Wedding: is a one day drama but Marriage: is a lifetime ministry

A wise man once stood up and told me, a wedding is a one day drama while marriage is a lifetime ministry. That wise man is my brother Job Ontimbu Nyabuti Labda. Why is he called Labda? Because he will use the word in every Swahili sentence he constructs. The wise words were given on the day of the wedding because he was with me along the way of planning that said drama.

November 27th 2020 was the date. We called it a COVID wedding because we were only allowed to invite a maximum of 150 guests and that was because we did the wedding a little later compared to those that did it when the restriction was only for 50 guests. If you have ever been to an African wedding Pre-COVID, you will understand why this was difficult. Kenyan weddings have the signature 600+ attendance with two to four passenger buses travelling from upcountry with aunts and uncles you have never met. The weddings are characterized by bottomless eating together with a tonne of gifts 80% being drinking water glasses and ceramic plates. Let me not forget the bed and mattress that is gifted from the family side to signal the new home you are about to build. Local guests come to weddings for the food and gossip, if there isn't enough of that even the envelope gifts i.e. money shall be scarce. So there is always pressure to put together an elaborate wedding with committees being set up, monies being raised or loans are taken because to some this is an investment and the gifts are the returns. You have heard of the recent cases of couples committing suicide because they took out a loan to finance the wedding only to receive nothing as gifts. Imagine starting a new chapter such as this with a huge loan to pay. Enough of the Kenya wedding breakdown because the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted this and to many like me, it was a relief because you did not have to deal with all of the above.

The drama started the day or week before. We were doing the last-minute rush to get the final touches for the wedding done. The best man's coat could not fit while some of the bridesmaid's dresses had not been fully completed. My mum's dress was also not ready because we had that experience of, what you send the tailor as a design and what he makes are worlds apart followed by endless unpicked calls and excuses. The favourite Kenyan tailor phrase being “just give me a day and I will be done”. That could easily turn to a year. All’s well that ends well. We were lucky that the drama came to pass. 27th November was a cold morning. I remember because it had drizzled and there was a bit of mist. We were all dressed and ready for the day. When I say we, I meant the groomsmen and grooms women. Yes, I had grooms women at my wedding. I remember a lot of people asking me what I meant by grooms women. My lovely cousins said they could not be left out and had to be part of the lineup. I could not say no to that and boy oh boy dint they rock their navy blue dresses. By the way, they are all single. Just send me an email with a one-page summary cv for the application together with a Kshs 5,000 processing fee. On the wedding morning, the brides' side had another episode of one day drama. The best lady’s dress developed an issue and had to be quickly fixed. I had to hold my breath and just wish that all goes well. At that point, I’d had it with these dresses and local tailors. Kenyan tailors have a bad culture of taking shortcuts and over-promising while under-delivering. We however managed to go through that hurdle again and the church ceremony began.

One thing about this drama is that it brought two human beings together who met in church while singing in the choir. For those that doubt if I can sing there you have it. She liked me because of my bass and no one can say anything contrary to that. We hope to sing ourselves through this lifetime ministry as we create new memories.

Daniel Mainye

Key highlights for this awesome one day drama:

In this lifetime have friends and family that will drop everything to come and celebrate with you both in good and bad times. Our friends and family came through for us. We had no committees, but we received overwhelming support that made the day soo beautiful that we forgot all about the drama. Our family from abroad were able to zoom in and even give speeches. Indeed, it was a COVID wedding or do I say zoom wedding. A great thank you to the Movenpick Hotel team, especially to Patricia Mwangi. You went over and beyond to make this day beautiful.

Never say never. It's very easy to give up during this process because it is not just the two of you that are involved in the planning. You have your family that have a say, the church, even the government. The number of trips we had to make to Kisii and Nakuru is countless. For some of those trips, we had to leave Nairobi at 5 pm i.e. after working hours just to make it on time. Several times I felt like calling it quits and just going to the Attorney General’s office and signing the damn marriage certificate but one profound message from my pastor, Pr. Owuor changed it. That doing a church wedding means a lot because you get to honour God, your parents and the church. That is important for those that believe in God.

