Navigating Debt

I once met a guy who is a debt collector. In my whole finance career including the early days of leading Africa’s Pocket, I hadn’t met a debt collector before. So it was ironic that I met him at a little girl’s birthday party, and I couldn’t help but chuckle when he made this revelation while sitting in a tent full of pink balloons and bows.

Later, when we were cutting the cake and he was clapping, dancing and singing ‘happy birthday’, I marveled at how happy he looked especially considering what he saw in his profession every day. It was crazy to think that just a few hours earlier, this same man had told us the story of how he repossessed a baby – accidentally of course.

Let me take you back to the beginning… Amidst a group of lawyers, doctors and finance people, there’s no way someone could casually mention that they are a debt collector and not have to tell their story. My new friend, let’s call him The Godfather, had to spill the tea on how, when and why. What stood out to me though was the situation he calls ‘the worst day in his career.’

The Godfather runs a company that provides repossession services to banks, saccos, microfinance institutions and other private parties. When we default on our loans, the lender calls him, he gathers his goons and they come to your place of residence or work and take your stuff. He’s done this for years, but he says one day, things got really bad.

The Godfather and his goons showed up at a residential house in the suburbs of Nairobi at 4am - they like to work under the guise of darkness to avoid being identified. After many years in the business, they have perfected the drill.

They knock (or slam) on the door, sweep each room and take everything they can. As you can imagine, the process is chaotic.

On this day, the husband was bewildered, but not really shocked, the wife was in tears, wailing in her nightgown and head wrap. The children were scared, holding on to their mum’s legs, seeking refuge in this mayhem. But the goons kept doing their thing. They are immune to the tears, anger, confusion and threats that come with this process.

Then, the wife’s confusion turned into panic and she climbed into the truck screaming “My baby! My baby! My baby!!!” She was throwing things off the truck, as though she was looking for something specific. The goons following protocol simply lifted her back onto her compound and started driving away. She was determined – she kept running after the truck, screaming and wailing.

Something told the Godfather to take a second look, he sensed that she wasn’t running after something material. They stopped and after sometime, they finally understood that her baby was missing and she thought that he must be in the truck. The Godfather and his men looked among sofas, tables, pots, pans and everything in between. Imagine everyone’s surprise, relief… shame, when they found the baby wrapped in one of the mattresses near the bottom of the truck. Thankfully, the baby was okay – but I want to focus on what brought us here in the first place – debt.

How did he get here?

For a long time since hearing that story I’ve asked myself what could have gone so wrong for that man to find himself in this situation.

Maybe he started by taking a student loan. Maybe that was the only way for him to get a good education… Maybe he was diligent and paid it off every month as soon as he got a job. But it seems to never end and every month when he looked at the balance, it seemed to stay the same, so he stopped paying.

Or he started a business and took a loan so he could fulfil his orders. He did the math and it all looked like it would work out. But down the line, he realized some tiny clause in his contract now meant he’d be paying off the loan for years or risk losing his car which he needs for his business or worse, his personal possessions.

Maybe he borrowed money from a friend promising to pay them back but it just wasn’t enough. Maybe he had a job – making good money, but somehow he spent it all… on those loans, the house, the kids…

Whatever the case, what we do know is that things got really bad… so bad that his baby was rolled up on a mattress in the back of a truck with the rest of his possessions, as his entire family and his neighbours watched.

Now, this is an extreme situation, but isn’t this why we are afraid of debt?

I’ve heard stories about people’s cars and houses being repossessed.

I’ve heard stories of people’s phones ringing off the hook because some lending company is calling them non-stop.

I’ve heard about people who are lying to their families until one fateful day, everything comes tumbling down.

I’ve grown up hearing these stories and so of course, I was also afraid of debt. I was taught that:

  • Debt is for irresponsible, extravagant people - it shows that you are irresponsible and living beyond your means. Whenever I’d hear about people in debt, I think of a greedy, big-bellied politician.

  • Debt will ruin your life – the image of a car being towed away shows up in so many movies, it almost feels like I’ve witnessed it myself.

  • Being in debt is shameful – my parents, aunties and co-workers have spoken with disdain about people who are in debt. “Look at John, he walks around like he’s all that, but he’s knee deep in debt!”

Navigating Debt

Is this the politician or John?

