“From dealing with student loans and debt from mobile loans apps to helping others build financial stability”
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After battling debt from student loans and mobile apps right out of university, Agatha Wanjiru took her financial destiny in her hands and created a plan to get her out of debt. She documented her journey and now, she’s helping other people build financial stability via the Wealth Tribe.
We spoke about her journey and how she’s currently helping people make sense of their finances.
Let’s start with your name and what you do
My name is Agatha Wanjiru. I’m Kenyan and the founder of The Wealth Tribe.
What’s the Wealth Tribe about and what’s the community like?
It is a community of over 18,000 young people who openly talk about money and help each other build wealth. It exists currently as a Telegram group where we ask questions about personal finance, investing and any wealth related topic. There’s also a blog, email list, telegram community and YouTube channel where I share wealth related topics.
18,000 is huge! What inspired The Wealth Tribe community?
I finished university in November 2016. Luckily, I started working immediately and my pay was pretty decent compared to what other fresh graduates earn in Kenya. Between November 2016 and Mid 2018, I was in a lot of debt.
I had the student loan debt that I incurred from the Higher Education Loan Scheme in Kenya. While my salary was decent, I didn’t have any financial literacy so I wasn’t budgeting and got into more debt.
We had these mobile money loan apps in Kenya, where you could just fill in a few details and borrow money. I had at least 10 of those and I was stuck in the cycle of borrowing from one loan app to pay another.
I realized what had happened one day when I was seated in a bus on my way to work and one of these mobile money lenders called and said that they didn’t care that I don’t have money to pay back, they were going to text my contacts and find me either at work or at home.
After that call, I began to introspect, there was no reason to be in that position and I began to read about personal finance, watch videos and slowly began to help myself out of debt.
I started writing articles and documenting my journey to financial freedom. I wrote on Medium and my friends would encourage me and soon, I realized there were people like me who had the same problems. I founded The Wealth Tribe to cater to people like me.
This is interesting and very inspiring. A lot of people battle with these mobile loans apps too. Are Kenyans your major audience?
Mostly, the people I serve are Kenyans but my blog has 35% readership in the US and I think it’s because my content is relatable. I serve a few Nigerians too.
My digital products are mostly bought by Kenyans and Kenyans living outside the country.
Let’s get into your digital products. What digital product did you first create to sell and what inspired it?
My first digital product was an ebook titled “14 habits that will make you wealthy“. I first shared it as a blogpost and on Pinterest. It generated 5000 shares on Pinterest and I thought to myself that people must be really interested in this. So I did more research on it, converted the article into an ebook and added more context. A lot of people loved it.
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Do you still sell this ebook?
Yes, I still do, I sold 10 copies the first time it launched and that was very encouraging. I have had a couple of challenges selling digitally, especially the automation part. For example, when someone buys a digital product at let’s say 3 AM, they have to wait till morning when I wake up for me to send them the product. Having to wait till morning means that some customers suspect that I’m a con, haha. I’d love to automate this process.
How many digital products do you currently have?
Seven. Including a masterclass that I host quarterly. On a bad week, I make 5 sales which is not bad. I am still growing, so I am allowing myself to learn as I go.
What are your major challenges selling digital products?
I think my biggest challenge has been automation. I would like my customers to receive their products immediately after making payments as opposed to sending it to them manually. I know I have to get a programmer to fix that but I can’t do that yet because of my limited budget. For now, that’s the biggest challenge I’ve encountered.
How did selling digital products change the way you view money.
I’ll say that more young people should be open to creating online businesses. When I created my digital product and made my first sale, it changed my perception about money and work.
Generally, we’re used to showing up at work for 30 days before getting a paycheck. I’m not saying it’s bad to be employed. But being employed means your salary is based on your input. But if you create an online business, it means that your input is not tied to your output. So whether I sleep by 10pm, people will visit my website and buy. The minute you start thinking about your career in this light, there’s this freedom and autonomy you experience.
I believe that creating an online business in this era will give us the freedom that we desire.
What do you think is the biggest financial mistake you’ve seen people make with their money?
I try not to call it a mistake because when you dig deeper you find out that it stems from lack of financial literacy. People don’t budget.
They’ll just receive their salary and live through life. Then, by month’s end or mid month, they ask: “where did all my money go?” So, it becomes a big problem.
Another problem is taking loans or accessing credit without a plan to pay back. It’s how 80% of Kenyans live. There’s also the problem of not saving for retirement. I have clients in their 40s approaching retirement that are panicking and looking for ways to start saving for retirement.
They are not exactly mistakes, people just don’t know better. Nobody teaches us about money – in school homes, church, nobody teaches how to budget or even file taxes.
Did you study anything finance related in school?
No, I studied project planning and management. But we did a few accounting modules in school.
What’s next for you?
Currently, I am working on getting my financial modeling and valuation certification. I am also working on making my digital products more automated.