Be ready to disagree. You will not be on the same page with your fiancée on a lot of things. We all wanted a simple and intimate wedding. What I did not realise is that the word simple and intimate means different things to both sides. Simple decor to me was a table arrangement like a typical conference meeting while to her it meant round tables with centerpieces, chairs dressed in rose gold and white, backdrops and luxe seats. Yes, I now know about luxe seats. The beauty about it though is that at the end of the day you learn when to compromise and when to complement. It is never that serious.

Dance your heart out. Hey, it is a one day drama. We might as well dance through it. I never knew how important this was to my mum who that day had an issue with her leg but I guess she said let me dance this one out. I shall see the doctor tomorrow to fix the damage. Even the old folks understand YOLO “you only live once” when it comes to such ceremonies. I also didn't know church member especially from Seventh Day Adventist “SDA” could dance like that since all the SDA songs have only one dance move that involves waving the hand and making loads of about-turns.

The moment that stole all our hearts was my niece walking down the aisle with a placard saying “Every love story is beautiful but ours is my favourite”. She is an influencer now, and I can link you to her agent who happens to be me for booking. Maybe I will do a vow renewal ceremony and have one of my own do that as well.

 

One thing about this drama is that it brought two human beings together who met in church while singing in the choir. For those that doubt if I can sing there you have it. She liked me because of my bass and no one can say anything contrary to that. We hope to sing ourselves through this lifetime ministry as we create new memories. For those still waiting to do 600+ wedding remember this saying from a wise man. In this COVID period, a lot has happened and disrupted the plans that we had but the couples that wanted to get married did get married. The ones who want a wedding are still waiting. What category are you in?

Let me go and practise my bass. It’s what is keeping this marriage or do I say lifetime ministry together.

Credits to:

Photography, Videography and Livestream: Asaa Photography (0727400374)

Makeup: Nimo (0711954416)

Groom and Best Man Senator Suits: Za Afrika (0731166272)

Venue and Food: Movenpick Hotel Patricia (0722435915)

Bride’s Dress: Genise Bridal (0725405291)

Hair Dressing: Jackie from Posh Palace (0722944008)

Décor: Milele Eventique (0725254141)

Cake: Café Deli (0728100814)

Music: DJ Kirah (0711590604)

The broken mirror of influential people

This week we have been entertained and brought to question what goes on in Buckingham Palace or what it means to be a royal. Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah brought out a lot of issues that the couple went through while being royals however the two issues i.e mental issues and racism took center stage for many. We had several news outlets and blogs echo these sentiments but what caught my attention was the fact that it was a serious conversation because it came from royals. Evidence has shown that the number of people who seek mental health support increases after a celebrity discloses their own experiences with a mental health condition. That evidence right there is laughable and concerning. Mental health has been an issue for the longest time, heck it's been a trending topic during this pandemic period given the several cases of suicides and depression that have been reported but we don’t see it as an issue until an influential personality talks about it. Let me not get started about racism as the other issue that was brought to light, because, if you can remember well we had the Black Lives Matter movement after Floyd’s murder and several other conversations around the topic.

Food for thought. Do we have to wait for someone influential to speak about something for us to take it seriously or put measures against it? One in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. Around 450 million people currently suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide. In Kenya, it is estimated that one in every 10 people suffer from a common mental disorder. The number increases to one in every four people among patients attending routine outpatient services. Depression and anxiety disorders are the leading mental illnesses diagnosed in Kenya. Don't wait for someone influential to talk about it for you to take it seriously. Seek help. COVID19 pandemic has brought with it a tonne of challenges ranging from job loss, financial strain, etc. All of this can have a big impact on our mental health. If you start showing symptoms such as excessive paranoia, worry, or anxiety, long-lasting sadness or irritability, extreme changes in moods, social withdrawal, or dramatic changes in eating or sleeping patterns, don't keep quiet. Talk about it. Don’t wait for Jalango, Mutoko, or Prince Harry to say they are depressed for you to take it seriously. On a light moment though, one of the laughable things about all this is the fact that Meghan and Harry relocated to the US to get away from racism in Britain.

