FAQs for the NSSF Act of 2013

The National Social Security Fund Act, 2013 (the Act) was enacted in 2013, but its implementation was challenged in the courts almost immediately thereafter. However, the Court of Appeal on 3 February 2023 issued a Judgement that effectively reinstated the Act.
The Act repeals the previous NSSF Act (Cap 258) and introduces a new Pension Fund and Provident Fund to replace the previous Provident Fund, which is now closed.  The Act increases the coverage, range and level of benefits provided by the NSSF, allows for contracting out of making second tier contributions to the NSSF and introduces measures to strengthen the corporate governance of the NSSF.
The Act has implications on all employers, employees and existing retirement funds in the country.
The purpose of these FAQs is to serve as a guide for employers and help answer many of the questions employers may immediately have on the Act and how they may comply with the Act.

When is the Act effective?

The Court of Appeal reinstated the Act in its Judgement on 3 February 2023.   Hence, the Act is effective immediately from this date and the statutory contributions at the higher rates are effective from the month of February 2023.  Hence, employers need to ensure the statutory contributions under the Act are deducted and paid starting from February 2023.
A notice of appeal has been filed indicating the intention of the County Pensioners Association to seek a review at the Supreme Court against the Court of Appeal's judgement. However, no formal application has been filed to the Supreme Court to delay the implementation of the Act.

Registration and Compliance

What is the registration process under the Act? Do we need to re-register?

The Act requires every employer who under a contract of service, employs one or more employees to register with the Fund as a contributing employer and also register his employee(s) as members of the Fund.
Employers who are already registered with the NSSF do not need to re-register.   However, they need to ensure that all their employees are registered with the NSSF.
All existing individual members of the NSSF do not need to be re-registered.
The Act provides that proof of registration with the NSSF will be a precondition of dealing with or accessing public services.


What are the new contribution rates?

The rates of contribution to the new Pension Fund are at 12% of Pensionable Earnings (split 6% by employees and 6% by employers).
Pensionable Earnings are defined in the Act as all emoluments payable to an employee other than fluctuating emoluments, but subject to a ceiling (called the Upper Earnings Limit in the Act which is equal to four times National Average Earnings as published by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics in the Economic Survey each year).
There total contribution is then split into two tiers as explained below.

Are the new rates calculated on gross/basic pay?

The Act defines monthly wages to include all allowances (except fluctuating allowances) and would thus suggest that the new rates be based on the gross consolidated pay excluding fluctuating emoluments.  However, the Regulations under the Act appear to have an error in drafting which will for the time being enable contributions to be deducted based on basic pay excluding allowances.  This is however still subject to legal interpretation and clarification.

What are the two tiers of contributions under the Act?

There are two tiers of contributions under the Act as follows:
  • Tier I Contributions - contributions on earnings up to the average statutory minimum monthly wage (called the Lower Earnings Limit in the Act)
  • Tier II Contributions - contributions in respect of earnings between the minimum wage and the earnings ceiling (called the Upper Earnings Limit in the Act).

Tier I contributions need to be paid directly to the NSSF.    Tier II contributions will also be paid directly into NSSF, unless the employer elects to opt out and, in such case, the Tier II contributions can be remitted to a retirement scheme chosen by the employer.

How are the statutory contributions to be phased in?

The original Act provided for the contributions to be phased in over a period of five years.   We are seeking clarification on whether the original phasing in will now be applied.
However, based on the communications being issued by the NSSF, it is our understanding that at least for the first year, the original transition is being retained.
Hence the maximum contribution payable under the Act by employers for the first year is K Shs 1,080 of which the Tier I Contribution will be K Shs 360, and Tier II Contribution will be K Shs 720.   The same amounts will apply for employees as well.  This is based on an Upper Earnings Limit of K Shs 18,000 and a Lower Earnings Limit of K Shs 6,000 in the first year.
Note for employees earning less than K Shs 18,000 per month, a lower amount will apply.

Will the contributions be deductible for tax purposes?

Yes, the Act provides for the statutory Tier I and Tier II contributions to be deductible for tax purposes.

Do contributions need to be made for staff employed on contract terms?

The Act applies to all employees regardless of whether they are contract staff or not and the statutory contributions will apply.