I imagined that once you are in it, there is no relief. That being in debt feels like a prison or an endless maze you are stuck in.

Now, don’t get me wrong there’s definitely cases of being in debt that are outright stressful and unnecessary. For a long time I couldn’t imagine being in debt. I stayed far far away from credit cards and never ever considered taking a loan to buy a car or even a piece of land (aka ‘an investment’).

But, I’ve now come to see the immense opportunities debt can offer you if you use it right.

The flipside of debt is that it can open up many possibilities. Debt is what allows countries to develop and companies to grow. For you and I, it means being able to access higher education, buy a home or even to invest more. The trick is in understanding how to use debt well for your needs.

My Perspective Changed...

I got into Oxford’s MBA program, one of the world’s highest ranked MBA programs and for the first time in my life, I had to seriously consider taking a loan. The alternative was giving up this achievement that I had worked on for over a year; studying for the GMAT in my car during breaks at work, taking my practice tests to BBQs so I could sneak in some studying, taking the GMAT more times than I’d like to admit, writing and rewriting essays, chasing recommendations…. Was I really going to give this up because I didn’t have $100,000 saved up? Is that what it really takes to invest in myself? Is that what everyone who has an MBA really does? Everyone who buys a house? Or makes large investments?

I had gotten way too far for lack of funds to stop me. I started seriously considering my options, talking to other people who had taken loans to fund their education, others who had taken loans for other reasons.

I got into advanced research mode – I was asking what types of loans exist out there, how I could take one without collateral, what different interest rates mean, what the impact of taking a loan in a different currency was. I talked to alumni, people who give loans, business owners and advisors. The best insights came from people who had taken loans themselves, because they could share real stories of what went wrong or how they paid off loans quickly. They shared useful, practical strategies and were specific about what to look out for.

Thankfully, I already understood the principles of using debt to invest from a business perspective, I just had to apply them to myself and to look at my degree as an investment. So I took the loan, confidently armed with a plan that would make sure I maximize my Return On Investment (ROI) and could comfortably pay off my debt without it significantly affecting my lifestyle. I stayed away from lenders with tricky loan terms and worked with financial partners I could negotiate with.

For me this meant:

  • I shopped around so I knew what my options were. I stayed away from lenders with tricky loan terms, so I was confident that I’d end up with a fair contract.

  • I worked with financial partners I could negotiate with - at work, we would negotiate with lenders all the time, but I thought this was because we were borrowing large amounts. My research not only showed me that I could negotiate, but I was also armed with specific tactics of what and how to negotiate.

  • I made a plan to pay off my loan quickly without drastically changing my lifestyle. This meant thinking about how much to borrow AND paying off my debt in half the time, so that I could make sure I saved on the overall interest I paid for my loan.

Navigating Debt

I made it, eventually!

So far, I’ve stuck to my plan for two years and will be able to pay my loan off in another two years (8 years shorter than the term of the loan). I will save thousands of dollars in interest and of course give myself wiggle room to take other types of debt for my other financial goals like making investments.

For me, it was important that I was able to pay this debt off comfortably while still achieving my other financial goals. After all, I took this debt to improve my life, not to be in shackles.

Moses, my cofounder (and your instructor) and I never started Africa’s Pocket with the intention to talk about debt, but we hear about it too much to keep this knowledge to ourselves. So we started to refine these concepts to apply to all types of debt, not just student loans.

We applied our work experience, personal experience and research for over a year to make sure our insights were broad enough to apply to mortgages, business loans and other life-improving situations.

Your Instructor for the course:

Navigating Debt

Our experience:

Navigating Debt

We wanted to get REALLY practical, so we took our time to make sure we’d refined the concept beyond our own situations. The result is an easy-to-understand, practical online course to teach you how to get out of bad debt and use debt well to build your wealth.

Welcome to

Navigating Debt

We want to take you through the principles of debt so you can navigate it like a pro. We’ll explore differentiating good debt from bad debt, so you don’t end up in an endless maze. We’ll go through the principles of debt repayment so you can confidently take debt and make plans to pay it off efficiently. We’ll understand the different terms of debt that can help you save thousands of dollars in interest for the same amount, interest rate and tenor (time period) of loans.