We don't have to wait for an influential person to speak about something for us to take it seriously and we also need to be extra careful about what the so-called influential people tell us to do

Daniel Mainye

On an opposite note, it is rumored that John Pombe Maghifuli was or is admitted to Nairobi Hospital over COVID-19 related complications. Whether or not it is true the fact is that he isn't feeling well. He has been a big crusader of the “There is no COVID-19 campaign”. Am sad it has reached this level for him to be taken ill by the same virus he says does not exist. If you ask me Mr Pombe knows COVID-19 exists. He was too deep in this lie that he never wanted to admit fault. Reminds me of my MBA class on strategic decisions and being cognizant of our own mental biases. In this case loss aversion bias. Also known as the endowment effect, loss aversion is a principle in behavioral economics whereby someone will work harder to keep something than they will to acquire it in the first place. If you need an example, being hesitant to fire a bad employee is a common one. You might think, "Well, I've already put so much time into training them, paying them, insuring them, and their performance isn't really THAT bad...I should see if I can salvage this." For Mr. Pombe, he was too deep in his lie and had spent a lot of time and resources convincing people that there is no virus to the extent of procuring herbal cures from Madagascar to try and salvage the situation instead of admitting he is wrong and allowing the experts to assist.

This president would rather die than admit that he was wrong and allow for measures to be put in place to save lives. How many more people need to die for Tanzanian leadership to realize that things are not normal? If it is true that he is in Nairobi for medical assistance then it's sad because not many Tanzanian citizens can afford to fly to Nairobi for special medical attention. To my Tanzanian brothers and sisters, COVID-19 is real, please mask up, sanitize and maintain social distance. Save your lives and those of your loved ones. Let no influential person lead you to your death. You have the power of choice.

In conclusion, we don't have to wait for an influential person to speak about something for us to take it seriously and we also need to be extra careful about what the so-called influential people tell us to do. Just look at yourself in the real mirror, not someone else's. The problem or solution existed even before the influential person spoke about it. The data and facts are out there and easy to access. Act now and let us normalize being real and stop living based on what influential people say.

 

Photo by Lance Grandahl on Unsplash

Photo by Fares Hamouche on Unsplash

My Friend Eneki

Her name is Joan Rita Eneki. She prefers being called Eneki because it is cool, unlike those other biblical names that make her sound like some elderly woman who would crush the skull of their child with a slipper because of stealing two pieces of meat from the dinner reserved for the “chamaa” guests.

I first met Eneki when she joined the firm as an intern. As corporate Kenya would have it, an intern is expected to be quiet, reserved and only speak when spoken to. If they were to meet the CEO in the lift they would prefer to take the stairs than be in the same lift with this person that has discovered the secret to life because they might suffocate him with their not so successful life. Eneki was the total opposite. Eneki is the type that will talk till the cows come home. She will debate with you on any topic and if you are the CEO in the lift she will ensure to get in and ask you questions such as what’s your vision for the firm for the next 5 years. Who does that? If I had time to dig deeper I am sure she was a constant in the noisemakers list in primary and high school.

As you would expect I was thoroughly grilled that day on what our vision for this new service design department would be. Given that it was a new initiative than none of us knew much about, we were all in the learning phase. Let me just say I was schooled. She spoke with a British accent and as you know we quickly assume this is someone who went to school in England, did their summer internship in Bain Consulting and does ice skating for leisure in Iceland. Maybe that is why she knew too much of this service design stuff so I assumed. I, therefore, had to be careful with my “Embarambara” (google is your friend”) English after all I was the supervisor and supervisors are meant to be super in everything. She would later go on to positively challenge our Technology Director on how we were going to run the service design internship class being an inaugural department in the firm. I was intrigued and wanted to know who this fearless young girl breaking boundaries and curving her space on the big table was.

Where do you go for humble brag achievements, stalking old or current coworkers, getting ego boost from recruiters or doing due diligence for tinder date? Your guess is right as mine. LinkedIn. Eneki is a graduate of Egerton University with a bachelor of arts in economics and sociology. Am sure you are wondering how speaking with an accent and Egerton are related. I don't have an answer to that. You might want to ask Eneki. At that point, I resolved that she could have been watching too much British Got Talent or Mind Your Language TV series. I have nothing against Egerton University but I doubt the British accent is a common course they offer.

As we celebrate women's day I would like to celebrate women such as Eneki that are breaking the glass ceiling and carving their space on the big table.

Daniel Mainye

Over time Eneki has taught me some lessons that I would like to share with you:

Don't settle for less: She has never been the type to let things slide or be walked all over. If she has an opinion she will voice it. Even when society expects her to be silent as an intern she decided not to conform. She stayed late at night to study and challenge her present status. She has been able to redefine herself in many ways. She uses her talent of accent to do voice-overs amongst many other things.