What does integration with NSSF mean and how can my scheme be integrated?

A retirement benefits scheme might be described as 'integrated' if its Rule provide for the contributions payable under the scheme to be net of statutory contributions to the NSSF.  For example, in an integrated scheme, the contributions will be defined as '10% of pensionable salary, less any contributions made to the NSSF'.
For employers with schemes that provide for integration with NSSF, the impact of the new statutory contributions is mitigated because, for most cases, the increases in the required NSSF contributions are automatically offset by a corresponding reduction in the required contributions to the retirement scheme.
An employer who participates in a scheme in which the contributions are not integrated may amend the rules to provide for such integration.

Contracting Out

What does ‘contract out’ or ‘opt-out’ mean?

Employers who operate their own scheme or participate in an alternative scheme (e.g. a multi-employer umbrella fund or personal pension plan) will have a choice to contract-out or opt-out of making Tier II contributions to the NSSF. This does not mean the employer does not need to make Tier II contributions. Specifically, it means that the employer can remit Tier II contributions to their separate scheme instead of remitting these to the NSSF. Tier I contributions have to be remitted to NSSF.

Is the 'contract-out’ option (Tier II) in relation to employee contributions only or to both employee and employer contributions?

The ‘contract-out’ option covers both the employer and employee contributions. The employer makes the application to opt out of paying the Tier II contributions into NSSF in respect of its employees if they participate or chose to participate in a contracted-out scheme or they opt to establish one and meet the requirements for contracting out.

How can I ‘contract-out’ as an employer?

As an employer you can opt out of Tier II contributions if you have an established or participate in a registered retirement benefit scheme that qualifies for and is approved as a contracted-out scheme.

Should I contract out?

This will depend on whether you wish to remit all the required contributions to the NSSF, or if you wish to remit a portion of these contributions to NSSF and a portion to another registered scheme.
If you already have an existing retirement benefits scheme you will probably want to contract-out so that the bulk of your pension contributions can continue to flow into your existing scheme. You will need to amend your current scheme rules for this purpose.
If you do not have an existing retirement benefit arrangement you may set up a retirement benefits scheme or join an existing umbrella fund for the purposes of opting out.

What are the requirements of contracting-out?

The scheme receiving the Tier II contributions must meet a Reference Scheme Test, with the key requirements being that the Scheme:
  1. is registered with Retirement Benefits Authority and the Kenya Revenue Authority;
  2. is compliant with the investment guidelines under the Retirement Benefits Act;
  3. maintains an accurate record of the Tier II Contributions (which will be known as Protected Rights); and
  4. provides benefits that in the same form as required to be paid under the Act for Tier II contributions.

If my employer has ‘contracted out’ – does that mean I do not have to pay any contributions to the NSSF?

No, an employer still needs to be Tier I contributions to the NSSF.  Tier II Contributions may be paid to an alternative arrangement chosen by the employer.

What happens to the historic contributions that have been made to the NSSF by employers and their employees?

The accumulated contributions to the NSSF will be retained in a separate fund (called the Old Provident Fund) for a period of five years and the benefits will continue to be processed from this Old Provident Fund.  The Act is silent on whether the amounts in the Old Provident Fund will eventually be merged with the new fund, although this would be the likely expectation.

How will the benefits under the new NSSF be different to the old NSSF?

The Old Provident Fund provided only lump sum benefits on retirement, death and permanent emigration.
The benefits under the new NSSF include a retirement pension, an invalidity pension, a survivor’s pension, an emigration benefit and a funeral grant. Members may elect to receive a part of their benefits as a lump sum at retirement (not exceeding one-third of the accumulated Tier II Contributions) with the balance paid as a pension. Retirement age has been set at 60 years with early retirement available from age 50. Members will have their pension secured as an annuity from an insurance company of their choice using the total funds in the individual member account.  A member may also opt for income drawdown (or a phased withdrawal of the funds in their individual member account) from an approved drawdown provider.
Both the invalidity and survivor’s benefit provide for an enhanced benefit subject to a requirement that a minimum of 36 months’ contributions to have been made by the member. The enhancement is to the Tier I Credit which will be increased to allow for half the lost potential service (due to early ill heath retirement or death), subject to a maximum. The funeral grant is in addition to the survivor’s pension and is set at KShs 10,000. It requires the member to have made at least 6 months’ contributions.

