Interview with Michael Mbaya, Managing Partner and CEO at Mbaya & Associates
Could you give us a historical background of Mbaya and Associates?
Mbaya and Associates was formed in 1979 in Nairobi, Kenya, by two founding partners, Andrew Mbaya and Muhungi Kanyoro. They came up together and formed a firm which they wanted to out-live them. They were succesful as they are both retired now. We provide accounting services, payroll services, audit services and taxation services. Then there are other auxiliary services that we also serve our clients with, such as due diligences and financial information, financial reporting, and basically sharing of financial intelligence.
What is the competitive advantage of Mbaya and Associates?
Our service to our clients is usually exemplary. We are very selective on the clients that we choose. We make sure that they are progressive and ethical clients. Once they come on board, we serve them to a level of diligence and we work together in ensuring that they are able to meet their objectives. But one of the reasons why our clients come back to us is the partner involvement in their activities. We are very close to our clients. We handhold them making sure that we walk with them through very difficult times. And in places where we give independent audit and we cannot be close to the client, we try and provide financial insights or just intelligence, which allows a business to critique itself and in that way they now build a relationship on how they can get better from there.
What is your opinion on the services that you offer vis-à-vis the business landscape in Kenya?
Kenya being a developing country, there are a lot of indigenous companies that are getting to the point of maturation, companies that were started 10 years ago or 20 years ago that are now just starting to become mature. As a developing country, we started from a very low base on this continent, but the people are starting to pick up good ethical business practices. They are starting to become a little bit more resilient in business operations and we are copying and getting some stuff from the West, from the East, learning from them and getting better at doing business. In terms of technology, Africa has taken a big leap forward. We are now able to compete favorably against companies around the world. We are starting to get local companies, but with a global outlook, and we want to play in that space whereby we are telling companies in and around us, that there is a whole world out there waiting for us to go and serve them, we have products which we think are competitive. We can go do business across the world. And that is starting to resonate amongst many African businesses.
Do you have plans to expand by trying to involve investors or anything of that sort?
In our business, the know-how is usually local. So rather than try and stretch ourselves, trying to be in places where we do not know too much about the legislation there, we have partner firms in various countries across the continent. So if I need something done in South Africa, I have partner firms in South Africa whom we work with. If I need something done in Accra, Lagos or Addis Ababa, we have partner firms there, people we have met regularly. People whom our values and work ethics align with, and we are able to recommend our clients or our partners to be able to work with these people. So we are able to deliver to our clients by giving them local know-how in matters that are important to them.
Could you give us some success stories since the inception of Mbaya and Associates?
One thing that is very important to us is the people and there are several people who have worked for us. We have had two generations of families who have worked with the firm. We have people who have worked with the firm right from school to when they got married, started families and got children. We take a lot of interest in the people who work with us and those who have worked with us before, and we pay homage to the legacy of those who came before us. We make sure that we keep performing at a high level, so that we are setting the bar for the future members of staff who will come to join Mbaya and Associates. We work with our internal people and we care for each other very profusely. After that, we go to our clients and make sure that they are cared for. Once we have good relationships with people, we attach values to it and with time, those intangibles carry us to the next level.
What kind of industries do you operate with? Who are your clients?
Initially, when the firm started off, it was largely family owned businesses. That was really our bread and butter, small enterprises that were growing, that were taking off. In Kenya, we have a lot of what we call SACCOs, savings and credit societies, and they provide a lot of funding for many small entrepreneurs in this part of the world. They are also a big chunk of our clientele. We have international NGOs, and for a long time Kenya was in a place which was full of turmoil. South Sudan was a problem, there was a time Ethiopia was a problem, but it is now steady. Somali still remains a little bit unstable. There were days Uganda was unstable. So there were a lot of NGOs that were based off Kenya and those NGOs needed some formal financial services, and that was also a good sector. We have a lot of clients in the renewable energy sector and in the technology space, and that is where we have a sweet spot. On behalf of the Auditor General of Kenya, we audit the Capital Markets Authority of the country. We have worked for the Nairobi Stock Exchange, the Nairobi Securities Exchange and the Association of Security Exchanges across Africa.
What would you have loved to achieve with Mbaya and Associate in the next three to five years?
The audit field is changing and it is increasingly becoming an outdated product. People want a lot more around internal controls so that they can allow their companies to be able to scale up. There is a lot of need for taxation in various jurisdictions. We are investing in our partnerships to make sure alliances are strong enough to support our clientele, wishing to look outside, wishing to go far beyond. So those are areas where we want to put in a little bit more emphasis. And then of course, technology and the digital space is where the markets are these days. So how to assist clientele across the continent on a digital platform is the area we are moving to.
Can you expand more on the technology side?
Technology has enabled us to be in many places at the same time. If you have a client who is producing a niche particular product and the product is needed in Lagos, Morocco and South Afric, they have to expand to serve those markets and they have to make sure that the products they are using are secure, so that even the customers are sure that with the kind of platform they are provided, their credit card details are safe, they will be able to make a payment, and whatever is charged will be what was advertised. So just making sure that the ecosystem is secure right from the comfort of the purchaser, all the way to the seller, and all the way to the logistics team that delivers the product to the client is a must. That whole ecosystem needs to be secured and it is the one which needs to make sure that you are delivering value to all parties. The African continent logistically has been a challenge for a long time. Things are getting better, but it is still a challenge. For example, things can work very quickly on the digital space, but to move your track from one country to the next is not as simple as advertised, or it is not as simple as shown in the books. So there are interferences that come into the system. Those are some of the areas that we are looking into to make sure that our clients are getting value for their money.
Is that not a bit out of what you normally do?
There are the tech people who are working on it, but a lot of times the tech people are more or less the engineers who are working on the technology side of it, but on the financial side, you need accountants. You need people to look at the mode,l to see whether it is working and if there are any leakages or any problems in the system that will either bring hindrance or bring some transactional costs that will make the buyer pay more for the product. If I am the seller, I am getting what I wanted for the price. And if I am the buyer, what was advertised is what I am paying for. Then in between, there will be some logistical costs, which is usually higher on this continent. Now that is something that has to be built into the pricing model so that there are no hidden charges or no hidden surprises that come on.
How do you call this service?
It is called audit. You look at the system’s audit and work with it together with IT people. So we do not look at it from the financial perspective only, but we look at the various risks that are available on the system and how we can mitigate those risks, so that it does not end up being a painful process. Many times it works, but if you have ever ordered something online and did not get what you expected, that is usually a painful process which deters many people from going onto the internet to do their shopping. But the internet is here to stay. Digital shopping is here to stay. The digital marketplace is here for the long haul. And that is the ecosystem that we need to look at and make sure that it is a safe place where we can all transact and expect to get value from.
What is your inspiration and your philosophy in life? What drives you?
I like serving people and that’s what makes me happy. We hired a very young team to come work for us, and we keep that ability to mentor these young people, to dream more, to think bigger, to try and see how through solving one problem at a time, they can grow their mindsets to think globally, and be able to act in a manner that brings out their aspirations. So for me, developing people and working with people is what gives me a great joy. Getting to see businesses thriving, getting to see people able to provide for their families and support their communities from the businesses that we help them build is what gives me a lot of joy.
About Mbaya & Associates: The firm is a financial solutions centre geared towards providing auditing, accounting, bookkeeping, taxation and financial advisory services that adds value to clients, and a proud member of GMN International.
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Publish date : 2022-09-23 08:14:40