Know your stuff and know it well: She doesn't just debate for the sake. She ensures she has the facts at her fingertips. That shows a person that reads widely and keeps oneself updated on what's happening in her surroundings and especially the things that impact your professional growth. If she doesn’t know she will ask for time to go and research and when she is ready be prepared for a PowerPoint presentation because she is that detailed.

Don't be ashamed of who you are: She says she is an atheist. The construct of religion and belief in some superior being is something she doesn’t subscribe to. She nearly convinced me once to join her movement but every time the thought crossed my mind I pictured my old man calling for meetings with the church elders for prayers. Let's just say I chose to stick to my Christian beliefs.

Don't let an opportunity slide: Eneki studied economics and sociology, joined the firm to become a client services assistant, moved from that role to be amongst the first service design experts in the firm and by extension Kenya. Go ask around what service design is. She did not stop there. She then moved to run the innovation department and later taught herself to code. She is now a software engineer. If I remember well, for her to become a software engineer she had to split her time with her service design role. She would dedicate 60% of her time to service design functions and 40% to software development. She failed her software development project twice before she got it right. Talk of girl power.

Have fun while doing all this. This girl can party. I have evidence. I can't keep up with her energy. Expect her to always be the life of the party. She will be up all night having a few shots of her favourite drink and still make it to train new employees at 8 am the next day. She needs to share that secret.

I have learnt a lot from Eneki. As we celebrate women's day I would like to celebrate women such as Eneki that are breaking the glass ceiling and carving their space on the big table. Choosing to fight through the bureaucracy and societal politics to have their name stand for something. To Eneki keep soaring

Why E-commerce is still Struggling in Kenya and Opportunities in 2021

According to Shopify e-commerce, also known as electronic commerce or internet commerce, refers to the buying and selling of goods or services using the internet, and the transfer of money and data to execute these transactions. E-commerce is often used to refer to the sale of physical products online, but it can also describe any kind of commercial transaction that is facilitated through the internet.

 

According to the African Tech Startup Funding Report, 2020 by Disrupt Africa e-commerce contributed 13.9% to the total funded ventures. 2020 saw 55 e-commerce and retail-tech startups secure funding, a number that represented 13.9% of the total and was second only to fintech. It was also an increase of 77% on the 31 startups (10% of the total) that raised investment in 2019.

 

Fintech, e-commerce and e-health are the most developed spaces on the continent, and as such are seeing steady growth in terms of both funded ventures and total amounts raised. Fintech, e-commerce and e-health are the most developed spaces on the continent, and as such are seeing steady growth in terms of both funded ventures and total amounts raised. The African e-commerce and retail-tech sector have been among the continent’s most volatile for some years but now appears to be on a solid upward trajectory, based partly on the emergence of the retail-tech segment on the continent. Egypt was the leader, with 13 startups accounting for 23.6 %of the total. Kenya (12; 21.8%) and Nigeria (8; 14.5%) came second, and third, with South Africa lagging in fourth (7; 12.7%).

Kenya has one of the most vibrant e-commerce ecosystems in Africa and has shown steady growth. It has for instance provided an environment for the growth of small and micro-enterprises (SMEs) which are critical in the country’s economic development through their role in the production, creation of employment opportunities as well as contribution to exports. Some of the most popular e-commerce websites in the country include Jumia, Kilimall, Masoko, Avechi, and Skygarden. During the COVID-19 lockdown period, more businesses decided to open up online shops and the expectation was that e-commerce in Kenya will further accelerate and grow. However, despite the e-commerce businesses popping up in Kenya, uptake in Kenya remains low despite its immense benefits. According to the recently released United Nation’s Conference on Trade and Development’s Business-to-Consumer (B2C) e-commerce Index 2020, Kenya has taken the seventh position in a survey gauging the African countries’ preparedness to support online business. This a drop from position four in 2019 even after getting the bigger share of the e-commerce venture capital funding in 2020. Tunisia, Algeria, Ghana, and Libya trumped Kenya to take positions three, four, five, and six respectively. The drop was attributed to the rise in cases of cybercrime after Kenya’s score on secure internet servers dropped from 49 in 2019 to 46 in 2020 but better than 37 in 2018. 

