How Building a Financial Model Changed My Life

Every year, InVhestia runs an inter-university Financial Modelling competition in the 3rd quarter of the year. Last year, the top student was Fiona Mzee from Strathmore University. Fiona was participating in the competition for the second time and this speaks to her determination to succeed. She will be graduating with a Bachelor of Business Science in Financial Economics in June. At the end of her internship with InVhestia, we asked her to let us know how this journey had impacted her.

Fiona being awarded by Antony Maina, ANDE

Q. Why enter the competition for the second year?

A. I participated in the challenge twice because I got a certificate the previous and that was a very good incentive for me personally. I was also eager to participate this year because I got to see the positive impact it had on the previous year’s winners Bob Mani and Faiza Omar and thought, wow that could be me next year. The first time I did the competition I did not incorporate the FAST Standard to the best of my knowledge but was able to execute it better the next year since I understood it better. However, I must admit it was a pleasant surprise to have won. I did my level best but it was still quite surprising for me and one of the major highlights for me this year. I’m still very grateful and happy when I think about it. Building that financial model has changed my life.

Q. Do you feel that your expectations were met?

A. This experience was definitely beyond my expectations. Financial modelling is very different theoretically and practically. You have to be very analytical and be very focused on the task at hand as each model has to not only make sense but to be as very close to the actual business as much as possible. It takes application of knowledge to learn what we are taught in class. I think the internship was well structured I was able to learn a lot. I wouldn’t personally change anything. Everyone was very helpful during my time here. I got to get a wholesome experience and gain a lot of skills that will be useful during my progression.

Q. What would you say are some of your key takeaways?

  • I have learnt how to strive for perfection in my work. Clients expect us to deliver above and beyond what they except and Invhestia strives towards perfection in everything they do.
  • I was able to get a sense of the practical aspects to consider when building a model which can be translated to a real life project.
  • I have been able to learn a lot about project finance and corporate valuation especially from the videos I was given access to.
  • I’ve definitely improved on my excel skills and added to existing knowledge

Q. What advice would you give students who like yourself are looking to beef up their skills?

A. I would definitely encourage all students to participate in the competition because it helps one learn the FAST modelling approach which is a very convenient way and innovative way of modelling. You get a certificate from participating in the competition which is a great addition to the CV and the videos on are very beneficial as well. Not to mention, the internship experience was very fulfilling and definitely gave me a good sense of what working in the finance industry entailed. In my opinion it’s a wonderful start in the career of finance.

Q. What is next for you?

A. I’m currently applying for Masters in Economics and Finance. I would love to study abroad to enhance my knowledge in my field of study. I definitely want to go into corporate finance in the future and definitely continue with financial modelling as well. I would also like to do some academic work as well in the field of economics and finance. This whole experience has been a huge stepping stone in my career development and given me the chance to prepare myself for what lies ahead in the competitive field of finance.

During her time with us, Fiona worked on various assignments that helped her build her financial modelling and research skills. She also sat for her FAST Standard exam and is now FAST Level 1 certified. We are grateful to have had Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs and Consonance Investment Managers as partners for the 2018 edition of the competition. This partnership allowed us to find opportunities for 4 of the other top students, some of whom have been retained by our clients.

Should you want to plug in for the 4th Annual InVhestia Inter-University Competition, kindly reach out on


How Profitable is the Turkana Oil Project?

InVhestia has been in existence for several years, the company was founded in the year 2012 and has grown from a company offering services in Kenya only, to one which is active and offering services in over 5 African countries. Apart from Kenya our brand has been felt in Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Zambia and counting.

Other than geographical growth we have also realized over time that our services are not only useful in the private and public sector to answer purely commercial questions, but could also be quite useful in the public sector and the civil society space to contribute to pertinent debates which, in most cases, have a bearing on livelihoods on millions of persons.