Our course, Navigating Debt will teach you what Master Money Managers know about leveraging, paying off debt efficiently and the possibilities that debt can open up for you.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

Navigating Debt

Break down of how you will Navigate Debt.

01WEEK
  • Understanding Debt: You’ll have a grasp on what constitutes debt and the different ways in which it works.

  • Evaluating Debt: We’ll explore good debt and bad debt. We’ll understand the difference and how to evaluate debt to make sure it’s good for you.

02WEEK
  • Discovering Interest: We’ll define one of the most important concepts in debt management, APR. We’ll dig into why the interest rate matters, and how you can get lower interest rates.

  • Actual cost of small loans: We’ll understand how to calculate the true cost of a loan, especially when you are taking it for less than one yet.

03WEEK
  • Types of loans: We explore some consumer loans e.g. mobile loans, payday loans and log-book loans to understand how to use them and how NOT to use them to grow your wealth.

  • Taking multiple loans: We deep dive into how to weigh your options when you already have debt and are considering taking some more.

04WEEK
  • Debt repayment strategy: Get practical and figure out which debts to pay first and how to go about paying them.

  • Saving on Interest: Tips & tricks to help you negotiate lower interest rates and better loan terms.

  • Building systems: We’ll create systems to avoid a relapse into bad debt and to encourage paying off debt faster.

  • Accelerating your debt repayment: We’ll identify additional sources of income to pay off debt as soon as possible.

05WEEK
  • Loan Terms: Deep dive into different types of loan terms can drastically change how much you pay in interest e.g. straight line vs reducing balance loans.

  • Building Wealth: Get a grasp for how to use debt to achieve financial success.

This course is not for everyone. It requires a certain level of risk appetite and a great evaluation process. You have to be willing to do the work to shop for the best deals, because the wrong ones will derail your progress. You need to have your personal finance basics sorted out, so you aren’t worried about paying your bills or having a comfortable retirement.

If you have mobile money or credit card debt, DO NOT take this course. Instead, use our free debt guide to pay that off first – that should be your priority.
If you believe all debt is bad and aren’t open to seeing a different light, this is not for you.
If you are looking for a get-rich-quick scheme or tips on how to ‘hack’ the debt game to get rich – you’re probably on the wrong website.
But if you want to figure out how to use debt to build you wealth, then this is for you.

Are you ready for Navigating Debt?

The first requirement of being able to take advantage of the principles here is taking care of your fundamentals. That means:

  • You have a sizeable emergency fund (6 months of bare minimum expenses) or have a plan to get there

  • You don’t have any bad debt that you can’t manage – that means you don’t have any debt you’ve taken for consumables like (cars, house appliances, mobile phones) and/or are struggling to pay these off

  • You are investing for your retirement through a tax-advantaged pension fund

Navigating Debt

The Most Common Question we get about Navigating Debt

“Is this the only way to figure out how to use debt to build my wealth? “

Of course NOT! You could DIY. You could spend hours talking to people who have taken debt, business owners and bankers. Then spend thousands of dollars qualifying and synthesizing the information you gather to develop real actionable insights. Or, you could leverage the work we’ve already done to share our knowledge with you.

“Who is this course NOT a good fit for?”

While we have built a course we’re truly proud of and many people have found useful, we recognise that our Navigating Debt course might not be a good fit for you if you:

  • If you have mobile money or credit card debt, DO NOT take this course. Instead, use our free debt guide to pay that off first – that should be your priority.

  • Value volume over quality - we focus on distilling knowledge and experience, to move you from “what are all the potential answers” to “which are the most important answers, which you can focus on”. There’s unlimited information available for you on, YouTube (including our channel), Reddit and other places. We’re here to give you a distilled, actionable version of that information

  • If you believe all debt is bad and aren’t open to seeing a different light, this is not for you. We believe that knowledge without action doesn’t add much value, and you’ll look back and be frustrated for having spent money on a resource you don’t use. We’d prefer to stay friends instead :-)

“How is this course different from other programs/books/courses on the market?”

Three key differences:

  • Simple, effective, actionable guides - actual step-by-step plans that you can follow to get the results you desire. Automate your finances. Prioritise spending on things that give you the most fulfilment. Invest wisely. The plan is yours for the taking

  • Level of expertise involved in creating the content: we’ve brought together some of the best insights globally to focus on giving you the tools that best position you to succeed. This wide range of deep expertise is hard to come by!

