It must have been in 1996. Just about to turn 30, I was the Chief Accountant for a parastatal that was doing well enough to have some excess funds for investment. Part of my ritual then included talking to Mr. James Murigu, a senior manager at the then Suntra Stocks Ltd to deal for us in the company’s bids for Treasury Bills from the Central Bank of Kenya.
Then one day, out of the blue, Mr. Murigu took me up on the phone. “Thambu, you know you keep on sending me your company’s money to invest and none of your own.” I had a long laugh that he must have understood. How could he possibly crack such a joke knowing our company bids were in the order of tens of millions? But he was not daunted. He took time to explain to me that a cheque of Ksh. 5,000 was enough to start me on the road to being a shareholder in companies listed at the then Nairobi Stock Exchange (now Nairobi Securities Exchange) or simply the NSE. This caught my interest. A little more chat and we agreed that he would send me account opening forms with the next dispatch of company documents that he was sending to us. Many exchanges after given the analogue world then, I had an account opened with a stock broker, my first cheque of Ksh. 5,000 in and my initiation process into the world of stock exchanges had begun.
The process of buying and selling shares in that age is a story worth telling. Another day may be. Thanks to Mr. Murigu’s determination, I learnt the ropes and became regular with my monthly cheque. One needs little urging to put the heart where their treasure is. So I naturally found myself drawn to stories on the business pages of the newspaper I used to buy. The NSE price list instantly became interesting. Miniscule dividend cheques started flowing as did occasional bonus share issues. My market vocabulary grew.
Slightly more than twenty years since, I have kept present in that market. As late as last week, I was on phone with my dealer to confirm my latest order had been filled. And quite excited to know that it was, because I think it is a pretty adventurous one. I may not be #Sharp but I am not so dumb as to stick around if there hasn’t been some interesting times.
I have had an enjoyable and fruitful presence at the stock exchange because I got initiated. I am sure you would too. I am grateful that Mr. Murigu had the mind to nudge me on, as I am sure he did many others. It is now my turn to return the hand. A Ksh. 5,000 cheque can still pick you some well selected shares at the NSE. The process of account opening, trading and investment tracking is easier by many multiples from when some of us began. Make up your mind today that you want to learn what dealing in stocks is all about. There is no better way to do this than to put some teeth in the game. In following articles, we will discuss what it takes to get started. But if you are ready to take the plunge sooner, feel free to engage through your comments.