In 2017 we launched our foray into this public and civil society space by deciding to commit resources to answer questions which to us looked to be interesting; questions which had a significant bearing on policy, law and eventually on cashflows to various arms of government and the population as a whole. Together with Open Oil, a Germany based company, we decided to work on a financial model on one of the oil blocks in Turkana. There had been lots of debate around how the revenues from the Oil discovered in Kenya were going to be shared, between the National Government, County Government and the Community. In all the articles we read we felt there was one thing missing, a financial model showing the impact of various options that one could review, make changes to and draw their own conclusions. Further there was the question of just how profitable these oil projects are; were they going to benefit the private oil companies at the expense of Kenyans?

File Photo of Oil Rig in Turkana County – The Star

The results to these questions are shared in our recently published report, Turkana oil field, Kenya Narrative Report, which can be accessed on this link. What is different about this report is that it does not only give the results of an exercise, it also publishes the financial model that was used to arrive at these conclusions. This is BIG since anyone interested in challenging our findings or seeking to answer other questions which we did not cover can easily do so by making changes on this FAST (Flexible Appropriate Structured and Transparent) compliant financial model.

While this is BIG for us we did not stop there. We have now worked with the Government of Kenya and that of Zambia on assignments by the Extractives Hub  to answer these kinds of questions and offer capacity building around financial modelling which is a critical piece to analyzing any kind of project, in this case mining projects.

Do enjoy the report and as always we welcome your comments.

Authored by Stephen Gugu

Project Finance Online Financial Modelling Course

InVhestia’s online financial modelling training offering has grown over time, catering for the needs of those who are unable to attend in class courses due to distance, costs or preference. InVhestia is happy to announce the addition of a new course, the Project Finance financial modelling course based on a real estate case study. InVhestia already has an introductory course to financial modelling, and a corporate finance and valuation course. The project finance course provides comprehensive coverage and a step-to-step guide towards understanding and evaluating a project with the added benefit of doing this from the comfort of your office or living room, at your own pace.

The course is hosted on the InVhestia online platform and is taught using instructional videos. Once you subscribe, you will access the course materials and handouts which have been organized in a modular manner. This means you can choose to start the course from the beginning or tackle specific items based on where you feel your challenges are. The only pre-requisite is a fair knowledge of MS Excel to enhance the quality of your experience.  If, however this is a challenge you can get started with the introduction for financial modelling course using FAST to bring you up to speed. The course is taught using the internationally recognized FAST Standard approach to financial modelling ensuring that upon completion any models you prepare can be used internationally and that they are Flexible, Appropriate, Structured and Transparent. Another key advantage of the FAST standard is that you can choose to sit the certification which sets you apart from other modellers and is a good indicator of your level of skill to employers and clients.

The aim of this course is to equip learners with the skills to make forecasts and evaluate projects with no historical information. This means that by the end of the course you should be able to create models for greenfield projects in various sectors. Instructed by Stephen Gugu, who has several years of experience in the project finance field and as an instructor, the course starts by defining the broader aspects of project finance. The course approaches modelling based on the three phases of the projects; development, construction and operations. It examines financing of projects, calculation of taxes, key ratios and returns from both the project and the equity basis. Sensitivity and scenario analysis are also covered just like in real world situations where these tend to be more important than the base cases.

It took us 48 hours to shoot the content for this course and more than 200 hours in editing and reviewing to ensure that the user gets the best product possible. The content was examined and reviewed by our team of junior and senior associates for ease of understanding and accuracy. The final product usually makes the work done in the background look easy, trust us it’s not! On one of the shooting days, the instructor powered through a battle with a flu, which explains the deepening voice when dealing with construction finance. Quips aside, we take pride in this course which we designed to pass along model build and audit skills in a way that makes for good retention. We have incorporated a discussion forum on the platform that allows one to engage with InVhestia’s experienced financial modelling team for any issues, and the good news is you are always guaranteed a response within the shortest time possible. Aside from that, a one-time purchase guarantees you a lifetime access which means you can refer, refresh and review the material at any time. If the lifetime access is not for you, paying per month at reduced rates is also part of the menu, reach out to us at to get access to the course in the way that makes most sense to you.

The course is carefully structured with over 10 hours of content presented in 5 – 12 minute videos. The case study covers modules such as project finance timeline, construction costs, construction finance, operating revenue and cost and final exit of the project. The modules make it easy for one to understand the theory behind project finance, building a FAST-compliant project finance model and evaluate various projects using measures as IRR, NPV and ratios. Using other teaching tools, we have made it possible for you to follow the practical modelling and model alongside the instructor.

