When I first started The Knowledge Consultancy it wasn’t even a registered business. It was a grand idea of the heart. To provide small businesses in Africa (primarily) with high end communication services. The idea being to give them a fair go in a world that is heavily skewed towards the larger players with deeper pockets and those who with other advantages such as ‘the right’ connections, preferential bias and so on. This is an important point to keep in mind. The business does not become real because of registration papers. It exists as a powerful idea with a specific purpose well before, which helps sustain the person with the idea through the every season possible. Papers are merely the housing that bring it to the level of human comprehension.
Now, all of this seemed pretty straightforward to me. Get out there, find some people, help them out and get them out there. End the exploitation of the ‘little guy’. Et voila! Africa develops and grows.
It hasn’t gone as I thought. Not in the slightest. Not in the least.
I never factored in (despite this being His idea entirely and me having given the business over to Him entirely), the presence and desires of God. Why would I? It is business after all. It seemed to be a realm where you could sort of play both worlds. Not really bring Him into conversations with your clients, but bring Him in when you pray about your business deals at night or the morning before key meetings. You see, foolishness comes in many forms.
Well. What appeared to be a typical business venture, has turned into one unforgettable training experience in HIs hands alone.
One of the memorable things that happened along the way was, surrounded by His favor, He brought me a client. With deep pockets. I thought to myself, “Vindication!!! This God is good.” Then, when I heard Him tell me the amount I was to charge them I was, simply put, flabbergasted. It seemed to me a ridiculously low figure. They could certainly afford more. This was after all – to my mind at the time – the client that would help the business be able to support those who simply didn’t have the finances to pay for my fees. This would be the anchor client. They should have paid big time for this. But, the voice that I heard was clear, clearer than crystal. So I rather begrudgingly obeyed. It is only later that I learnt why this amount was absolutely necessary.
Never in my entire life of working have I EVER experienced such a display of inadequacy on my part. Just the basics of what most people hold to be good business standards, it seemed impossible to uphold and deliver. You must understand that I came from a realm where working 23 hours in a day in order to deliver on task was a reality. The client got what the client wanted. My inability to produce made me want to fire myself. But, again, I heard the voice saying, “Issue an invoice.” I almost refused. It was just too embarrassing. How could I charge for this? But again. Clearer than crystal. So, again, I obeyed. Tremblingly. This went on for a short while until eventually, and understandably, the client and I parted ways.
Not your typical client-consultancy story. Not one that anyone in their right mind would share in a public forum either, right? Yet, here I am. Completely sane and sharing quite willingly for anyone out there who needs to hear this.
The context I am coming from is that I have seen God produce results through me that make clients smile. I have experienced His direction at work and delivered ideas and solutions almost at the drop of the hat, even under extreme circumstances. Since meeting the Lord, my life was utterly, absolutely and completely transformed. So this… person that was doing these things… terrified and humbled me, completely. It was then it was fully confirmed what I had suspected at some point before even believing that God was real… something about my life had been directed by Someone bigger than me for a while. Which meant that nothing I had ‘succeeded’ at or ‘failed’ at was outside of God’s plan for me.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that I was in training in faithfulness, obedience, Who God is, how to be His person. Previously, I had worked with (before I fully launched out on my own) several companies and teams that talked about how much they wanted to transform Africa. Some of them I never even put on my CV (long story) said they even agreed with my vision of supporting local businesses. Others talked about not sacrificing the vision they hold for the sake of money. They all soon caved under the pressure of looking for the same money I wanted to now pursue. And in my heart I had criticized them and with my mouth questioned their commitment, talking boldly about how given the opportunity, I would choose the vision God has given me over money. Talking about, better I starve than cave. Now here I was facing the same issue. Would I choose money or vision? Hm. God is to be feared.
