Kyanda’s Founder on Overcoming Challenges & Finding Success: Tips for Young Business Owners

From the time he was a young boy, Collins Kathuli had a dream, a bold vision fuelled by determination. Collins set out on a journey, driven by an unwavering belief in his abilities, and with each step forward, he carved a path towards his vision. Today, that dream has blossomed into Kyanda, a fintech company revolutionising money transfers without hefty fees. Collins’ journey began in primary school, ignited by a passion to achieve something remarkable. From his love for technology to the realisation of his dream, Collins learned and grew through trial and error. Little did he know, he was on the brink of becoming a young leader in the startup world. 

“If you have a solid plan and feel extremely confident, then by all means, go for it.” 

Collins Kathuli

Starting Young 

Young entrepreneurs are on the rise, with more 25–34-year-olds more likely to be involved in early-stage business activity than their older counterparts (BBC, n.d.). In Africa, where job opportunities are scarce, more young people are taking charge of their futures by starting their own ventures. The road, however, comes with its own set of challenges. From societal pressure to secure stable employment to the daunting quest for funding, hurdles abound. Collins knows this all too well, having lost important relationships along the way on his entrepreneurship journey. However, these challenges can be overcome with balance. 

As a young entrepreneur, Collins devoted himself entirely to his business, driven by a deep sense of responsibility for its success and expansion. Yet, his intense focus on ensuring the business’s prosperity came at a cost: he neglected spending time with his friends, leading to the loss of some friendships. Unfortunately, this scenario mirrors the experience of many entrepreneurs who become caught up in perpetual work mode, overlooking the importance of a life beyond business. It shows the crucial need for balance. Without it, chaos prevails.  

Finding Balance 

Finding balance between work and play, ambition and rest is essential for maintaining mental and physical well-being. When you neglect this balance, you risk experiencing burnout, decreased productivity, and diminished overall satisfaction with life. It’s crucial to prioritise activities that bring you joy and relaxation, as they help you recharge and maintain a healthy perspective on work and life. 

One way to find balance is by setting boundaries and creating dedicated time for both work and leisure activities. Establishing a routine that includes periods of focused work as well as breaks for relaxation can help maintain productivity while preventing exhaustion and overwhelm. Additionally, learning to say no to tasks or commitments that don’t align with your priorities can help you avoid overextending yourself and maintain a healthy work-life balance. 

Another important aspect of finding balance is cultivating self-awareness and listening to your body and mind. Pay attention to signs of stress or fatigue, and take proactive steps to address them, whether it’s through exercise, or simply taking a short break to rest and recharge. Prioritising self-care and making time for activities that nourish you physically, mentally, and emotionally is essential for maintaining balance. 

Collins and the Kyanda team

Furthermore, finding balance also involves nurturing relationships and connections with others. Spending quality time with friends and loved ones can provide much-needed support and perspective, helping you navigate challenges and celebrate successes together. Building a strong support network and fostering meaningful connections can contribute to your overall sense of well-being and fulfilment. 

Ultimately, finding balance is an ongoing process that requires self-reflection, intentionality, and a willingness to prioritise our well-being. By making conscious choices to incorporate activities that bring you joy and fulfilment, you can cultivate a greater sense of balance, resilience, and overall happiness. 

For Collins, he finds balance in the simple joys of life, such as music, to keep him going. As he would say, juggling and setting priorities became crucial. At times, the pressure felt overwhelming, and time management tools like Google Calendar helped him reorganise his schedule, leading to smoother operations. What are some things you enjoy doing? What helps you recharge and face each day with enthusiasm? Discover what brings you joy, whether it’s music, writing, dancing, or connecting with nature. 

Opportunities and Challenges 

Many opportunities often come laced with challenges; several entrepreneurs can attest to this, but these challenges are surmountable. As a young entrepreneur, you’re like a tightrope walker, balancing ambition, innovation, and tenacity. While Collins’ opportunity lay in his discovery of people’s need to access a cheaper way to move their funds around, the challenge lay in manoeuvring the regulatory space. Identify opportunities and face challenges strategically, just like Collins did with Kyanda. 

Many young African entrepreneurs encounter common hurdles like insufficient funding, doubts from clients due to perceived inexperience, lack of confidence, and difficulty assembling the right team. However, these challenges also present great opportunities for growth, innovation, and learning. Through overcoming funding limitations, you can become more resourceful and creative in finding solutions. Doubts from clients can be addressed by demonstrating competence and building trust over time, leading to stronger client relationships. Lack of confidence can be transformed into self-assurance through perseverance and gaining experience.  

Additionally, difficulty in assembling the right team encourages you, as an entrepreneur, to cultivate leadership skills and create a supportive and effective team environment. This is something that Collins has been excelling in, though it posed a challenge in the beginning. By finding like-minded people who were willing to see his vision through, Kyanda is what it is today. Challenges serve as catalysts for personal and professional development, ultimately leading to greater success in entrepreneurship. 

We asked Collins to share some invaluable advice, and this is what he had to say: “If you have a solid plan and feel extremely confident, then by all means, go for it. However, if you find yourself feeling uncertain and merely replicating what someone else has done, I would suggest focusing on building your own skills and confidence before attempting to emulate others.” 

With Collin’s words of wisdom in mind, here are some guiding principles to help you navigate the entrepreneurial journey with clarity as a young person: 

  • Delegate wisely. Don’t carry the burden alone. 
  • Celebrate small victories. Each step forward counts. 
  • Overcome self-doubt. Trust yourself and learn from setbacks. 
  • Find mentors. They can guide you on your journey. 
  • Secure funding creatively. Adapt to different options. 

Remember, entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint. Balance your work with life, embrace challenges as stepping stones toward your vision, and believe in yourself. Keep dreaming big, and success will follow those who persevere.