Interview with Michael Mbaya, Managing Partner and CEO of Mbaya & Associates
Could you give us a history 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 together and formed a business that they wanted outlived them. They succeeded because they are both retired now. We provide accounting services, payroll services, audit services and tax services. Then there are other ancillary services with which we also serve our clients, such as financial due diligence and information, financial reporting and, essentially, financial intelligence sharing.
What is the competitive advantage of Mbaya and Associates?
Our service to our customers is generally exemplary. We are very selective about the clients we choose. We ensure that they are progressive and ethical customers. Once they come on board, we serve them diligently and work together to ensure they are able to achieve their goals. But one of the reasons our customers keep coming back to us is the involvement of partners in their business. We are very close to our customers. We support them by making sure that we go through very difficult times with them. And in places where we do an independent audit and where we can’t be close to the customer, we try to provide financial information or just information, which allows a company to criticize themselves and in this way they now build a relationship about how they can improve from there.
What is your opinion of the services you offer vis-à-vis the business landscape in Kenya?
Kenya being a developing country, there are a lot of indigenous businesses that are coming of age, businesses that were started 10 or 20 years ago and are just starting to mature. As a developing country, we started from a very small base on this continent, but people are starting to adopt good ethical business practices. They’re starting to get a little more resilient in business operations and we’re copying and getting stuff from the West, from the East, learning from them and getting better at doing business. In terms of technology, Africa has made a great leap forward. We are now able to compete favorably with companies around the world. We’re starting to have local businesses, but with a global perspective, and we want to play in that space where we’re telling businesses in and around us that there’s a whole world out there waiting for us to go serve them, we have products that we think are competitive. We can go and do business around the world. And this is starting to resonate among many African businesses.
Do you plan to grow by trying to involve investors or anything like that?
In our business, know-how is generally local. So rather than trying to outdo ourselves, trying to be in places where we don’t know much about the legislation, we have partner companies in various countries across the continent. So if I need to do something in South Africa, I have partner companies in South Africa that we work with. If I need to do something in Accra, Lagos or Addis Ababa, we have partner companies there, people we meet regularly. People with whom our values and our work ethic align, and we are able to recommend to our customers or our partners that they can work with these people. We are thus able to deliver to our customers by providing them with local know-how in the materials that are important to them.
Could you give us some success stories since the creation 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’ve had two generations of families working with the company. We have people who have worked with the company since school until they got married, started a family and had children. We care deeply about the people who work with us and those who have worked with us before, and we honor the legacy of those who came before us. We strive to maintain our performance at a high level, in order to set the bar high for future members of staff who will come to join Mbaya and Associates. We work with our internal employees and take care of each other very abundantly. After that, we go to our customers and make sure they are taken care of. Once we have good relationships with people, we attach values to them and over time these intangibles take us to the next level.
What kind of industries do you work with? Who are your clients ?
Initially, when the company started, it was largely family businesses. It was really our bread and butter, small businesses growing, taking off. In Kenya we have a lot of what we call SACCOs, savings and loan societies, and they provide a lot of finance to a lot of small entrepreneurs in that part of the world. They also represent a large part of our clientele. We have international NGOs, and for a long time Kenya was in a turbulent place. South Sudan was a problem, there was a time when Ethiopia was a problem, but now it’s stable. Somalia still remains somewhat unstable. There were days when Uganda was unstable. So there were a lot of NGOs based in Kenya and those NGOs needed 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 field, and that’s where we have a sweet spot. On behalf of Kenya’s Auditor General, we audit the country’s Securities and Markets Authority. We have worked for the Nairobi Stock Exchange, the Nairobi Stock Exchange and the Association of Security Exchanges across Africa.
What would you have liked to achieve with Mbaya and Associate in the next three to five years?
The field of auditing is evolving and becoming more and more of an obsolete product. People want a lot more internal controls to allow their business to grow. There is a great need for taxation in various jurisdictions. We invest in our partnerships to ensure that the alliances are strong enough to support our clientele, eager to look outside, eager to go well beyond. So those are areas we want to put a bit more emphasis on. And then of course technology and the digital space is where the markets are these days. So how to help customers across the continent on a digital platform is where we are headed.
Can you say more about the technological side?
Technology has allowed us to be in several places at the same time. If you have a customer who produces a particular niche product and the product is needed in Lagos, Morocco and South Africa, they need to expand to serve those markets and they need to ensure that the products they use are secure, so even customers are sure that with the type of platform provided to them, their credit card details are safe, they will be able to make a payment, and whatever will be charged will be what has been announced. It is therefore essential to ensure that the ecosystem is secure from the comfort of the buyer, to the seller and to the logistics team who delivers the product to the customer. This whole ecosystem needs to be secure, and it’s the one that needs to make sure that you bring value to all parties. The African continent logistically has long been a challenge. Things are improving, but it’s still a challenge. For example, things may work very quickly in the digital space, but moving your track from country to country isn’t as easy as advertised, or it’s not as easy as shown in the books. . So there are interferences entering the system. These are some of the areas we look at to make sure our customers get what they pay for.
Isn’t that a bit outside of what you usually do?
There are the technicians working there, but often the technicians are more or less the engineers who work on the technological side, but on the financial side, you need accountants. You need people to review the mod,l to see if it works and if there are any leaks or problems in the system that will cause roadblocks or incur transaction costs that will force the buyer to pay more for the product. If I’m the seller, I get what I wanted for the price. And if I’m the buyer, what’s advertised is what I’m paying for. Then there will be logistics costs, which are generally higher on this continent. Now this is something that needs to be built into the pricing model so that there are no hidden fees or hidden surprises.
What is this service called?
This is called verification. You review the system audit and work on it with the IT people. So, we are not just looking at it from a financial perspective, but we are looking at the various risks that are available on the system and how we can mitigate those risks, so that it doesn’t end up being a painful process. This often works, but if you’ve ever ordered something online and you don’t get what you expected, it’s usually a painful process that deters many people from going online to shop. But the Internet is here to stay. Digital shopping is here to stay. The digital market is here for the long haul. And that’s the ecosystem that we need to look at and make sure it’s a safe place where we can all transact and expect value from it.
What is your inspiration and your philosophy of life? What motivates you ?
I love serving people and that’s what makes me happy. We hired a very young team to come and work for us, and we keep this ability to mentor these young people, to dream more, to see bigger, to try to see how by solving one problem at a time, they can develop their state of mind to think globally and be able to act in a way that brings out their aspirations. So for me, developing people and working with people is what gives me great joy. Seeing businesses thrive, seeing people able to provide for their families and support their communities through the businesses we help them create is what brings me great joy.
About Mbaya & Associates: The firm is a financial solutions center focused on providing auditing, accounting, bookkeeping, tax and financial advisory services that add value to clients, and a proud member of GMN International.
FAIR USE POLICY
This material (including multimedia content) may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. However, a direct link to the page (including the source, i.e. Marcopolis.net) is allowed and encouraged.