Just a few years ago, I discovered a gem from an old, dusty pile of books my dad keeps in the garage. The title was quite familiar as I was pretty sure I had seen or heard someone talk about it before. Paging through the book out of curiosity, I picked up paragraphs with green highlights and pencilled notes across different chapters and when I further interrogated the details of the book, I realised the handwriting belonged to my mother. It then dawned on me why she is so pedantic about instilling healthy financial values and constantly preaching about generational wealth whenever money conversations come up.
Rich Dad, Poor Dad, written by Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter is one of the most influential and widely cited financial self-help books of all time. The book mainly challenges the mindset ingrained in us and shifts the perspective of financial literacy, while advocating for financial independence, practically taking readers through the importance of building generational wealth.
I was four years old when the book was published back in the 90’s (don’t do the maths), I couldn’t help but acknowledge the shift in the era we are living in today, where women have not only become sole breadwinners in the household but are breaking barriers, taking charge of their personal finances and actively participating in building the economy.
A great example of these women are Co-founders of Imvelo Wealth Solutions, Siba Njoba and Palesa Tlholoe, who run an advice driven financial planning practice, and part of their mandate is to advocate for women to reach their full economic potential.
During our scheduled video call, I could hear Palesa’s children in the background as she picked them up from school, and Siba rushing home to get settled for this conversation for #WomenomicsThursday about women being the custodians of building wealth in our generation. This is how the conversation went…
How did the idea of your organisation come about?
Siba: Palesa and I studied towards a post graduate diploma in Financial Studies together. Throughout a series of discussions, she wanted me to come work with her at her previous place of employment. She was working for another insurance company at the time. Through our interactions we realised how passionate we were about the industry and that’s when the seed was planted, fast forward to later in life, we decided to start our own institution.
We were both irked by the lack of transformation in this industry and one of the ways we could be agents of change was to start our own business in an environment that would enable us to bring about the change we wanted to see it.
You both took a giant leap of faith, leaving your stable careers to venture into business. Briefly take us through a summary of how it started and where you are now.
Palesa: After we both decided this was the step we are taking, we were fortunate to be employed within the same industry. Siba was enrolled in a programme where she received tools to start a business. Similarly in my case, I received tools to set me off to a good start. What also helped was the fact that I was vocal about exactly what I wanted, and what my goals were from the onset. We had clearly defined goals which helped us to transition to the world of entrepreneurship.
Siba: Having Palesa as a business partner was a plus. The most important component in a partnership is having the same values and alignment. From where we are sitting, I won’t say there are no challenges, but it gets easier when you are both aware of the bigger picture and vision.
Why are you so passionate about the advancement of women?
Palesa: I grew up in Sterkspruit, a rural area on the borders of Free State and Eastern Cape. You would think women are oppressed in the city, but it’s even worse in rural areas. When you come from a place like that, you know that you only have to work hard to advance yourself. Once you get to a place where you are better informed, you then want to empower other people. My passion in life is to empower young girls and women to be financially literate. This career was a calling, and therefore my aim is to impart the knowledge I have to other women so they can make better decisions for themselves, going forward.
Gone are the days when it was enforced on women to stay at home, take care of the household and children. Women are taking charge of their financial future. In your view, how are women challenging the status quo?
Siba: Women have woken up to the fact that they have to take charge of their personal finances and build generational wealth. If you look at the divorce rates, you will notice how the increase has opened up conversations that women are adhering to, about ways to protect and acquire their own finances. Women have had to equip themselves for worst case scenarios in life. Women are thinking about the end game, just in case
Palesa: On the other hand, some women have made the conscious decision not to marry or delay the urgency of marriage while building and equipping themselves personally and financially. Those are the signs that indicate that financial literacy and independence for women is important. We are seeing more women show up to the financial literacy events we host as an organisation. There is a mindset shift, and a step in the right direction.
How would you define generational wealth and why is it important that we have constant discussions (especially for women), on the subject matter?
Palesa: Majority of white people come from families where wealth is already generated. They don’t start from zero whereas someone like you and I, may have to start from scratch. Chances are, their parents had in place a business, life cover, unit trusts and different types of financial investments. Truth is, not everyone can start a business to acquire generational wealth so, that means we should look at other ways to grow wealth such as having estate plan tools in place, saving and investing.
It’s a sad reality that what is most common in our culture is the focus on securing a funeral policy for a fancy and dignified funeral, but unfortunately that doesn’t create generational wealth. We need to shift these mindsets.
What’s the basic principle of handling lump sums?
Siba: The answer to that question is easy. Seek financial advice. The same way you go see a doctor when you’re sick or an attorney for legal matters, do the same with your finances.
Palesa: If we’re being realistic, financial education is even better. If you save a little, surely you will be able to manage a bigger amount. We need to avoid buying into the ‘social media lifestyle’. Live within your means, and rather plan for the future. You might have money now but lose it tomorrow. These are the mindsets we need to educate people about. We tend to think money lasts for ever. It doesn’t.
Our economic climate is currently not too accommodating to drastic financial moves women might want to make. What advice can you share for women too scared to make financial moves?
Siba: As scary and as unpredictable as it is in this day and age, it’s important for women to pursue their dreams – whether that’s starting a business, changing a career, taking a sabbatical or studying, it’s important to have a thorough plan. Just have enough reserves covering your financial obligations for the next 15 or 24 months before you proceed with your plan.
Palesa: Also, plan for failure. It’s good to be optimistic but be honest about your financial situation. Make sure you save. Siba and I had to be prudent and realistic about the little we had when we started, we needed to find innovative ways to raise money. You need to be prepared. There are months when you’re not going to be paid. You don’t know if another pandemic will creep up. Bear in mind that it’s not a smooth ride but if your game plan is solid, you will succeed.
Wrapping up this conversation Siba highlighted that we are still suffering from the social injustices of our country’s history. “I believe that it is in this generation where we will see change. It all depends on the decisions we make, that will help us fulfil a better future for our children. We need to be a generation that is intentional about the legacy that will be based on the decisions you and I make, today,” concludes Siba.
Imvelo Wealth Solutions is currently running ‘Investing in 2021’ Masterclasses. Follow them @imvelowealth across social media platforms for more info.
Tel: +27 (0) 10 1095 097