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Teaching families to keep their wealth



ROMA – TAKATSO Kumi, one of the leaders of the National University of Lesotho (NUL) Innovation Hub, has a business that coaches families to hold on to their money or wealth.

He has already coached more than 15 families and his work is gaining steam.

In a fascinating interview, he said “my research revealed that families in Lesotho aren’t learning how to hold on to their wealth and how to pass that wealth to next generations within the family”.

When you sit down with Kumi, a member of the committee that runs the NUL Innovation Hub, you come away with an impression that, well, here is one in two million.

He thinks differently. He does not promise quick fixes to family problems.

Rather, he is devising slow, painful ways to help build families and their wealth in a project that will last generations.

“Family wealth is not just money but a sum total of human, intellectual, financial and environmental capitals. Effective management of these builds strong families,” Kumi said.

As a student of mathematics and physics at the NUL, he had more than a normal interest in figuring out why Lesotho did not seem to pull itself out of poverty.

He interviewed tens of people and penned a famous book, “The Unstoppable Youngsters.”

In it, he explores his interactions with a number of thought leaders across the country.

“They had one thing in common,” he described them.

“They had faith that our youth had a huge potential. They just couldn’t figure out what exactly was holding them back.”

He set out to seek an answer. First he landed in the field of motivational speaking.

“Maybe,” he thought, “people just lacked motivation.”

But he found the approach too simplistic, too theoretical.

“Yes, as a motivational speaker myself, I might be generating my wealth but what about those whom I am motivating?” he asked, “I didn’t see evidence that their lives were changing.”

He had to dig deeper.

“I came across a friend who introduced me to something different—coaching.”

“In coaching,” he said, “you don’t tell people they can succeed by making plans – you plan and walk the path with them.”

His friend told him that coaching is different in that you have to coach your clients in their terms, not your terms, so you need to understand them first.

Immediately, he realised what he really wanted was not teaching people how to make money or wealth but how to hold on to it once it is in.

Even if little, we all already have something anyway, that’s key.

It was at this turning point that he immersed himself into the idea of family coaching. Clearly, family is the smallest unit of a society.

So if he could build families, he could build societies. As he delved deeper, he noted that families were (1) fragmented and (2) could not hold on to their wealth.

An average family, he observed, is quick to spend all that it receives. He observed that wealth-wise, society is structured in the form of a pyramid.

Those at the bottom are many and those at the top are few.

At the bottom, we have those employed by others, then the self-employed above them, then, the business owners, then the investors and then the financiers at the top (banks, insurers, etc).

The closer you are to the bottom, the more inclined you are to pass the money as soon as you receive it. The closer you are to the top, the more likely you are to keep money or wealth.

“In fact those at the top, the financiers, do not only hold on to wealth, they want it back with interest, every time it goes away from them.”

After learning more about and practising the “secrets” employed by those at the top, he was well armed.

“I set out to coach families on those secrets.”

In simple terms, if you are a family, do a few things to keep wealth.

(1) The Financing Game: ensure the money circulates within the family by saving together as a family, by making sure that if money gets out of your savings, it comes back with interest, and by making sure that you invest in family businesses so you can pass the wealth to future generations.

(2) Debt Management: ensure, among other things, that you don’t get bogged down in long-term debt.

The shorter the term of repayment, the less wealth you will lose.

In fact, if families were to create long-term family savings, external debts would not be necessary.

But how do you achieve that in today’s fragmented families?

“We have made lack of family unity our motto,” he said.

“Today’s family members take pride in having nothing in common (a shared economy/wealth) with family members beyond, “this is my brother”, “this is my uncle”, “rea kutelana”.”

“So I also ask those I coach, “if you start a company, you are required to have a company vision, mission and values, but where are the family visions, missions and values?””

“Where is a family constitution to run a family on legal footing, where is the succession plan on how the family wealth will move from one generation to another?”

Although not written down, he says, shared family wealth has always been the way of our forefathers. He then coaches them on creating all these things.

Own Correspondent

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