As an introductory offer, we have extended a 50% discount to anyone who signs up for the course by the end of November 2017. Don’t miss out!! Register for FM102 and use the coupon code F701C2C8C9 to take advantage of this offer.

Watch the Introduction to Project Finance video here

Life In The FAST Lane: Financial Modelling Competition Winners

James Wambua a 4th year Business and Finance student at University of Nairobi was walking on campus grounds heading to his dorms when a friend asked to borrow his laptop and for help carrying speakers. He helped carry the sound equipment to the meeting room, set up and then decided to sit in and find out what the session was all about. It turned out to be a financial modelling training session that changed his life.

James Wambua

“The trainer gave us a case to model and all of us tried to solve it using various methods. At the end of it, he introduced a variable which threw a spanner in the works. Suddenly, everyone was struggling with adjusting the outcome. And then he introduced the FAST Standard, and we were amazed that it did away with the margin of error” James recalled.

Kevin Mbugua fondly remembers the session that he terms as “the most productive training session he attended in his 4 years as a student at Nairobi University campus.” Kevin, a Finance and Accounting student, had received a Whatsapp message inviting him for the training. InVhestia had put out a call for students from various university campuses to participate in a financial modelling competition. The top prize was an internship as well as sponsorship for the FAST Certification exam. “The prize was a motivator but I was more interested in learning. I was looking for a challenge, to see what other opportunities there were outside of Accounting based on my area of study. I figured this would be an avenue to explore what was out there,” Kevin says.

Kevin Mbugua

After the training session, the students then spent some time going through the InVhestia’s free online training material to prepare for the financial modelling competition and tried their best to come up with a solution to the case given to them. On submission, they both remember being unsure about their results. However, a few weeks later they came to an InVhestia cocktail with other students from Strathmore University, their only information, they were shortlisted as the top performers in the competition. It is then they learnt that they had come in first and second position. Kevin, who led the students at the top, was surprised and elated. His first call was to his mother who he says was over the moon.

Both Kevin and James joined the InVhestia team and have enjoyed learning more as regards the financial industry. They have both recently passed their FAST Certification examination and are better modellers for it. “I think every student should take hold of opportunities like these,” says James. Even though he stumbled into it, he’s glad he did.  James hopes to pursue a Masters in Strategic Management in the near future. Kevin’s advice to students is to look out for training opportunities that will give them more than a certificate of attendance. He has aspirations of being a business owner and believes all he has learnt only serves to make him more successful.

InVhestia will be running the 2nd edition of the FAST financial modelling inter-university competition in October 2017.

FAST Financial Modelling Competition: Why you should sign up

Job interviews can be stressful even for the seasoned professional who walks into an interview armed with a decorated portfolio and relevant years of experience. Now, picture yourself, a university graduate with little-to-no work experience, walking into a room and given the below spreadsheet and a case study.


The interviewer then says, ‘You have one and a half hours to get back to us’ and walks out of the room.

As they walk out, right hot on their heels is your dream of becoming an investment banker, financial analyst, financial consultant, portfolio manager or a practitioner in the private equity and venture capital industry, [insert fancy finance title here]…

Things they don’t tell you in uni

Your future employer may offer training but not on every aspect of the job because the assumption is that you went to university, right?

After the first round of interviews, which is mostly to measure you up against your resume and see if they like you enough, they may call you in for a second interview and hand you a financial model to not only make sense of, but make sure that the numbers balance.

But wait…

‘Each company has its own unique modelling template, so they should train me!’

Well, not for long. Company giants like F1F9, PwC, Finance Mechanics, InVhestia (that’s us by the way) and Grant Thornton now apply a standard way of modelling known as the FAST Standard.


The FAST Standard is an international recognized financial modelling methodology used by major firms worldwide such as those previously mentioned in their modelling assignments. You can read more about it by clicking here.

Bragging rights: InVhestia is the first and only firm in Africa to become an accredited provider of the FAST Standard. You can check out the other global signatories by clicking here.