Customers are starting to appreciate the power of e-commerce and we need to address the structural challenges to ensure we support the industry.

Daniel Mainye

The following factors and opportunities need to be considered towards improving the adoption of e-commerce in Kenya:

Cybersecurity: With rising cases of online fraud in the country, the government and by extension businesses need to implement robust measures towards addressing the gaps. The government needs to work on an open, interoperable, reliable, and secure internet to foster efficiency and innovation while respecting privacy and guarding against disruption. Cases such as this DCI urges vigilance in the face of increased online fraud can be avoided through constant cybersecurity education and implementing measures such as two-factor authentication, biometric etc. to prevent fraudsters from accessing customer online accounts.

Regulation and taxation: There is a need to have policies that govern the e-commerce industry. This will include things such as platforms to verify legitimate e-commerce business from those that are not. Currently, consumers don’t have a way to know who is running a legitimate business in Kenya hence easily falling prey to fraudsters. You just need to visit the Facebook page Buyer Beware to see how many Kenyans are falling prey to such businesses. On the other hand, in anticipation of a pick-up, the government introduced a 1.5% digital service tax on the value of transactions in the Finance Bill 2020 however this can only serve to be a stumbling block for SMEs that form a large part of the e-commerce market in the country. A review of this is needed to encourage more businesses to shift their models to online commerce which is the future.

Customer Service: Even the most established players in the market have been accused of bad customer experience ranging from delivering broken items, refusing to refund money in cases of lost items or just rude customer care agents. Customers would rather visit the store in person and view the product before purchasing. That alone kills the whole concept of e-commerce. This business model requires timely, empathetic and disruptive customer care that can be achieved through constant training and improvement.

 

Technology: Leveraging technology to reduce manual processes such as delivery and product sampling is needed in an e-commerce business. Currently, customers are forced to WhatsApp, make calls just to get the right specifications of products, something that can easily be accessed from a website or mobile app. The majority of these manual processes can be automated to make it easier for one to place an order and track it until it is delivered. Make it simple stupid to a point where a majority of your customers can perform a transaction without making a call.

 

Fintech: Leveraging available fintech solutions to make payments easier for customers. We have a culture in Kenya of paying for what we can see and that meets our specifications. Escrow solutions can be used to make it easier for buyers and sellers to complete such transactions. The seller is sure they will receive their money upon delivery and the buyer will receive their goods or services. This can be a great solution for SMEs that are still building confidence in the market. Solutions to make payment easier should be implemented to avoid a lot of the transaction costs consumers incur currently making payments to mobile wallets or transferring across multiple platforms.

 

Logistics Infrastructure: The majority of the well-established e-commerce platforms such as e-bay, amazon etc. depend on the postal systems in their countries for delivery. These are more established and effective postal systems that ensure the customer orders are delivered faster compared to the Kenya postal system that is still inefficient and managed by corrupt agents. Private businesses such as Sendy, Copia etc. have seen the opportunity and are trying to address this issue though slightly more expensive compared to if we were using the postal system.

 

COVID-19 has boosted online shopping due to lockdown restrictions and the desire to avoid contact and receive goods at home. The number of online shoppers has increased significantly with more demand for food delivery. As customers continue to move away from traditional physical channels, both the frequency with which they search and buy online increases. Customers are starting to appreciate the power of e-commerce and we need to address the structural challenges to ensure we support the industry. E-commerce will enable SMEs to lower costs, stay competitive and at the same time, go global by harnessing the power of the Internet and scale.

Hustler or Dynasty: Which one are you?

2022 election year is around the corner and the political rallies seem to be in full gear amidst a pandemic and a health ministry push for social distancing. The narrative this time round is Hustler or Dynasty. You are either one of those. Let’s do some definition to understand what the terms mean. According to Merriam Webster dictionary, a hustler is a person who hustles such as a) one who obtains money by fraud or deceit: scammer, swindler b) one who lures less skilful players into competing at a gambling game c) an athlete who plays with alert energy and aggressiveness or d) a male prostitute. If you were to ask me, I am none of the above and especially not a reflection of the last definition. As a verb, hustle can either mean to swindle someone or to hurry them, or to work hard. You can hustle someone out the door. If you hustle, you can earn good tips as a waiter. To the Kenyan political class, the word hustle means work hard. What then is a dynasty? It can mean any of the two a) a succession of rulers of the same line of descent or b) a powerful group or family that maintains its position for a considerable time born into a powerful political dynasty. The current political agenda is to box us into either of the two. Which one am I? We will get to that in a bit. In the meantime, walk with me through the countries various elections with the help of Africa News