What should the immediate next steps for an employer be?

It will be necessary for all employers to review their existing arrangements (including remuneration structure, existing retirement benefit arrangements, end of service gratuity arrangements, etc).
Employers will also need to ensure that all their employees including “casual” and “seasonal” employees are registered and covered.
Employers who have or participate in existing retirement benefit arrangements will need to review the existing scheme provisions to understand what amendments will be required in order to have the scheme approved as a contracted-out scheme.    The Act enables some time for modifications to existing retirement fund documents to be made (one year).   Subject to the level of contributions in the current arrangement, it will likely be possible for an employer to completely mitigate the financial impact of the Act.
Those employers that do not currently participate in a retirement scheme will need to consider whether to make all contributions to the NSSF or join or establish a pension scheme that can become an approved contracted out scheme for Tier II contributions.
Employers who have end of service gratuity benefits will need to consider how best to provide for the accrued gratuity benefits and how to modify future gratuity accrual in light of the new Act.
All of this will need expert guidance to ensure that the right decisions are made.

How can Zamara help you?

As the leading pension experts and the market leaders in our industry, Zamara is well positioned to assist you to comply with the provisions of the Act, including undertaking an assessment of your existing arrangements and for those employers who wish to contract out, offering a simple, seamless, efficient, cost-effective solution for contracting out through our flagship umbrella fund solutions.
Please email us on nssfhelp@zamara.co.ke to discuss how we can help you.


Question: I am planning for retirement. Should I buy an annuity with my pension fund to get a fixed income for life or take my pension and start a business in old age? What are the pros and cons of investing in annuities? Kindly address the retiree’s need for a regular income, investment risk profile, health, and views on longevity. The real dilemma is that the older we get, the less risk we should be taking with our pension fund.


Planning for retirement is a phase that we all need to pass through at a point in our lives. When at this point, we need to be patient with ourselves and make lifelong decisions that will suit us in our retirement life considering all factors in our life stages.

In retirement, the greatest need of a retiree is liquidity to meet their immediate needs on a day-to-day basis. This brings the member to look into retirement options that will ensure one has sufficient funds to take care of their expenses as and when required. The retirement options are either accessing the fund as a lumpsum or getting a solution that will enable the member to have a monthly income either through an annuity or income draw down option.

On accessing the lumpsum, most retirees think of securing a source of income (often considering rental income) or starting a business. The decision to start a business in old age with retirement funds has been discouraged due to the high fail rate that has been experienced. Based on an industry research done in 2018, it was established that over 60% of businesses started in retirement failed and the main reason attributed to this failure was lack of expertise in the business amongst many other risks associated with running a business especially in retirement. These risks are prone to expose the retiree more into old age poverty if the capital originated from the pension funds and if the business fails. Nevertheless, a good business can give one a steady source of income in retirement. To mitigate the risks, one can start the business during their working life as a ‘side hustle’ so that they can gain the knowledge and experience required for that that particular business. If one strongly believes that they have a solid business idea which they would want to implement in retirement, then it is advisable to consult those who have carried out a similar business and also go as far as engaging a business coach so that they can guide you in setting up the business and its system.

Prudent financial advice guides that a member needs to have a source of defined retirement income. The options available in the market is either the annuity or income draw down. An annuity is an arrangement where a member will transfer their fund value to an insurance and purchase a monthly pay out for the rest of their lives. The pay-out is what is referred to as an annuity.  An income draw down on the other hand is where a retiree transfers the fund to an investment fund where they continue to earn a return from the fund as they draw down amounts to continue sustaining their livelihoods. The choice between these two will be the preference and investment profile of the member. The fund size is also a determining factor whereby large amounts preferably from 5 million can be considered in an income draw down arrangement. While an income draw down offers a lot of flexibility to the advantage of the member in terms of payment frequency and amount payable it also transfers the investment risk to the member which is an important factor to consider at selection point. In good years where the market performance is good, members may end up utilizing the return as draw downs for their retirement income. On the other hand, bad years may result to low income return. The investment strategy for most income draw downs are conservative offers a minimum guarantee return that ensures the principle is always protected. This will ensure that the retiree has minimised risk exposure in their investment option at retirement.