FAST is an acronym that stands for:

Flexible – A flexible model meets its objectives and can be maintained, re-purposed and updated as needed.

Appropriate – A model with an appropriate degree of accuracy reflects key business decisions without unnecessary detail.

Structured – A structured model has been built consistently and ensures that form follows function.

Transparent – A transparent model is as simple as it can be and does not have unnecessary complexity to obfuscate its functionality, and can be used by anyone with some modelling experience, not just its creator.

Back to your job hunting

The surest way to ace that interview is to walk in armed with the FAST Standard Level 1 Certification as proof that you:

  • Understand the FAST standard and
  • Can apply the FAST Standard in any modelling exercise.

Given that FAST methodology is new in the African market, we have a free online course that you can sign up for.  You can do it 15 minutes a day for 10 days for you to have a fighting chance to land that job. But that is, of course, as long as no one with a FAST Standard Level 1 Certificate walks in…

The Inter university FAST Financial Modelling Competition

Having done the 2.5 hour course (this is not a requirement but we strongly advise that you have a crack at it), to test your level of skill levels, sign up for our week long online modelling competition!

‘Now what would I want to put in all that effort?’

  • First place: Internship at a top financial institution, the full online FAST Financial Modelling course license, and InVhestia merchandise.
  • Second Place: The full online FAST Financial Modelling course license, and InVhestia merchandise.
  • Third place: InVhestia merchandise.

All competing modellers will receive a certificate of participation.

Do we have your attention now?

The competition will run between the 15th and 19th August, 2016* from 10 am to 3 pm of the first and last day whereby the system will be closed to allow us to grade your models. To participate, register at for our introductory course. Under ‘Tell us why you are interested in InVhestia’ state that you are interested in the financial modelling competition. This last part is important as it’ll help us find you.

Winners will be announced two weeks after the competition.

For regular updates check out (and like) our page and don’t forget to download and share the flyer!


*Late October dates to be communicated.




Riara University lecture

Kenyan landscape 

The Kenyan educational system is tailored to provide its citizens with relevant knowledge and skills applicable in the current job market. There is however often a gap where theory does not translate to practical and employers often find that they have to re-train graduates to be able to undertake career roles effectively.

InVhestia is bridging this gap by educating university students on what is required of them in the current job market. Being a corporate and project finance advisory firm, we believe that graduates ought to know the latest trends in the market that will give them an edge as they look to fit into the job market.

The FAST Standard financial modelling certification is one such tool that will give not only graduates but current finance professions financial modelling skills to make them more marketable in the job market. It is not uncommon to find graduates who have a good grounding in finance and business theory but cannot effectively translate the same to financial models, InVhestia, being the first and only African organization accredited to offer this certification, is looking to plug this theory-practice gap.

FAST, which stands for flexible, appropriate, structured and transparent, is an international financial modelling methodology developed and utilized by various industry experts including those from F1F9, PWC, Finance Mechanics, InVhestia and Grant Thornton.


The lecture

The lecture was eye opening for the 30 third-year students in attendance. They had a basic concept of what modelling was but one could tell the fascination with what they can do with excel. To certain the relevance of the FAST Standard, Stephen Gugu, the co-founder of InVhestia and Principal mentioned the companies that he and his team had trained for the FAST Standard modeling course. Most of them were well known financial institution that the students would like to intern or even work in.

Stephen gave the students an explanation of how the current job market works. While recruiting for most financial positions nowadays, employers, as part of the interview, will give the interviewee a case study and ask them to come up with a financial model that demonstrates their theoretical and practical knowledge. The FAST certification is meant to give the employer confidence that one is a competent financial modeler just as Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification indicates that one is a competent financial analyst, FAST Standard Certification is already becoming a necessary post graduate course to take for one to show their competency in financial modelling.

One of the questions asked by the students was, ‘What guarantees do we have that we will get the well-paying job?’

The answer is quite simple, there are no guarantees. It’s the same question a person would ask themselves when applying for a master’s degree or a PhD; there are no guarantees but they give you an edge during an interview process and if that is not important it also gives you skills you can employ in your own work in budgeting and even consulting projects.


To learn more about the FAST Standard, go here.