 

The Kenyan African population voted for the first time in 1957 during the country’s legislative elections. The first elections in the British colony took place in 1920. This led to independence in 1964 and Kenyatta became the first President. Kenya was transformed into a one-party state in 1969 and KPU was banned leaving KANU as the only party that won all seats in 1969, 1974, 1979, 1983 and 1988 elections led by Kenyatta. Kenyatta died in office in 1978 and the presidency was continued by his vice president Daniel Arap Moi who became the second president. In 1992, President Moi restored multiple party politics after democratic pluralism swept through Africa. He won that year’s elections. President Daniel Arap Moi won the 1997 elections and groomed current president Uhuru Kenyatta to take over the presidency and continue his father’s legacy in 2002. Moi stood down in 2002 for Uhuru Kenyatta to stand. He led KANU to its first defeat to an opposition coalition led by Mwai Kibaki. The coalition fell apart and Uhuru backed Kibaki to win the 2007 elections against rival Raila Odinga who had unsuccessfully contested for the first time in 1997 after he returned from exile to take part in the country’s multi-party politics. The 2007 elections saw some 1,300 people killed and more than 600,000 displaced after violence that saw Uhuru Kenyatta and his running mate William Ruto indicted by the International Criminal Court in 2011 for incitement of the ethnic violence against Odinga’s supporters. Elections were held in 2013 under the new constitution in 2010 that was approved after a referendum. Uhuru Kenyatta defeated Raila Odinga, whose party won the most seats in the National Assembly. Kenya’s Supreme Court cancelled the August 8, 2017, presidential election on September 1, 2017, citing electoral irregularities after accusation of fraud by the opposition National Super Alliance (NASA) party led by Raila Odinga.

I would like a politician who truly believes they are not a dynasty by the definition above to cast the first stone. Your guess is as good as mine. One or two if none will be left standing.

Daniel Mainye

From the above analysis, you can conclude that Uhuru comes close to being related to a dynasty since the family has occupied the presidential seat for a longer period but is it a correct assumption?  There are 44 sovereign states in the world with a monarch as head of state, of which 42 are ruled by dynasties. There are currently 26 sovereign dynasties and Kenya is not amongst them. So, let’s call a spade a spade or at least what everyone is thinking, dynasties in the Kenyan English dictionary means someone who has stolen from the citizens and amassed wealth without regard to the well-being of those he or she is meant to serve and a hustler is he who has been stolen from.  The Bible in the book of John 8:7 says “But when they continued asking him, he lifted himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” I would like a politician who truly believes they are not a dynasty by the definition above to cast the first stone. Your guess is as good as mine. One or two if none will be left standing.

The recent happenings across the country as a result of this narrative have been pure vandalism and terrorism. I cry when I remember the happenings of 2007 because we killed each other in the name of a tribe. Families were displaced and sent into hiding because of tribal hatred. Do we want to go back there with such divisive politics? Isn’t the bigger responsibility to hold the political class accountable for their promises which by and large are to protect and build this nation to greater heights? That is the narrative we need to fight for each day not who is a dynasty and who is a hustler because the answer to that question we already know.

This is why my answer to which side I am on is none. I will do my solemn duty of holding the leaders we elect accountable for the promises they make and using my rights as a citizen to elect the right leadership based on their capacity to lead and not whether they are hustler or dynasty or they support the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI). We should not allow ourselves to be taken down that road because at the end of it we the citizens suffer. Haven’t we already had enough of this? The ball is in each and everyone’s court. Vote wisely when the time comes.

 

The Trend of Inclusive Finance

Financial technology innovations have forced a shift in traditional financial services paradigms and prompted large financial institutions to re-evaluate how they do business. The outsized impact that fintechs have had on the industry over the years has not only been disruptive, but quantifiable. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a game-changer for digital financial services. Low-income households and small firms have benefited greatly from advances in mobile money, fintech services, and online banking. Financial inclusion as a result of digital financial services can also boost economic growth. While the pandemic is set to increase the use of these services, it has also posed challenges for the growth of the industry’s smaller players and highlighted unequal access to digital infrastructure.