An annuity is also a permissible retirement options often ideal for individuals with a low-risk appetite and often, though not necessarily, with funds below 5 million. This option guarantees a pay-out of a predetermined amount despite market performance. This option may not give as much flexibility on amount and time for payment however it guarantees a payment for life to the member.

Based on the above, it is advisable to ensure the risk exposure to especially old age poverty is reduced and liquidity is guaranteed to the member in retirement. It is therefore advisable to consider an annuity or income draw down arrangement that will guarantee the above in comparison to starting a business in old age with retirement benefits.

Retiring members should consult widely before they make this decision. It is one of the biggest decisions they would make in the phase of their life.

By Chrisensia Ododa, Retirement Coach and Senior Advisor, Umbrella and Retails Solutions at Zamara

Prenuptial Agreement Article

Can I really ask my future wife to sign a prenup? I don’t want my second marriage to get off on the wrong footing, but I want to protect my children

Prenuptial agreements are voluntarily entered into by couples intending to get married setting out their respective rights in relation to assets in the event of a divorce. Prenuptial agreements (Prenups) are effective in protecting certain assets, whether acquired prior to or after marriage, from being subject to division between a couple upon their divorce.

Those couples considering marriage but do not wish for the asset distribution provisions of the Matrimonial Property Act of Kenya to apply to them may choose to voluntarily enter into a prenuptial agreement. This occurs before marriage and it outlines their respective rights in relation to how assets would be split upon their divorce. Under the Matrimonial Property Act, in addition to the matrimonial home, all assets jointly owned and acquired during a marriage are considered “matrimonial property” and therefore, in general terms, such assets are divided equally between the divorcing parties or in accordance with the share held by each party.

A spouse may also acquire a beneficial interest equal to their contribution for any asset acquired by one spouse, whether before or after marriage if the other spouse has contributed to the improvement of that property. A contribution could be monetary as well as non-monetary. For non-monetary contributions, it is up to the court to establish the value based on evidence.

To set a marriage on a good path, it is important for future spouses to have honest conversations about their intentions, outline the property owned by each party and the property rights available for each future spouse if the marriage ends. It would also be prudent before getting married to assure a party who might be at a financial disadvantage of what they would receive should the marriage end in divorce.

Working together towards entering into a prenuptial agreement transparently and fairly helps build trust and a feeling of security.

Courts have recognised prenuptial agreements as valid and binding on parties. Valid prenuptial agreements can effectively be used to protect the rights of certain individuals and vulnerable family members including children from previous marriages which can reduce conflict in the event of a divorce.

For example, a shareholder owning a business with his children from a previous marriage could exclude his shareholding from the assets his future wife could claim during a divorce. This would protect the interest of his children by ensuring that they continue to run and benefit from the business without any interference from their stepmother.

Another example where a prenuptial agreement could be useful is when a man would wish to protect key assets acquired from a previous marriage. This is usually for the benefit of his children from that marriage to ensure that these kinds of assets are not subject to division in the event of a divorce.

The examples above illustrate how effectively prenuptial agreements can be used to protect the interest of children from a previous marriage and to avoid any potential conflict in the event of a divorce.

The drafting of prenuptial agreements requires careful consideration, careful drafting, full disclosure and sound independent legal advice for each party involved, such that there is no possibility of an agreement being set aside on the grounds of intimidation, coercion, fraud, the terms being manifestly unjust or a party not having understood the consequences of entering into such an agreement. Parties must also clarify the purpose of prenuptial agreements to eliminate the feeling that one party could be dishonest.

By Mona Doshi, Partner mona.doshi@aln.africa and Provia Odhiambo, Principal Associate provia.odhiambo@aln.africa at Anjarwalla & Khanna (ALN Kenya)

Lowering Kenyan Government Bonds Coupon Rate


The President of Kenya made a recent announcement stating the Government would no longer borrow money at interest rates of more than 10%. He was alluding to the current high rates of Government bond issues, most recently a 14-year infrastructure bond at almost 14%.

