A lot of co-working spaces go to great lengths to highlight the companies that work from their space. At Nairobi Garage, we feel that telling about the people behind the companies and their, sometimes roller coaster-like, stories, is far more interesting. We thought it could also shed light on diverse people profiles, their personal and cultural backgrounds. We are calling it #ZOOMIN. Today we kick off this year’s series with Munyutu Waigi, co-founder and CIO of Umati Capital.

Munyutu Waigi_Profile Picture

About Munyutu Waigi
Munyutu was raised in Mombasa, Nyali, however he left for England when he was only 13 years old. The technology bug bit Munyutu when he worked for WilliamF1 team as part of his degree program. After graduating from Brunel University in London where he studied Information Systems, Munyutu joined Accenture where he worked under the Communications & Technology docket. The urge to do something much bigger that would challenge him was overwhelming and he decided to quit 3 months short of his 3 year anniversary at Accenture. He moved back to Mombasa, to start all over again. He set up a Wi-Fi company (MoComm Wireless) which wasn’t particularly fulfilling either. About year and a half later he finally got his big break. Along with Leandro Sanchez, Munyutu co-founded a company that most of us have heard of – Rupu, a group buying website. Two years later he cashed out and used the funds to start his true life’s work. And that’s pretty much the beginning of Umati Capital.

Give me a 90 second elevator pitch on your startup!
In a nutshell, Umati Capital is an innovative tech-based lending institution. We primarily lend to Processors & Exporters across the ag-sector. Umati Capital provides working capital (invoice discounting & supply chain financing solutions) to bridge challenging (30/45/60 or 90 days) payment terms faced by Suppliers. Take for example the coconuts value chain. There’s the farmer who grows the coconuts and in-turn sells them to a Processor/Exporter who extracts value and sells the compressed oil to international buyers across the US & UK. Having purchased coconuts from hundreds of farmers, the Processor/Exporter has usually less than 30 days to settle their debt. The Processor/Exporter unfortunately has to wait 45 days to receive payments from their international buyer/s. This leaves a funding gap that the Processor/Exporter has to plug. Instead of approaching banks who require collateral & lengthy processing timelines, the Processor/Exporter has Umati Capital as a premier solution provider. Unlike banks, Umati Capital does not require collateral to lend to the Processor/Exporter. Furthermore, Umati Capital offers technology (mobile & web apps) that help the Processor/Exporter digitise their purchasing process since this is usually a very manual process. All in all, Umati Capital offers seamless financing along with innovative technology, a value proposition most banks cannot match.

What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
It has got to be one of my first jobs while in London. I was 17 years old and I had to wash cars to make a living because I wanted to move out of my mom’s house. I tell you, there’s nothing worse than washing cars during winter. The ice cold water numbs your hands in minutes :(

Is there something you’ve dreamt of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
Good question. I particularly like giving back wherever I can. Apart from giving back to the entrepreneur community, I’ve always dreamt about learning sign language for a long time now. I want to help children who rely heavily on sign language. I will do it one day, Inshallah. Why haven’t I learnt sign language yet? I guess my excuse is that I’ve been busy spending quality time focusing on Umati Capital, my son & wife (and not always in that order).

Who is your biggest inspiration in life?
My biggest inspiration in life has been my mum. Having lost my dad when I was 11, my mum played both roles and successfully raised two children fairly well. That must have been difficult for her.

And finally,  if you could invite anyone in the world for dinner, who would it be?
Dinner… Absolute cliche, Barack Obama. Having briefly seen him at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, I’d like to chat with him over dinner. I’d like to learn about how he became such a successful figure, having come from an environment which dictated that he shouldn’t have been that successful. It’s just the ability to overcome challenges, it takes a lot of mental strength and patience, and that’s not common across many people. He set history in many fronts. Plus, he seems really fun too.

// Thanks for your time Munyutu & to all of you out there – we hope you enjoyed reading this. Stay tuned for the next #ZOOMIN in a week!