Businesses & Financial News

How a risky move put my career, spirituality back on course

By Steve Umidha

After 10 years of unrivaled loyalty, George Mathole brusquely resigned from his role at Absa Group Limited –the defunct Barclays Bank Africa.

As much as he loved his time there, the unforeseen decision came down to this:

“I was way too deep into my comfort zone. My role at the then Barclays Bank was no longer challenging me and I wasn’t learning anything new in my day-to-day tasks — I completely lost the thrill,” recalls Mathole when he sat down with me to share his rousing journey to ‘freedom’.

The father of two daughters says he figured he needed a change in scenery and some time off to “shake things up a bit.”

And after joining the bank in 2008 – the only employer in his entire career, George says he felt he was approaching his fourth decade on earth and his heart was itching to finally try and start something of his own. “Something meaningful, something impactful.”

So he did what he thought was right. He quit, he was done.

And just like that, he handed in his resignation note, packed his bags, and walked out of the premises he had called home for a decade – serving in several key positions at the prestigious bank including credit operations, trade finance and sales divisions.

Mathole startlingly walked out and left behind his six-figure wage, leaping into the unfamiliar terrain. The year was 2018.

“Man, it was an enormous risk…my bosses were opposed to it, but I had made up my mind,” explains a tickled Mathole beneath his cerulean colored face mask.

An accountant by profession – Mr Mathole narrates how the death of his father somewhat stirred something in him – the longing desire to fulfill his entrepreneurial instincts, a resolution he had flirted with for the longest time.

Father passes on

“So what happened I lost my dad in December 2017 and he had this company for logistics which he had operated for about 12 years, but once he passed on all responsibilities fell upon me.

So I had to figure out how to manage it in his absence so that it doesn’t go down,” narrates the 37 year-old alumni of the United States International University (USIU) Africa who also attended Njoro Boys High School in Nakuru County.

At the USIU, Mathole who grew up in Eastlands – Posta Estate along Jogoo Road, majored in International Business Administration, finance option.

But there was a problem.

The buoyant Mathole wasn’t too sure how he would manage his father’s logistics company, but he knew it was what he had signed up for when he called it a day at Barclays bank, now Absa Group Africa.

In 2016, the UK controlling shareholder of Barclays Africa Group, Barclays Plc., announced that it wanted to sell its 62 per cent stake of its African banks, which included Kenyan entity and banks in 11 other countries in Africa. The name-change came to force in February last year.

“I had no previous knowledge in the logistics business. What I learnt was, the truck drivers who I had inherited from my dad were stealing from the company and more often I was forced to go into my pocket to keep the business afloat,” he says in an exclusive interview.

His deceased father owned two trucks and outsourced two others for his dairy and cement businesses at the time.

Anger-driven decision

“The loss of my dad angered me so much so I had to seek answers but I didn’t know how to. So one day I remembered an old friend I had met earlier – a spiritual pastor,” he narrates, in a rather solemn attitude.

But he neither had his address nor a working cellphone number to contact him.

Mathole was despondent and miserable, frail and too desperate to revive the dying business whose death was inexorable.

“We had suspected that my dad was bewitched and that concept angered me so badly that I came close to doing the unthinkable. But it was God’s grace I did not take that route. I cannot explain how such a conviction came to me,” says Mathole who had entirely lost clasp with the inherited logistics business.

Rare encounter

Luckily, he met the pastor – a man he says helped build his faith in God.

“He has a spiritual gift, he is a prophet. He confirmed whatever I narrated to him about the death of my father. The best I could do was to pray. It is the same year my spirituality was birthed.

He had informed me even before resigning from my employment, that my blessings were tied in business and not in employment,” he says.

Things would then degenerate from bad to worse.

With the business now dead, Mathole says clients, partners and the two outsourced truckers dumped him in his time of need “and things just went down…I remember there was a day I survived on Sh500 for three weeks between me and poverty…I never left the house,” he narrates painfully.

“During this time all I could do was read the Bible and my wife who was still in employment at the time took care of all expenses for me and our little girls,” he says.

What’s worse, Mathole says at this point he was still servicing a mortgage with his previous employer.

“Immediately I resigned, the repayment interests rates shot to 13 per cent from the previous 3 per cent the bank was offering its employees taking up mortgage loans at the time. The business had closed. I was in a mess. All I had was hope,” he says.

Owing to the hopelessness, Mathole says he embarked on a tedious job searching undertakings but often declined most of the offers.

“I got an offer from one financial institution in Kikuyu which was offering a Sh20, 000 pay. Remember at Barclays I was operating at over Sh200, 000 salary. So I declined the offer because I felt the amount would all go to transport expenses,” he says.

While his spirituality had tremendously grown at this point, he felt he was still not getting the answers he was seeking from God – nothing was changing and nothing was giving.

One day as daylight faded, he fell to his knees and prayed out loud, sobbing as he smashed his fist into the carpet. He was empty.  “What do I need to do God,” he cried irrepressibly.

“At this point. I remembered a verse in the Bible. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Armed with the scriptural verse, Mathole embarked on a rare journey of evangelism in his priest’s church, an endeavor he religiously undertook until “Things began to make sense to me.”

“Requests and calls of partnerships now began to come forth. I had built a network of contacts of individuals in the logistics business. I attended so many coffee meetings in an attempt to try and seal some of the proposals,” he narrates.

His breakthrough would then show up later in 2018 when a call from one of the country’s leading logistic companies came calling.

“So they have a wide range of trucks including the prime movers. They told me they wanted to focus on big trucks. They needed someone to second for the opportunity. I didn’t have the capacity to do it but I signed the contract nonetheless,” he says.

Today George Mathole is the proud owner of Eldakk Logistics – a company he founded in 2018 which has since grown into an empire with annual turnover averaging Sh 64million.

“It is now bigger than the company I inherited from my Dad which is still active,” he says.

Eldakk Logistics is a Transport Company based in Nairobi, Mombasa with outlets in smaller towns across the two Counties.

“From a fleet of 3 trucks in 2018 to a fleet of 36 trucks and a turnover that has grown at least 10 times within a span of 3 years, I hereby submit to you that life has a formula and there are spiritual laws which when applied will command certain results in Business,” he poses.

The reason why I’m passionate about this “Power of Attraction” is because when I spent most of my time looking for people who would partner up with me and help in growing the business I lacked this understanding, but when I sought to understand how this principle works all of a sudden I started receiving calls and from that, 90 per cent of by business associates somehow reached out to me as opposed to me reaching out to them.

In fact I have never personally met quite a number of them yet they trust me with their trucks – this is definitely not by chance,” he concludes.

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