We believe this announcement does not refer to a cap on interest rates, but instead a desired scenario that would be achieved through market forces. The simplest route for interest rates to fall would be the need for the Government to borrow less money to finance the fiscal deficit. The Government issues bonds to raise money for various reasons including:

  • Funding infrastructure projects
  • Funding regular bills, salaries
  • Paying costs of other borrowing

In order to reduce the need for borrowing through Government bond issues, one or more of the following needs to occur:

  • Reduced Government expenditure
  • Increased revenue from tax collections
  • Access to other cheaper forms of borrowing such as concessionary loans from entities like the International Monetary Fund

Even if the Government succeeds in reducing the need for borrowing, it is expected to take some time before we see interest rates drop to levels of 10%. The likelihood is that the rates would edge slowly downwards with each new issue.

Who owns Kenyan Government Bonds?

The largest investors in Government bonds are banks and pension funds. These institutions will be the most impacted by a significant change in interest rates.

Holder K Shs m %
Banks 1,710,357 48%
Non-Banking Financial Institutions 183 0%
Insurance companies 301,265 8%
Pensions Funds 1,224,108 34%
Others including individuals 333,179 9%
Total 3,569,092 100%


The positive effects of reduced rates

There are various angles to consider this from:

Higher motivation for banks to lend money. Currently Banks in Kenya own almost half of all the outstanding Government bonds. Investing in Kenyan bonds offers such attractive yields at very low risk. For a Bank in Kenya, it is easy to see how this is a much more attractive way to earn money instead of lending out to individuals or businesses that carry a higher risk and require more costly processes to manage. With interest rates falling, Banks will have an increased motivation to lend as they can maintain their return on equity. Thus, there would be an increased flow of money to individuals and businesses.

Lower borrowing costs for consumers and businesses. Existing loan payments on variable rates are likely to reduce. For businesses, this could mean more affordable financing for expansions.

Equity markets could be stimulated. With Government bond returns becoming less attractive and businesses being able to expand through lower financing costs, listed companies could become more attractive to investors. Increased interest from investors and positive sentiment could enable bull market conditions.

Private Equity and Alternative Investments could have more interest from investors. Few investments can compete with the risk-reward profile offered by Government bonds in the currently high interest rate environment. This has reduced demand for more risky investments in general; or where investments are made the premiums expected are very high and difficult to achieve.

Existing bond holders will see valuations of portfolios increase. Interest rates and bond valuations have an inverse relationship. If interest rates go down, investors holding existing bonds will see their portfolio values increase. We have seen the opposite effect this year.

The negative effects of reduced rates

The obvious negative impact would be that investors would earn lower returns on future bond investments. However, the process of getting to a low interest rate environment could have a more significant negative impact. If the Government reduces the fiscal deficit through reducing public expenditure or increasing taxes too aggressively, there could be a significant negative impact to economic activity, the job market and ultimately a lower GDP growth rate, depending on the quantum.

Having a lower interest rate environment would be positive for the economy, but a lot would depend on how we would get there. The new Government’s supplementary budget will shed some light on whether this aspiration could be a real possibility. In the meantime, however, there are still plans for the issuance of further bonds by the Government to raise up to Shs 40 billion before the end of the year in the current high interest rate environment.

