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Saving for prosperity

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With Lorraine Lusinje:

We had an iconic statue unveiled in the country last week. It will be one of the moments that will stick in the history of the nation for many reasons. Very interesting. I will leave it at that.

Talking about history, let me proceed to the issue of the day. When we live our lives today, how many times do we consider what our history will end up being 30 years, 40 years, 60 years from now? What do we see when we consider the years to come and look back at the years that have been?

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Here is one scenario: A man does well professionally all his life, rising to senior positions across companies, becoming the idol and inspiration of most young men and women. Two decades later, these same young men and women meet their idol looking hollow and destitute, his confidence sucked in by desperation and shame. What happened? He did not save enough money for the future.

Our history, years from now, is what we make today. Our future well-being is what we make today. They say nothing good comes easy. The same applies to the issue of savings; saving can be hard for most people. This is especially true because most people operate on a hand-to-mouth basis and cannot fathom reserving some of the little that is there.

However, the issue of not saving spreads to even those that have means because it goes beyond having no means; the bottom line is the culture that has been ingrained in the lives and minds of people in the country. We often look at only our short-term needs and fail to reconcile the fact that a future will still come where we will not have the energy to work every day but will still need to pay bills and sustain ourselves and families.

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A good concept that defines saving is the concept of building a house. Any house we see looking majestic and upright started with one single brick and a succession of bricks piling up to build the whole. The problem is we want to see the savings turn into a house all at once (most of us are guilty of this), and this makes us think the little we try to put aside cannot amount to anything.

A 30-year-old that makes K300,000 today can make a commitment to save 10 percent from that salary, ceteris paribus. After another 30 years, this young man will have K10,800,000 at his disposal. This is way more than he could ever make at a go unless he worked some serious Voodoo. Plus this K10.1 million is minus interest he can accumulate if he invests the money the right way which could even be double the amount, ceteris paribus.

If I had K30,000 at my disposal this moment, I could purchase a bundle, top up some groceries, fuel my car and buy lunch for the day. Finito. This will give the impression that K30,000 cannot build to a bigger investment. And this is what hinders us from thinking about the future and making the necessary investments to safeguard our future and that of our families.

Most people might have failed to save because access to financial services was limited and considered elitist. In recent years, thanks to technology, financial services are following people to their doorsteps. Most financial institutions provide services that reach people in their communities through mobile agents and mobile phones, people can transact with the most basic phone. Mobile network providers are also assisting in this sector by providing money services such as Mpamba for TNM and Airtel Money for Airtel that allow people to have accounts where they can deposit, send and withdraw money even from remote areas of the country.

These services are catalysts for financial inclusion and, consequently, a savings culture that can be revamped in our society so that we see more people saving for the future through savings plans and investment plans. Gone are the days when financial services were only for people considered the elite in society.

History is what we make today, let us make one that we will look back at with a smile because it has yielded fruitful returns.

I rest my case.

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