving up, Kenny still made his way back home with a sizable bank balance.
This meant he had a plethora of offers from his bank in terms of access to even more money, which he needed to kickstart his journey into his first big idea, chicken farming.
I made it as clear to him as I could from day one that farming, especially chicken farming, was a high risk undertaking that would need thorough research prior to taking it on, and full commitment afterwards.
Still harboring the appetite of a starved hyena, Kenny went all in. Well, almost all in.
Thanks to some friendly intervention, I managed to convince him to shelve his plan to start out with 2,000 chicks.
He reluctantly settled for the 500 chicks for starters that I had in mind.
Setting up the necessary structures at his family’s farm in Thika set him back approximately 120k, with the 500 day-old-chicks setting him a further Ksh50,000 back.
Little did he know that this was only the beginning.
He soon learned in the hardest possible way that the first 8 weeks were not only the most time demanding ones, but financially demanding as well.
With little chirpy chicks each consuming at least 50 grams of chick mash during this period. And a kilo of this bird delicacy going for Ksh50, he soon found himself pouring more and more money into the new business.
By the time his chicks got to their 9th or so week, their appetites doubled.
This time they needed growers mash which was retailing at Ksh35 at the time.
Then it happened.
Out of nowhere the chicks started dropping like flies.
In just 2 hope-draining days, he was down to just 3 feeble chicks that looked to be on their last legs.
I couldn't find the words to offer him any sort of consolation.
His high risk appetite took a major hit as he sunk into mild depression.
Not even his infectious positive attitude offered any sort of help at the time.
That's where I came in. Pointing the potentially bigger loss he would have taken had he jumped in blindly with 2,000 chicks, I managed to get a smile out of him.
Don't get me wrong, I am beyond happy that he is finally over his slump. \
However, I was still surprised when he called me up the other day with the enthusiasm of a 4-year-old who had just downed a 1 litre bottle of Fanta.
He had just finished a month-long research on starting a small logistics venture and wanted to get my thoughts on the subject.
There’s a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea we are now afloat.
And we must take the current when it serves. Or lose our ventures – Brutus
In Julius Caesar Act IV, Brutus speaks these words to Cassius in a bid to convince him that it was time to battle against Octavius and Antony.
The underlying message in the famous statement is that if one takes advantage of a high tide, one may float out to sea and travel far.
If one misses the chance to do so, then he or she will remain forever confined in the shallows, where he or she will experience nothing more than the mundane events in a narrow little bay.
This was the last thing I said to Kenny when he came over to seek out my advice on whether or not he should risk it all. Again.
This time he was looking into a food delivery venture, with boda bodas at the heart of it.
Did I do the right thing, or had I just sent one of my closest friends to the guillotine?