By Neha Datta

Head, Asset Consulting Team at Zamara

Investment Choices

Question: I have Sh1 million currently. Should I invest it in bonds, keep in a Sacco or fixed deposit account? What do I gain or lose?   Response:   By George Oyuga and Lawrence Okumu   Thank you for this question. We are glad that you want to put your money to work for you. Having your money work for you is the best achievement ever. They say the best employee you can ever have is money. This employee neither asks for leave or off days, nor demands any employee benefits as part of their remuneration.   Before we attempt to answer your question, allow me to do a pulse check on you first. A direct answer to your question will require a more in-depth approach to the investments subject with the sole objective of tailoring something that is very specific to your current and future needs. To achieve this, it is important that you seek the services of a financial advisor or a qualified investments professional. For matters investment, one cannot have a one size-fits-all response as there are many other factors (mostly about  the investor, and the prevailing market conditions among others) that need to be put into perspective.   You seem to be eager to place yourself on the path towards wealth generation. This is a good thing especially in this era where many people are getting drawn into the pressures of today’s high consumption patterns. Delayed gratification is becoming a thing of the past and hence the ability to save will soon be admired like a divine gift. The high consumption culture has pushed many into debt with more people adding to the number of those living beyond their means. Thanks to pressure from social media platforms.   There is no wealth conversation without investments, and there is no investment conversation without savings. There is also no savings conversation without earnings. You have said you have a million shillings. You have however not revealed how this has been accumulated. I do not want to imagine that you have borrowed to invest as that would be a bad idea. I will assume that these are your accumulated savings and hence congratulate you for this achievement. It is no mean fit to get your savings to that level amidst todays financial pressures. I am also assuming that you are not in the category that considers one million as pocket change. There would be a very minute number of your kind in Kenya. Recent statistics confirm that only about 79,909 people earn over Shs 100,000 monthly in Kenya. The other things I am glad about is the fact that none of your enquiries points to an expenditure or the urgent need to satisfy a basic need. I am therefore assuming that your basic needs and other financial obligations are somehow taken care of and that you are currently on a well-balanced financial see-saw.   In general, before one considers pursuing an investment, there are a few things that a good financial education program usually emphasises. There are like the three stones that you would find in a typical African traditional kitchen. The first stone is the Investment objective, the second stone is the investment horizon and the thirds stone is your risk tolerance. These three factors will always require a delicate balance just as you would expect of the three cooking stones in the traditional African kitchen. A small tilt and the stones will bring down the pot and spill the entire meal.   Investment Objective   This refers to what you really want out of the investment where you seek to put your money. People invest in various financial assets with varied objectives. Some pursue capital appreciation while others pursue cash flows. What would you be looking for in a bond? Is it the opportunity that the price of the bond may go up or is it the periodic coupon payments that are your main attraction? Would you be interested in putting your money in the sacco purely for the dividends at the end of the financial year or would you be interested in accumulating a deposit that you may want to borrow against at some point in the future? Would you be considering a fixed or a term deposit because of the interest you will earn for the period the money will be invested with the financial institution?A qualified financial advisor or Investment professional will help you align your objectives with your choice investment.   Time Horizon   This is the second factor that you also need to consider. This is the amount of time that you will be willing to wait for your investment to mature or reach a time when it is safe and beneficial to withdraw. Various financial securities differ in the required time horizon that an investor. Some investments can be categorized as short term, medium term or long term. In your case with bonds, you will discover that they have different maturity profiles and hence may feature across all the three time-horizons. This second factor is therefore closely aligned to the object of your investment. An individual who simply invests in bonds for the coupon payments will therefore not mind holding a long-term bond to maturity. How long will you be willing to wait before you call back or withdraw your money? Are you in the short term, medium term or long-term category? A qualified financial advisor or Investment professional will help you align your investment choice to your future financial needs as your specific time horizon will demand.   Risk Tolerance   The third factor that you need to consider and which is specific to you is your risk appetite. Whenever you see a return being promised, there is always a risk being onboarded. The higher the return, the higher the risk. Financial securities have varying risk profiles. Therefore before you consider investing in any of the proposed financial securities, you need to assess your risk appetite and check whether it aligns to that investment decision. While at it, you need to be aware of how economic factors impact each other and how these raises or lowers your risk environment. Since you mentioned investing in bonds, a good example would be to consider how interest rates affect your bond valuations. If you consider investing in bonds for capital appreciation, then you will need to be cognisant of the fact that when interest rates rise, the value of bonds go down. These may sound complex, but a good financial advisor or investment professional will help you align your risk tolerance to your investment decision. Since risk cannot be eliminated completely, you may find them recommending a diversified portfolio that will see your money being spread across various options and in varied portions.   All the best with your investment.   By George Oyuga and Lawrence Okumu   George is a financial literacy trainer and General Manager, Umbrella and Retail Retirement Solutions, and Lawrence a Retirement Benefits Consultant and Manager Consulting & Advisory Division, Zamara.

Loss of Employment

Question: I lost my employment and now relying on my wife to foot the bills. She injected a lot money into a farming business that collapsed due to the pandemic. How do I get myself out of this muddle? Is it wise for her to take a loan to help me start another business?


