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CFA Institute Research challenge – East African Edition; Grab those opportunities!

From Left: Obed Matara, Mercy Maina, and Irene Nzai


Kwani tunamaliza University without anything to show that we studied in Strath? Let’s do this!” Irene says as we began the interview on why they decided to participate in the CFA Institute Research challenge as the rest of her team mates, Mercy Maina and Obed Matara, reminisced on how their journey to fame began.

The journey of a Financial Engineering Student

Mercy Maina, Obed Matara and Irene Nzai are Bachelor of Business Science; Financial Engineering (FENG) students awaiting their graduation later this year (2022).

Irene: Pursuing FENG has been a worthwhile journey full of experiences that I would go back and relive with a heartbeat. I won’t lie that it was a bed of roses. The course taught me to work under pressure. Hard work equated to good grades; I had no other business but to excel.

Mercy: I love Mathematics! However, it was not the simple 1+1 =2 mathematics. Initially, I thought that was not my destiny. I first pursued Law and then opted to study FENG.

Obed: CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT! There were times that we thought we had it… but we didn’t. We’d get 29/30 in one CAT and 1/30 in the next one!

The Competition

2nd March 2022 marked the culmination of the 2021-2022 CFA Institute Research Challenge East Africa competition whereby over ten universities across East Africa participated. These included: Strathmore University, Uganda Christian University, University of Rwanda, Makerere University, Kampala and Cooperative University of Kenya.

The students, either in their final year of university or graduates, were to conduct extensive research and prepare an equity research report on a publicly traded company. The subject companies were banks across East AfricaThe Co-operative Bank (for the Kenyan universities), Stanbic Bank Uganda Holdings Limited (for the Ugandan universities) and Bank of Kigali (for the Rwandan universities). Their findings were evaluated by a high profile panel consisting of heads of research, portfolio managers and Chief Investment Officers from top firms across East Africa.

As take away nuggets, the Research Challenge was a window of opportunity for the participants to learn from leading industry experts through hands-on mentoring and intensive training in company analysis, best practices in equity research, ethics and presentation skills that would be efficient in the transition to the professional world.

A chain is as strong as the weakest link

Obed: In selecting a good and strong team to work with, one must consider numerous factors. Not only their co-operation, availability or even brilliance. It has to be strategic. Commitment and resilience were key components that kept us together.

Irene: To achieve the 100 marks up for grabs in this competition, we had to be strategic in the formation of our team. Too many cooks spoil the broth. We settled on three heads that proved  better than one.

Mercy: The beauty in friendship truly contributed to us succeeding and finishing strong. In our four years of studying together, we have grown and worked as a team and thus coming together to participate in this Challenge was not just the beginning. Staying together was progress. Working together was our ultimate success.

In the 2021-2022 CFA Institute Research Challenge (National/Locals), our team scooped the first position. They won 500 USD and certificates for their great work.


Irene: Getting a mentor was a short cut to success. We could not have done it without the support and words of encouragement from our industry mentors, Elias and Jilian, SIMS faculty members, who were a guide and a source of hope.

As for you who is reading this…

Mercy: If you’re going to do something, do it to the end. Do not just do 70% of it, Finish the race!

Obed: Pursue all those opportunities that SU avails to you! Do them even if you’re scared or uncertain about what the outcome will be. You never know what lies ahead.

Irene: Do it when you can. Don’t wait until the last minute to pursue these opportunities…


Congratulations on your win! Well deserved.! As you await your results to progress to the Regional Semifinals, we wish you all the very best!


This article was written by Jemmy Kamau.


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