Not many would need an introduction to Aly Khan Satchu. The force behind Rich.co.ke, East Africa’s go to financial portal, and author of “Anyone can be Rich”. Eat Out’s Mikul Shah discovers another side of the financial guru that is arguably the most influential investor at the NSE.
Espresso, Cappuccino or Mocha?
Now we’ve got the formalities out of the way, who is the REAL Aly Khan?
That’s a multisided question. I think I am still on a voyage of discovery. I hope it does not sound too trite but I like to think I am a citizen of the world. I am a , a Husband, a Son, and yes, I am obsessed with the markets.
You were born in Mombasa and have traveled across the world. What have been your fondest memories and specifically dining experiences?
My fondest memories are of my childhood in Mombasa, the sand in my toes, a madafu in my hand and the sea lapping at my feet. I can highlight having a meal at the Jules Verne restaurant on the top of the Eiffel Tower or when I took all the ladies in my life to London’s Nobu.
You studied at the University of Durham, was it a diet of Beans-on-Toast and trips to the kebab shop?
(Grins) I shared a house with two ladies who had been to Swiss Finishing School who spoilt me with spectacular cuisine.
You studied Law, what then drew you to banking?
I have always been obsessed with numbers and Markets. In fact, I subsequently discovered that I was a paper trader from the age of 8 before really knowing it.
I’ve heard an incredible story about your first job at Credit Suisse.
I started at the very bottom. My father had pulled my credit line, and so I found a temporary job at Credit Suisse. That’swhere I started my career in the engine room or the factory floor. 6 Months in, I had to have the Deputy Chairman sign off a document and I pitched him and 2 weeks later I was on the trading floor. He was the epitomy of a banker. Smoked an enormous Cohiba and he believed in me for which I am grateful.
You worked with powerhouses in the investment world, trading billions. Why decide to come home? It can’t have been our wonderful restaurants?
(Chuckles) I am a Kenyan in my heart and Kenya has the power of pull. Now I know I was seeking closure on my mother’s passing away, I was looking for something different in my career.
I caught you on Jeff Koinage’s Bench and he calls you “Smokin’ Satchu”! Do your friends have a nickname for you?
A-K, A-K47 or The Aly Can Man!
What do you do when not working?
I like getting out of the city and visiting all those beautiful places we have in this blessed country. I particularly enjoy Mount Kenya Safari Club, Lewa and the Coast. I like to read – and of course I have a relationship with my laptop, which my wife has named my ‘Love Top’.
Where do you enjoy eating out? What annoys at restaurants here?
Seven, I like a lot. I like the food. The girls are very fond of Meditteraneo and Que Pasa. Most annoying thing is second-rate service. The seeming inability to take a simple booking, but that’s why you’ve done so well.
Can you cook?
No. I am quite spoilt in that regard but I am a very harsh critic.
How about your choice of drink?
Red wine, preferably a Chateau Margaux. I am finding a late blooming taste for Whiskey as I am now running with the ‘Crowd’. (Referring to Bob Collymore and Swiss Ambassador Jacques Pitteloud who are both Whiskey aficionados.)
You’re somewhat of a social media evangelist? 13k followers on Twitter?
(Smiles) I think Social Media has flattened the world into a pancake. It’s been a wonderful platform for me. I have engaged President Kagame via Twitter. I saw Africa 2.0 coming 6 years ago and that’s why I came back – it is no surprise to me but nevertheless very exciting. My business club is in fact a new media phenomenon.
How did it (Mind Speak) all start?
It started at the Junction 3 years ago with a small audience of about 40. And I just kept going. It’s very dear to me and I’m always amazed at its traction – The idea came to me via Mawlana Rumi’s Inscription at Konya where it is written: “Come, Come whoever you are even if you have broken your vows a thousand times” – I thought to myself one day I will create a club with a can do spirit where impossible is nothing.
Can anyone be rich? How did you get the writing bug?
I have always enjoyed reading. Writing came to me only when I came back home. The world is the most meritocratic it has ever been and everyone has a talent, they just have to find it.
Finally, tell us something about AK that not many people would know.
When I was single and I felt intensely about someone I quoted Heinrich Heine in German: “Bin Ich so in Lieb mit dir als hat ich deine Blut Getrunken”, which means: “I am so in Love with You its as if I have drunk your Blood.” It never failed and has magical powers. So who knows maybe I am a c21st wizard