Great strides have been made toward financial inclusion and 1.2 billion adults worldwide have gotten access to an account since 2011. Today, over 69% of adults have an account. Moving from access to account to account usage is the next step for countries where 80% or more of the population have accounts (China, Kenya, India, Thailand). These countries relied on reforms, private sector innovation, and a push to open low-cost accounts, including mobile and digitally-enabled payments. With that in mind, here are five fintech and financial inclusion trends to keep an eye on.

Trend 1: Breaking the brick and mortar securely

Although fintech and big data have had an outsized impact on traditional banks, the microfinance sector has not been immune to the sea change effects that have resulted from the rise of these digital technologies. Traditional banking models, which rely heavily on profits earned from transaction fees and require customers to physically come to branches to do their banking, are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Such models are giving way to a new space carved out by fintech innovations, where customers can expect service providers to offer practical, clear-use products that cater to their needs; where making transfers, payments and remittances can be done without a fee and financial services can be accessed remotely on mobile devices.

Fintech innovations are bringing banking closer to where people live and work, and offering them more customised options. Despite their utility, innovative technologies do have some inherent flaws. In Kenya, for example, the growing popularity of digital credit accessed through mobile phone apps has brought with it increasing incidences of identity fraud. According to a recent report issued by MSC, rapid loan approvals and the ease of acquiring personal data are the key drivers of this trend. Additionally, clear guidelines governing privacy protection and sharing data are lacking in many markets that offer digital credit. Finally, in Kenya, the decreased costs of delivering digital credit at scale have not trickled down to the consumer and the interest rates offered by the various digital lenders on the market are erratic and are often not less than what traditional financial services providers offer.

Trend 2: Financial Industry Collaboration

Innovative fintech products are challenging the dominion traditional lending institutions have over others within the financial services sector and will continue to level the playing field within the industry. And while fintech organisations have been disruptive, they don’t have to be the death knell for banks. Quite the contrary – when fintech and banks collaborate, they can create impactful new financial products and channels that better serve existing clients and help expand outreach.

The reality is, banks need tech firms – especially when they can’t develop digital products and services in-house. Fintechs also need banking partners to reach their full potential, and they need them much more than many people realise. In many markets, a banking licence is needed to directly provide most financial services. This is something most fintech do not have. Even when a fintech manages to obtain a banking licence, providing loans from its balance sheet is a complicated process. Most fintechs don’t want to become banks. They want to be fintechs. Financial institutions provide stability, and they also have advantages in distribution, savings, customer experience and marketing that fintech firms struggle to replicate. Banks also know more about their customers because they have personal relationships with them.

At the end of the day, there is a huge opportunity to reach more people with digital finance. Collaboration helps seize that opportunity.

 

To build inclusive societies and address rising inequalities during and after the ongoing crisis, global and national leaders must close the digital divide across and within countries to reap the benefits of digital financial services

Daniel Mainye

Trend 3: Tech-Human Touch

No amount of digital technology can change the fact that financial inclusion is and always will be about people. That is why a delivery model that combines the efficiency of digital finance with the personal trust of in-person or “touch-tech” banking, is important. Rather than replacing branches and loan officers, touch-tech uses digital channels to foster relationships with customers. While frontline staff members are key players in providing services, leveraging digital technology to optimise processes helps frontline staff do their jobs better, leads to greater outreach, as well as better outcomes for the clients.

Today’s customers are looking for the next generation of financial service providers. In a global financial landscape that is constantly changing and innovating, financial organisations will need to continue to eschew traditional banking paradigms and think more creatively in terms of relationships. This means thinking outside the box culturally, technologically and operationally. For a financial organisation to be successful and thrive in markets that continue to see declines, shifting to a touch-tech service delivery model that combines fintech innovation with a human-centred approach to delivering impactful financial services is something that should not be overlooked.

Trend 4: Gender Inclusivity

Despite fintech’s successes, a gap remains for women, rural residents, and other underserved communities. For this reason, responsible financial institutions cannot rest on their laurels nor become complacent – there is more work to be done to improve financial inclusion for women and those who remain financially excluded. There are two major barriers to women’s financial inclusion that stand out.   The first of which is the digital gender gap that exists. Even when women own a mobile phone, they are generally less likely than men to connect to the internet, preventing them from reaping the full benefits of the technology. Secondly, the social and cultural barriers represent another major hurdle in the pursuit of financial inclusion. This problem is particularly acute in regions where deeply engrained patriarchal attitudes are commonplace.

