Sam Vidambu… His humility and his flawless Swahili are the first two things that will strike you when you first meet him. He could easily fit into the shoes of an ordinary Joe, were it not for his crisp suits that set him apart in the streets. He is an accountant by profession, the kind that doesn’t spend time telling you how smart they are because their work speaks for them. “I love to make lists and to describe, name, number and find value,” he says. But his love for matters numbers has a twin. As much as Sam loves to juggle figures and solve financial puzzles, he switched gears from professional accountancy to mentorship in 2013. Seven years down the road, he has no regrets for abandoning what most people would embrace as a dream career. So what made him take such a brave step? This is one of the questions we asked him at his offices situated at Shelter Afrique, Mamlaka Road, in Nairobi.
Tell us about yourself?
You already know my name (smiles). I am a transformational coach, motivational speaker, and mentor… formerly an accountant. I am the founder and chief executive officer at Ambigen Limited. I am also the President of Global Student Mentorship Program, a youth empowerment organization whose goal is to mentor one million youths in ten years.
How long were you employed before you quit?
I was employed for only 8 months. It’s crazy eeh..?! The job was located in Nairobi. I was earning an average of Sh. 65,000 per month. I was lucky. Not too many graduates at the time and even now got such a pay in their early working days.
Why did you quit so soon?
I was not really fulfilled. The salary was okay, but I was never happy. The 8 to 5 rat race is what I didn’t want. I wanted to get out and do what I felt I was brought to the world to do.
Mentorship. I was inspired by my passion. I have a great passion for the youth. I was born in poverty. I don’t like poverty, and I believe that nobody deserves to go through the kind of poverty I went through. Through mentorship, I help people get better personally, financially, academically and mentally.
How much did you start your mentorship venture with?
I did not start with any money. The little I had was from savings. When it comes to money though, I am a firm believer in the 40-40-20 financial rule. Save 40 per cent, Invest 40 per cent and spend 20 per cent.
Have you had any losses in this venture?
Yes, I have heard negative experiences like fake clients, but losses, not yet. I have not experienced financial losses. This doesn’t mean that they may never occur. Every successful business takes a hit at some point or another.
Do you have any regrets for choosing mentorship over accounting?
Honestly no. Mentorship is me. I was just born to mentor. I am a youth and startup mentor. I have never regretted, no matter what I go through. This is me. I can’t regret being me no matter the challenges.
What challenges do you have in entrepreneurial mentorship?
Marketing and getting clients is always a tough nut to crack. People must know you; customers must know you. How can I buy from you if I don’t know you? When I started, I countered these challenges through social media. Social media is an entrepreneur’s best partner when utilized in the right way. That is where you can crack the marketing jigsaw. At the same time, challenges are part and parcel of the entrepreneurship package. In fact, life without challenge would be dull.
What plans do you have up your sleeves now?
I am aiming to mentor over 300,000 Kenyan youths over the next two years.
That is an ambitious number?
Ambition is a possible dream if worked on. This target is in line with our organization’s goal of mentoring one million youths in ten years.
What is your parting shot?
We have so many jobless Kenyan youths who wake up every day to tarmac in search of jobs. What most of them don’t know is that the world is evolving fast and their thinking and approach towards the job market ought to evolve too. It is time for them to pause and start networking… and I don’t mean network marketing. They need to connect with like-minded people, and mentors who’ve walked the journey before. This is the era of who know you; not who knows you.