Beyond Thinking Big

Published on 19th February 2008

Tom Munga, Baobab Director

For Tom Munga and Musa Ibrahim, the need to start their own company required more than just thinking big. Translating their ideas into reality, the duo founded Baobab Capital, a capital markets investment firm based in Nairobi’s City House. was not easy but they had to do it. One year down the line, learning business together has molded them into more than just business partners. They are friends who have no regrets at all. Anthony Odeo of The African Executive caught up with the two and filed this story.


Anthony: What motivated you towards capital markets?


Ibrahim: It was a matter of proxy. When the thought of venturing into business came up, we were already working with other well-established companies in the capital market. Having been friends for a long time, it was much easier and convenient for us to consult on any matter including business. Coupled with our involvement in the KenGen IPO (that brought renewed interest in capital markets and drew many investors to the stock market for the first time in Kenya), we set up Baobab Capital, a place for people to learn as they invest in the stock market.

Anthony: Where did you get the Confidence for such a huge Challenge?

Ibrahim: Both Tom and I had more than five years experience in the capital markets. We effectively managed client accounts assigned to us by our employers, a fact that made us rise through ranks from junior sales executives to personal investments advisors Investing in stock markets gave us first hand experience on client service and the kind of information they needed.

Anthony: How did you start Baobab Capital?

Ibrahim: We used the money we had saved from our previous job. Two of our friends who believed in our idea also lent us money. The advice we got from experienced people like Eliud Maina in the start up process enabled Baobab capital to take off with vigour. The demand for our services was so enormous that before could set up an office, we already had clients.

Anthony: What challenges did you face then and now?

Ibrahim: Convincing new clients that a start up company like ours could execute quality service was not easy. However, we were not discouraged. We embarked on perfecting efficiency with the few clients we had. Our current challenge is to maintain high quality service to our growing clientele base while keeping attention to market trends.

 Anthony: How do you out-do your competitors?

Ibrahim: To stay afloat in any business, realigning one’s strategies against the competitors’ is necessary. Our personalized set up, where timely execution of quality and efficient service are not compromised puts us an edge above the rest. Altogether, our commitment and dedication carries the day.

Anthony: Where do you see Baobab in five years?

Ibrahim: Having seen the trends of our clientele grow steadily, we see ourselves as a major player in East African capital markets, especially with the upcoming synergy of East Africa Community’s stock exchange.

Anthony: What unites you?

Ibrahim: We complement each other. The optimism, commitment and the openness with which we relate to each other led to the setting up of  Baobab Capital. We now focus ahead with reference to others who have defied ‘excuses’ to achieve greater things. Mo Ibrahim, one of our role models whose war-torn Sudanese background could not deter him in his effort to start huge ventures like Celtel (a leading mobile Service provider in Africa) is our motivation. Tom and I have a greater future together.

Anthony: What advice would you give  upcoming entrepreneurs?

Ibrahim: However small or big, new or old your idea is, pursue it. Never underestimate your ability. If we are doing it, you can do it even better. Do not allow failure to cross your mind as an option.

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