  • Tried and Tested - We’ve gone ahead and tried multiple offerings in the market, and thus can help you understand how to sift out the good from the bad offerings. That way you can find the best services for each part of your financial requirements in your journey to save and invest.

“Why don’t you just tell me the exact debt to take or not take, instead of me having to take this course?”

The best debt management strategy for you is likely very different than the best strategy for the next person. For one of you the best solution might be to keep away from debt completely. For the next person, it could actually be taking mobile loans to fund their business on a day-to-day basis. Our goal is to equip you to take control of your debt management strategy and build the life you want.


"Does this work for all income levels?"

Yes! As long as you have an emergency fund and aren’t drowning in bad debt. The principles, strategies and tactics you need to consider in order to make sound decisions on debt management are universal. That said, your income level does have an impact - higher income simply means a more capacity to invest today. The most important thing is to get started and follow the principles we’ve laid out.

"How much time does it take to do this course per week?"

We recommend spending at least 4 hours over the course of 1-2 weeks on this course for maximum benefit. That’s enough time to watch the videos and implement the action items for you to find the best fit for yourself.

"Is this course live?"

This is NOT a live presentation. It's an online video course that you can take at your own pace.

“How fast will I get results?”

Will you be as wealthy as Bill Gates within the next year? Extremely unlikely. But if you commit 3-4 hours per week for 2 weeks to watching and implementing these lessons, you will see amazing results. Most importantly, you’ll permanently improve the direction of your life, because of the impact of these benefits compounding on themselves over the years. This is true both in your finances and in your life, because you can invest in things that drive the most fulfilment for you and focus on creating the life you want.

“How does the course work? Do I have to go to a class/practice in a specific location and time?”

Navigating Debt is an online, self-paced video course. You’ll be able to learn and practice in the privacy of your own home, at your own pace. The supplementary materials, such as illustrative guides and financial models to plug in will help you along. If you do get stuck or have questions, you get access to contact the Africa’s Pocket team, and we will privately answer your questions 1-on-1.

“I’m really new to the world of finance and money. Will this work for me?”

Navigating Debt is built by taking the best insights and strategies in the market and distilling them so that anyone can understand them. We avoid using jargon (and translate things so you know what jargon-speaking people are saying). Regardless of your current comfort with money/numbers, you’ll be able to understand and keep up. We’ve also built plug-and-play tools for you and shown you how to understand the outputs of each. That way you’ll always have them ready and can hold your own when you’re discussing and evaluating investing in the future!

“What if I fall behind?”

Don't worry — the course comes with lifetime access so you can take a break from the material if you’ve travelled, are on holiday, or simply get swamped with work/life for a few days. Interruptions happen, we understand. Navigating Debt will ALWAYS be here for you when you're ready to dive back in.

What happens if you keep waiting and don’t take action?

At least two things will happen:

  1. You will pay more for Navigating Debt when we reopen the course.

    We launched Navigating Debt at a heavily discounted price, to build our sense for the market and show people why our products are world-class (and earn such great reviews!). When we reopen it, it will be available at several multiples of the current price.

  2. You will continue to lose out on the benefit of leverage and paying off debt efficiently.

    Imagine something you’d consider taking debt for, say a house. Try out our calculator below and see how much interest you’d pay over 10 years. Now, shave off one year. And another. And another. Now try reducing the interest rate by 1% and see how much you’d save. The fancy name for this is the “opportunity cost” of not making this decision. Remember, this is your money. That you’re losing. Simply by choosing to stay still instead of moving forward.

    Try out our calculator below and see how much you can grow your money over the next 5-10 years. And then shave off one year. And another. And another. The fancy name for this is the “opportunity cost” of not making this decision. Remember, this is your money. That you’re losing. Simply by choosing to stay still instead of moving forward.

    Loan Calculator

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Final thoughts - a quick peek of our material, and our product guarantee so you can rest assured that your investment is secure

This is from Module 1, Africa’s Pocket Smart Money basics. In this snapshot we’re explaining the difference between compound interest and simple interest - an important distinction as you structure your investments. The clip is also a lovely compliment to the compound interest calculations you just did as you figured out your opportunity cost from waiting to invest.

A quick peek inside the course - t

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