Loss of Employment   Thank you for writing to us and sharing your current financial dilemma. Sorry about your job loss. Losing one’s employment during these tough economic times must be very hard on you. We can only imagine how tough things must have been in the recent past. You have not given us details of why you lost your job. A job loss may be caused by reasons that are about you or otherwise. One can also lose their job for reasons that are far beyond their control. A good example may be as a result of the effects of Covid 19. The impact of Covid 19 has been felt across the world over. No economy was spared, whether developed or otherwise. To try and manage operational expenses, some employers opted to retrench part of their staff. Other entities had no option but to close-down completely. You may have lost your job through such corporate decisions. We just hope that your loss of employment was not related to you voluntarily quitting your job to simply start a business. There are very many things that one must ensure to put in place before such a move. We feel urged to probe this further because you have mentioned a farming business that collapsed and further, your dilemma of whether your wife should take a loan to help you start another business. Nevertheless, before we do a deep dive into this, allow us to take a moment to first appreciate your wife.

A supporting Spouse   You have mentioned that you are currently relying on your wife to foot the bills. You have also mentioned that she has in the recent past injected a lot of money into that farming business that collapsed due to the pandemic. Your dilemma also points to the fact that she would still be willing to take another loan to help you start another business should this be your next preferred course of action. Man, you are blessed!

Having a supporting spouse in this era and age is indeed a blessing. There is a strong indication that losing your employment has not severed your marital connection. The support you have received from your wife this far is rare in many households. She surely is not the type that subscribes to the famous adage of “My money is mine, but your money is ours”.

We are living in tough times and many marriages rarely survive what you have gone through. If there is a way you can thank her, please go ahead and do so. Let her know that you truly value her support.

Diversified income channels for a household   The financial dilemma that you are going through points to the importance of having diversified income sources as a household. You have managed to weather the storm this far because both you and your wife had separate sources of income. You can imagine what the scenario would have been if you were the sole breadwinner and then you unfortunately lost your employment.

We would want to urge all readers to give this recommendation some serious thought, especially those who are in households where only one spouse is working. It is recommended that the other spouse tries his or her hand in some income generating activity to try and diversify the household’s income sources. Job scarcity is real and so is unemployment; but this does not mean that there is no work that can pay. However little the income may be, the amount is still worth the earning. An open mind will soon explore bigger and better opportunities, and with time something better will eventually come your way. Rome was not built in a day; every successful businessperson has a story that relates to a humble beginning. It is better to keep trying and fail at something than to succeed at nothing. Failure today still leaves a residue of rich lessons learnt and soon you will be wiser for your next opportunity. You will still be better off than if you never tried anything at all.

Emergency Fund   The next thing that we would want to emphasize for those who currently have stable sources of income is to work hard to build an emergency fund. One may ask how much is required to set up an adequate emergency fund. It is recommended by some experts that a good emergency fund should be at least six times one’s net income. This sounds adequate because it points to the fact that should something drastic happen, you will be able to continue with your life normally and still meet your financial obligations for the next six months as you think of your next step.

There is no mention of an emergency fund in your case. Having an emergency fund would have given some relief to the financial strain that you are currently experiencing as a couple.

Starting a business? Use savings or Loan?   Whereas we commend you and your spouse for the bold move of starting a business, we regret to note that your farming business initiative collapsed during the pandemic. There may be need to have a sit- down with a qualified financial expert to review all aspects of why exactly the business failed. Lessons from that failed business should not be allowed to go to waste. A careful examination of the cashflows, your go-to-market strategies and all aspects of how you managed your operations may give you great insights that can be useful for your next business attempt.

Financial experts have always strongly discouraged the idea of taking a loan to start a business. It is recommended that the seed capital one uses to start a business be sourced either from personal savings, or from other family financial assistances but never through a loan. Going by available statistics, there are over 60% of new business start-up failures due to varied reasons. This means that it is safer to start a business with your own funds than with a loan.

Build a Savings Pot   You have not mentioned any available savings either accumulated by yourself or by your wife. I would recommend that you consider building a savings pot first before you can start another business.  Should this next business also fail, the pain of losing your own money is less compared to losing money borrowed from a loan.  For ideas of where and how to save, please do not hesitate to seek the good advice of a qualified finance or investment professional.

All the best with your next move!

George Oyuga

George is a financial literacy trainer and General Manager, Umbrella and Retail Retirement Solutions at Zamara, he can be reached via goyuga@zamara.co.ke