Edith Tendwa, 57, might have been a little lost when retirement came knocking, but the long empty days soon offered an opportunity.
I think the main misconception about retirement is that it is the end of the road for you; that you should just go home and live out the final years of your life doing nothing. Unfortunately, this can lead to depression and early death.
I knew I did not want to be this statistic, so when I was ready, I made a decision to follow my passion and set up my Human Resource (HR) Consultancy, Exceliq HR Solutions, as the sole proprietor. My capital was minimal and apart from investing in a laptop, printer and business cards, everything else like fliers or creating a profile I did online.
I used to be the regional human resource manager at Engen, the petroleum company where I had worked for 24 years, having started as the executive assistant to the managing director and working up the career ladder. Prior to that I had worked for nine years at Nairobi Safari Club where I started as a casual typist to my last role as executive secretary to the general manager. I enjoyed the human resources management role as it enabled me to impact many people using my skills, from facilitating training on new HR systems and values, change management sessions, recruiting employees that were an asset to the organisation, providing career guidance and motivation, and the downside, which was handling disciplinary matters.
When I retired in 2019, I had already reached the company’s retirement age of 55. I remember feeling scared then as I had worked for 33 years and gotten used to receiving a salary and benefits. Now having to fend for myself was not going to be easy. Financially, I had to really monitor how I spent my money and cut down on expenses. I remember that before I left work, my employer organised a retirement training that skilled me on how to remain active in retirement, ways to invest my money and also to make other income.
Further, I also contracted a life coach who helped me handle the transition from employment to retirement. She greatly assisted me in getting the right mindset that enabled me to see my capabilities and how I could still add value to society. I was purposeful in my coaching sessions and also attending other courses that were organised. Through these two women, I have transformed and settled into retirement very well and I am thoroughly enjoying it, as I get to do things that bring me joy and bring value to others.
Looking back, I did not prepare myself sufficiently for retirement. I hadn’t saved enough. I should have appreciated that the company had a pension scheme and saved a lot more. Thanks to that pension scheme, I receive a monthly annuity that is basically my salary now. My advice to others is to start saving and investing for retirement as soon as you start working, even if you start with a little amount.
Build it up if you can. Spread your financial resources through either saving, take out life or personal pension policies, invest in property or land that will appreciate, trade in the stock exchange, buy treasury bills and so on. Just find an investment where your money is secure and is able to appreciate in value over the years until you reach retirement. If you are a person who spends money easily, find investments that lock your money so you can’t withdraw it.
RUNNING THE BUSINESS
What has been your experience so far running your consultancy?
Consistency is the key where you continuously advertise your services and promote yourself through your groups, free trainings you conduct and participating in webinars. I have also learnt that I must create a lasting experience with my clients to ensure repeat business or referrals to new clients.
What do you love about running your consultancy?
I have always loved human resources so when I am able to provide my professional services to companies or individuals and they achieve their goals and recruit employees who are an asset to the company, or a client gets a job after I have rewritten their CV, I am very fulfilled.
What are the challenges you have experienced running your own consultancy?
I got the famous “imposter syndrome” where I felt I was not good enough and wouldn’t succeed, but through my coach I was able to overcome this and realise that business does not grow in one day and start bringing in profits. It takes focus, understanding why you are doing it and creating a business plan. Also, I have come to learn that clients are not scarce, they are out there. So you need to believe in yourself and go out there, hustle and get them. Further, once you get a client to offer your services, be professional to ensure repeat customers and referrals.
How has Covid-19 affected your business, and how were you able to counteract the effects?
It did impact my business as most companies were either cutting down on staff or recruiting, or changing their business priorities. However, I took this opportunity to upskill myself either through online courses or reading motivational books. I am currently reading Atomic Habits by James Clear.
How can you compare employment and self-employment?
Employment, especially when you are working in a conducive environment, is highly beneficial as you grow your career, get bonuses and salary increases that enable you to plan for your future. You also gain numerous skills and build networks. When it comes to self-employment, although it comes with freedom, flexibility and its share of rewards, I do feel that it is slightly harder as you are the one who decides how your business is going to work and where your income is coming from.
Apart from work, what else do you do for fun?
Family means so much to me and I love spending time with them.
Whether you are retired, employed, or running your own business, remember you are worthy. God has a purpose for you here on earth so use your talents to impact others.
Secondly, seek the required assistance to prepare you for retirement, either a retirement specialist, life coach or anyone else who will enable you to remain positive even during the storms.
Finally, retirement is not doom or gloom, but a new phase in your life where you can enjoy the fruits of your labour whilst also creating a positive impact in the world.