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Money Grows on Trees with Faatin Bux
Written by Tendai Tambudze
13 August 2012

This self-confessed serial entrepreneur was so determined to put her business idea into practise that while the rest of South Africa was watching the world cup, she got onto a plane to London to hunt down Robert Kiyosaki,  renowned businessman and author of ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad.’

A series of serendipitous events started when she lost money in a million dollar deal and that led her to attend a workshop in Johannesburg, which culminated in a trip to London and back. She was powered by a simple but ambitious vision: to increase financial literacy in South Africa.

Her plan was to pitch her idea to Robert Kiyosaki and rope him in as a partner, although she had never spoken to him before and did not even have an appointment. In true gutsy entrepreneur style, she harassed him and his team until he finally agreed to set up a meeting. The meeting with Robert didn’t go the way she planned; ‘He didn’t help at all,’ she laughingly admits. The trip did however; mark the start of her journey with her business called Money Grows on Trees. Her time in London also put her on the path of a fellow South African, Stephen Larkin, who she happened to sit next to while attending a conference.

“The trip was not totally wasted”, she reflects. “Perhaps the reason I had to go to London was to meet Stephen because he was instrumental in helping me start the business and introduced me to some contacts in Johannesburg.”  She is also still in touch with some of Robert’s advisors and mentors who have proved to be a useful source of information and advice.

Faatin’s journey has been one of passion and purpose based on a fundamental belief that money is a glorious tool that everyone has a right to, and she knows her life purpose is to teach other people that. Popularly dubbed, the ‘Money Magnet,’ Faatin shares her insights on money, business and the entrepreneurial journey.

 

So what exactly is ‘Money Grows on Trees’ all about?

FB: Money Grows on Trees is a wealth creation edu-play programme that teaches young learners the art of growing money by playing games.

 

And how did this all get started?

FB: I lost close to a million rand in a business deal that went sour. In that process, I realised I was not financially literate and decided I needed to get those skills. In getting those skills I realised that there were so many others in the same boat; people in debt, families not making ends meet etc. So I went to a workshop about setting goals and living your passion and that workshop made me realise financial literacy is something that is close to my heart. I embarked on a journey to London and back hoping that Robert would be hugely philanthropic and partner with me to produce a game. He sort of just laughed and wasn’t very helpful, but that was the beginning.  On coming back to South Africa, I developed my own board game with a team of people. And now we have also started doing software in the form of computer games and on mobile phones. We ultimately want people to behave differently as they become financially literate.

 

How long did it take you to start making money?

FB: It took me a year and a half to get people to buy into the concept when I initially started this a few years ago. I then I took a bit of a hiatus from the business during a divorce and since then I have been making money for the past year or so.

 

How did you land your first client?

FB:  My first client was the International Human Rights Exchange. They had their human rights and social agenda with a community in Rustenburg so I went with them from a financial literacy point of view. That was the gap because these organisations do social development work, but it falls flat from a sustainability point of view because they don’t teach their recipients how to create wealth.

 

What are the most crucial things you have done to grow your business since then?

FB: At the moment we are trying to build our online community. Everyone has seen the power of the web so the more people we can get to sing our praises online and offline, the better. Also if you can get a thousand people to give you a R5 online, that also works in the long run. So we are really trying to do the e-commerce side of things going. As a foot soldier I can only do so much.

 

What plans do you have for expansion?

FB: It’s all going to be online. I’m also going to be focussing on other markets. We do a lot of work with school children, but in all honesty, young professionals also need remedial teaching. They have credit cards, salaries coming in but never translate the surplus into a wealth creation vehicle; So Money Grows on Trees is trying to do online seminars for young professionals through webinars, mentoring and coaching. It is very results driven and more about action than theory.

 

What’s the typical client experience?

FB: We prefer to talk to people about spending and establishing an ideal plan for the spending. I find it’s a lot more empowering than talking about debt. When you mention the word debt, people’s eyes glaze over so we like to take a different approach. Clients go through exercises with a coach and finding ideal spending and eventually this becomes a habit.  It starts with as little as saving R50 per month. It then becomes about what you do with that R50 to make it R100… and then R200 and then R400…

 

What has been your most effective marketing tactic or technique?

FB: At the moment it’s mostly word of mouth. We also have a Facebook page and we tweet daily. I have now also started contacting radio and TV for airtime.

 

What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?

FB:  I’m on my third business now so you can imagine how much I have learnt!  Financial literacy, off course, was crucial and is the reason I am doing what I am doing today.  What also happens with entrepreneurs is we do what we know and stay in industries we are familiar with. For instance, my first business was in the recruitment agency because I was a recruitment consultant. I have since learnt that using your technical skill and to try produce something is not always the best way. It’s more about passion and purpose.

 

I have now learnt about the importance of focussing on one project at a time to make it successful and sustainable before moving on. I also realise I get bored quite easily so I try delegate more to keep my plate fresh. I don’t like getting bogged down by admin because it makes me loose fire and passion. As female entrepreneurs I think we are control freaks and tend to refuse to relinquish control, but now I am at a point where I’d rather teach someone and be flexible to their mistakes.

 

Speaking of female entrepreneurs, what the difference between female and male entrepreneurs?

FB: I have also noticed with women we do a lot of research and spend a lot of time trying to get things right and pay attention to all finer details. My male counterparts just seem to wing it, and they just take it as it comes, making plans and adjustments along the way. I find they usually get the contract before I do.  So I am learning to wing it some more!

 

So do you have business partners? How did you pick them?

FB: I have a lot of partnerships and affiliations with coaches, debt councillors, facilitators and trainers all over South Africa. They are a huge part of our business and outsourcing skills is important because I can’t be all things to all people. I also realised that perception is key so it’s nice to be able to say our team is 25 strong and know that there are 25 people who can back me up on a project at any given time.

 

How do you pick the people you partner with?

FB: I have been an entrepreneur since I was 23, so for the past 9 years I have gotten to know the industry. The people I pick are the type of quality people I need to take my business forward.

 

How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?

FB:  Being the boss basically allows me to fashion my business around my family. There are times when I play hard and then times when I work equally hard, and my family knows that. When I need to knuckle down to work, that’s what I do. When it’s time to play with my toddlers I do that with equal verve and passion and will even I switch off my phones. I try to be present in whatever task I am doing

 

 

What motivates you to keep working at your business?

FB: It’s about connecting what I do on a daily basis to a bigger picture. I am trying to turn South Africa’s GDP around through household savings, growing wealth and expenditure I see South Africa growing wealthier and having old money. So I keep my eye on the bigger picture and break it down every day to small tasks.

I am passionate about Africa on a whole becoming self reliant. I find it disheartening to think about South Africa constantly looking for money and bailouts off shore. We need to realise we have an abundance of wealth and resources at our feet and need to learn to translate that into wealth creation for ourselves and our family. I start my day with a 10 minute preparation. I write my bigger picture goals and I set my to-do list, according to the bigger picture.

 

Why do you think some entrepreneurs struggle to make it?

FB: You can’t be the type of person who gets excited at every opportunity. You need to evaluate them and see if they are right for you at the time. I see people chasing opportunity after opportunity, but they don’t have discipline to see it through.  You need to tap into your real purpose for being here. See what your goals and your life purposes are and that prevents you from being led by the nose

 

Any plans for opening another business soon?

FB: I have an idea brewing in my mind and it is based on my divorce and the experience I went through. I think that whole experience taught me a lot and I see an opportunity there for something; but I am also clear that now is not the time to pursue that idea 


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