Successful entrepreneurs are renowned for seizing opportunities which generate profits for them. These opportunities often appear remote to ordinary mortals. Unlocking them is therefore not a walk in the park. In their journey to excellence, entrepreneurs take many risks and it is a challenging journey which is often full of ups and downs. It cannot be successfully undertaken by the faint hearted and resilience, determination, hard work and focus are hallmarks of successful entrepreneurs. They are also able to embrace the second habit that is highlighted by Stephen Covey in his masterpiece, Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, that is – ‘beginning with the end in mind.’ From the word go then, these entrepreneurs focus on the bigger picture and the fire in their bellies is not put out by small distractions.
In a nutshell, this is the story of the visionary entrepreneurs behind the establishment of Springboard Capital Ltd. They started their audacious journey in 2000 by forming a social group dubbed Kunyamarania (Kikuyu word for supporting one another). Today, that social group has morphed into a solid credit only microfinance institution, which is playing a pivotal role in the economic empowerment of many households in Kenya, hence keeping their dreams alive.
By coincidence, the founders of Springboard Capital Ltd first met in 2000 as members of a committee put together to help raise funds for a friend’s son travelling abroad to pursue a master’s degree course. During their meetings, they bonded quite fast and became friends. By that token, after the fundraiser, they decided to be meeting regularly in order to support one another in times of need. Four members opted out of this committee leaving a team of fourteen.
The visionary friends started by saving only two thousand shillings per month. With time, they increased the amount to five thousand. Over time, they had accumulated substantial savings. Eager to grow the kitty further, they started deliberating on how the same would be invested. Since most of the members were entrepreneurs, a decision to start lending themselves money was arrived at. That was a stroke of genius. The lending business turned out to be a huge success. The members therefore decided to embrace it as a long term venture. That move led to the establishment of Springboard Holdings Limited in 2009 with a seed capital of Kshs. 3 million. As time progressed, the founders resolved to grow the business by bringing their close friends on board.
In 2011 Springboard Capital was registered as a fully-fledged lending company. Four shareholders (including Mr. Karanja, the first CEO) volunteered to run the business which was located in a tiny office at Kensia House on Murang’a Road. The first chairman of the lender’s board of directors was Mr. Rodrick Munuhe.
Lending money is a very delicate business even among relatives, friends, and business associates especially when it comes to paying it back. To that end, Springboard Capital Ltd came up with stringent measures to check on defaulters from the word go. To that end, they employed Steve Mburu as an accountant whose main duty was appraising loans. Most importantly, the company formed a vetting committee that would meet twice a week in order to go through various loan applications. As the business continued to pick, they moved to a more spacious office (still at Kensia House) and recruited the second employee, Peris Nyambura as an office assistant in 2012. Later, more employees came on board to handle other functions in the growing business. As the first chairman of Springboard Capital Ltd, Mr. Munuhe oversaw the relocation of the lender from Kensia House to CPA Centre along Thika Road in 2016. That is one of the boldest moves that the company has ever made. He closely worked with Mr. Karanja in executing that task.
For a man who was tasked with the role of guiding Springboard Capital Ltd during its infancy and taking it to the next level, Mr. Munuhe confesses that much as it was demanding, it was very fulfilling. The task was made much easier by the fact that he widely consulted the other directors and staff members while mapping out the lender’s strategy and making critical decisions. By the time he was retiring, Springboard Capital Ltd had come of age. The lender’s volume of business had grown in leaps and bounds and in that regard , it opened two branches ( in Thika town and Nairobi’s central business district), employing more members of staff.
In 2016, under the leadership of Mr. Munuhe, the lender made a decision of inviting non-shareholders to its board so as to inject new ideas and professionalism. The timely move also strengthened the lender’s corporate governance. It is in that respect that four non shareholder directors were appointed with the experience, technical skills and competence in Human Resources and Governance, Finance Management, Business Development, and Legal Matters. As Springboard Capital celebrates its tenth anniversary, the fourteen founding shareholders look back to their challenging journey with a lot of joy. Mr. Washington Ndagu, took over as the chairman of the board of directors, after the retirement of Mr. Munuhe. Given the humble beginnings of Springboard Capital Ltd, the steady growth and expansion of the lender over the years is worth celebrating. It has been ten years of sweat, blood, patience and above all, a strong will to steer carefully in uncharted waters.