That Sunday morning, I was really excited about this one interview I was going to hold. Well, I was going to meet a phenomenal young man whose achievements are nothing but inspirational. I also had a small tinge of nervousness, but the good kind. After all, I was going to learn a lot about a topic that I wasn’t quite familiar with…. forex trading, which is basically the buying and selling of currencies.
I have known Augustine Kiama for some time now ; mainly through activities either related to the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz or various social events. It was not until a recent conversation I had with him, where I got to learn that there was much, much more to the ever-friendly and joyful Kiama. Kiama is the CEO of SIFT (Sava Institute of Forex Trading), a company that specializes in “educating, mentoring and coaching junior traders to become professionals in the world of currency trading.”
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Kiama is an economics student at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany. With only about two semesters left to finish his studies, he has managed to go against all odds, set up his own company, and has even written an e-book. Born and raised in Eldoret, Kenya, it was his dream as a young boy to study abroad. After an initial visit to Germany, Kiama was sure that this was the place he wanted to realize his love for the world of business and finance. So, he made the first steps towards archiving his dream and enrolled in a University in Germany. His interest in Germany started way back while he was still in high school, where he had already started learning the German language.
Back in 2016, faced with the very familiar financial challenges of many foreign students in Germany, Kiama was eager to find a creative way to generate some extra funds to support his studies. What better way to do that than through the internet? So, he started off with something called ‘Domain Flipping’, which is the process of purchasing a domain name with the intent of selling it to third parties. Kiama would create domains and later sell them to companies that planned to start their own websites. Then he later moved to something called ‘Stock Photography.’ “I would take professional pictures, create a photo gallery and sell them to companies which were interested in having such pictures on their magazines or brochures.”
In this very same year, Kiama also wrote an e-book on Amazon, ‘Happy But Not Perfect’.
“ I wanted to show the millennials that happiness can come from basic things such as family and friends, and not necessarily from material things,” said Kiama. Kiama has learned that even the little things in life are much more valuable than what we perceive them to be. He sold 180 copies so far!
“Happiness being an essential part of lives and a necessity for our well-being, is something that a vast majority of us seek but in most cases don’t achieve. Many of us strive for perfection with the perception that life should be in a certain way for us and that way we would be happy. More often we fail to understand that being happy is something temporal in our lives because it is a state of mind and we have the power within us to control our happiness. In the book I talk about 9 steps through which happiness can easily be achieved with some of the steps having real life examples,” writes Kiama in the book description.
Link to the e-book:
It was not until Kiama took part in an internship at an investment bank in Frankfurt city, where he got a taste of the world of the forex market, that he gained interest in the forex trading. That is how he started to acquire the knowledge of how the buying and selling of stocks work.
Just like many successful journeys, Kiama was faced with challenges. He wanted to venture into the world of forex trading but got caught up with what he described as ‘Shiny Object Syndrome’. Kiama fell victim to one of the many ‘get- rich- quick’ schemes on the internet. An online advertisement got his attention, which promised to have the answer to making around $300 dollars a day. Who wouldn’t want that!
“Forex Trading has a lot of scam artists,” Kiama noted. “It operates in a grey area and is difficult to control.”
Convinced by the advertisement and with inadequate experience, and no risk management plan in place, Kiama opened a forex account, and started trading. After all, he was promised to make a lot of money in a short period of time. But, later he learned that nothing comes easy and that the business he was venturing into was far much complex than he had thought. “I blew up a lot of my money….it was bad.”
This unfortunate turn of events forced Kiama to take a break from all that. Who wouldn’t. Many people, faced with such a disappointment, would not have the courage to continue with this endeavour …. but not Kiama. Despite his huge losses, he wasn’t ready to give up. After about two months, he was ready to try again, but this time, the right way.
Kiama sought professional mentoring and coaching, where he gained the knowledge he now uses to train others. He invested a lot of time, money and energy on mentorship, books and courses. He simply did not want to take any chances in making the same mistakes again. Remember, all this time he is still studying, which was not a walk in the park. Regardless of whether one is a native speaker of the German language or not, anyone can tell you that it is a challenging journey to study here. It takes a lot of self-discipline and hard work. “I had to make a lot of sacrifices,” he said. But he wanted this so bad and pulled through anyway. On top of this pressure, Kiama had to find side jobs to finance his investment in the project. “I put a lot of money in it.” He came up with an accountability system where he would make a checklist of the important things he wanted to have done. At the end of every week, he would go through his list to see what he had managed. Kiama also managed to take one semester off from his studies to help him give his project the due diligence it required and is now set to archive his dream of completing his bachelor’s degree in economics. After eighteen months of intense training, Kiama was now ready to start as a professional trader in the currency market. This caught the attention of several people, especially his friends. He kept getting asked on what and how he was doing the business. “I got many requests to show others what I was doing.”
Kiama was always ready to share his newly found professional knowledge. That is how he got the idea of starting a company that would help train those who wanted to venture into forex trading. He didn’t want anyone to make the mistake he did. And Sava Institute of Forex Trading (SIFT) was born. A graduate from Strathmore University in Kenya, who is also into the business of forex trading, proved to be of great help to Kiama when starting his project.
Kiama’s advice to young people trying to archive their goals in life; Don’t lose focus on your end game. He referred to the fact that his main motivation to come to Germany was to study economics. Although he has managed to create various projects, and even a company that generates income, he never sidelined his studies. His end game is to study and that is what he intends to finish and pull through. He is not ready to get distracted from his end game by his company. “Its not a bed of roses to come abroad, but it pays off in the end if you stick to what brought you here.”
“Process Over Outcome”, that is the core value of SIFT. Many people are obsessed with achieving results, without actually putting thought in the process of achieving it, hence they fall into what Kiama already termed as the ‘Shiny Object Syndrome’.
This actually reminded me of my annual new year’s resolution to get into more body fitness. I usually have a clear picture of the end result, overlooking the discipline, the will and the intense process I will have to go through to achieve it. I didn’t tell Kiama this during the interview, but I made a silent promise to myself to learn from his company’s core value, and actually start working on the processes of the goals I have set. Not just concentrate on what I want them to be.
He may not know this, but Kiama’s story motivated and inspired me in many ways. Life will always have obstacles, but if you are set to work hard and persevere through the process, you will actually see the fruits.
I most definitely wish Kiama lots of success in his amazing journey, and that he continues to help and inspire knowledge, development and even the creation of jobs across different societies!
I am truly honored to have gotten the chance to share in his journey!!
CEO of SIFT
Philly Yambo Makora