The second thing I learnt. Would I do whatever God asked of me no matter what the clients thought of me? Strange as it may seem, invoicing at the command of God rather than wanting to just walk away from the whole thing was part of it. You see, I had gotten to a place where I was familiar with the praises of man. The sting of rejection I had faced a time or two but not to so great an extent. I knew the standards and it would have been painful but at least it would have saved face to just walk away. To be faithful to a vision requires that you face the possibility of wholehearted rejection of men and still stand with what you believe. I only had God’s voice to believe in. I was terrified of them and what they would say and do. But really, the worst that could have happened was that they would not pay me. But they did. And that, God said, is why He had me invoice so low. Obedience pays. I also needed to be in a position where, if required, I could heartily disagree with everything they were saying, propose completely contradicting options as strategy and not bat an eyelid should they choose to terminate the contract – or be able to walk away on pure moral standing. He was training me with small amounts.
It’s always seemed odd to me just how long the relationship lasted. I know Who kept it going though.
Am I saying that God wants us to perform in a sub-standard manner and get away with it? Not at all. I’m saying what God already said, thousands of years ago, His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts, our thoughts. For Him, it was more important to teach me about the fear and pride within, in order to get rid of it. It was critical to teach me to obey His standards, His voice in order to tear me away from the standards and the voice of the world. Painful? Yes. Needful? Absolutely couldn’t have done without it.
This experience transformed me. Am I in it for money or for God? I realized that a very big part of me was in it for money still and that part had to die. Partly because money holds so many people back. Prevents them from seeing Him and knowing what really matters. In the last 7 years from idea to registration to re-registration, I have had to continually face the position that I took with God, which was, “Whether they pay or not, I know you will take care of me. Let me just do my part in what I know to do.”
Since then I have known what it is like to go hungry, to face a largely cold, hard and unyielding tax system, work with a client base that can either be very appreciative of your sacrifices on their behalf… or equally unappreciative and to know what to do with both to keep my heart free and clear of offenses and pride.
The Knowledge Consultancy has enjoyed great triumphs, tremendously rich experiences and great pain, all in equal measure. Probably not in the way that you reckon. I have gone between questioning my sanity and lavishing God with thanksgiving for what He is doing. And not necessarily for the reasons that you think. Because some of the moments of praise have come when I am at my lowest, brokest and most rejected. In debt and tremendously unsure what to do next. The company has either been paid nothing, very little, redone entire jobs (which had been client approved) for free, taken way less than quoted – multiple times… or had no business. There were moments I have applied for jobs in desperation and either withdrew the application or rode out the silence of rejection. I have considered shutting down many times, I have walked away many times and come back. I have cried to God in more ways than I am even aware of, often in utter despair.
But you know what? Even when I gave up and gave in to despair and called myself things that God never has, He still came through and He has always, always, always taken care of every need. And I still believe that growing local business is critical to any economy in Africa. I still take jobs that barely give me what I need. I still hope and hang on to the idea that I can change the narrative of Africa and that it can take on its own unique flavor and not have to mimic the west or the east, but now, more than ever before, that it must fully embrace its identity in Christ in order to succeed. Period.
I realized the truth of this: Deuteronomy 8:18 18 “And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.” I am firmly convinced that every so-called civilization that has gone before that, man has counted as great and has been overawed by and sought to emulate, failed because of this one key thing. They forgot the Lord their God. I absolutely know that we are nothing without God and that is why The Knowledge Consultancy has been boldly proclaiming His Majesty over all things and issues concerning mankind and concerning Africa. Because we can go nowhere without Him and we are sadly, quickly getting there. But we can do something to change this.
What God is profoundly interested in when it comes to business is not great profit in the way that conventional business defines it. If that was all He was interested in, then surely the conversation would have stopped way before Jeff Bezos or Warren Buffet or Bill Gates. There have been greater, richer and wiser men in history. My friends, what He is keenly interested in is the true wealth of knowing Him, loving Him daily, honoring Him and being willing to grow with Him through every circumstance until you – learning more about Him – are transformed into His image and likeness. Into what you truly are meant to be. There is no other answer.