Fintech needs to do a better job of closing this gender gap. For example, fintech innovations such as mobile and agent banking can be part of the solution, but they must be properly designed and targeted toward empowering women. Research shows that, thus far, fintech has been most effective at narrowing the gender gap in markets where women are already financially included to some degree. Where that isn’t the case, and where women face diminished access to technology and digital literacy training, these solutions are less empowering.

Trend 5: Wealthtech

A new wave is coming and that is wealthtech. An industry that was known as old school is waking up to the reality of convenience and disruptions by technology. The days of waiting for your investment to take a week to get to your account or fill volumes of forms to get an account is over. The Kenyan investment industry is seeing its historical profits disrupted by technology and regulations. Currently, the investments industry in Kenya remains very manual and should accelerate digitization and moving transaction to mobile / electronic. From Initial Public Offers (IPO), to Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A), to research and trading, investment firms are getting leaner, smaller, and reinventing their core businesses to keep up with innovations. The factors driving this include, mobile phone and internet penetration, mobile money penetration, and big data and research.

Some of the investment companies in Kenya e.g. Britam, Cytonn, CIC Group to mention a few have capitalized on this disruption to improve how they interact with their clients. They have done this through interactive mobile applications that enable their clients to invest, withdraw and transfer funds easily without manual intervention. Other firms have gone a notch higher and utilized the USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) platform to target the feature phone (a mobile phone that incorporates features such as the ability to access the Internet and store and play music but lacks the advanced functionality of a smartphone) users as they expand into the retail market space.

In these four trends, what are Kenyan banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) providers doing? Safaricom first led the industry with their innovative digital products MPESA in March 2007 and won great recognition from the market. Since then, from 2008, banks started to strengthen their core capabilities through digital transformation and launched unique digital services. While providing customer low-commission transaction and more services, they obtained customers with an amazing effect. Like KCB‘s VOOMA with Huawei, ABSA’s TIMIZA with Craftsilicon, NCBA’s Mshwari with Huawei, SC MOBILE with Craftsilicon, Cytonn App with Eclectic and Safaricom. The list is long.

As I close, the pandemic shows that the trend towards greater digitalization of financial services is here to stay. To build inclusive societies and address rising inequalities during and after the ongoing crisis, global and national leaders must close the digital divide across and within countries to reap the benefits of digital financial services. This means finding the right balance between enabling financial innovation and addressing several risks: insufficient consumer protection, lack of financial and digital literacy, unequal access to digital infrastructure, and data biases that need action at the national level; as well as addressing money laundering and cyber risks through international agreements and information sharing, including on antitrust laws to ensure adequate competition. It’s time for banks to make full use of our core capabilities to win the competition during digital transformation and accelerate inclusive finance development.

 

Photo by Sean Pollock on Unsplash

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

The blessings of COVID-19

When you hear COVID-19 and pandemic, the thought of blessings does not come to mind. What comes to mind is death, job loss, unpaid leave, pay cuts, economy going down, 38’ fever, sanitize, social distance and I can go on and on. Nothing rosy about a virus and pandemic. All you see is despair and everything that has gone wrong. I was taught to see opportunities in disasters. Life in itself has so many unfortunate circumstances but as they say, we make lemonade out of it. This pandemic has thrown all rules we once followed out the window. People are off their normal routine, and they’re liking it. They have embraced working remotely. The artificial fears and barriers people had before – “We can’t do this,” “That would never be an option,” “We will have to approach this slowly” – are all gone. There are five areas that COVID-19 has particularly blessed.

Family

Family dynamics have changed during this pandemic period. The fact that the majority of people have been working from home and there is movement restriction as a result of the curfew, we are getting to spend more time with our families. When the pandemic started and the restrictions were announced, the party people could not imagine how they can be in the house as early as 7 pm but this meant that they can now come home before the children are asleep as was the case before. This has however affected some marriages which were founded on seeing each other in the evening for a few hours then sleep. The longest they stayed together was during the weekends but even that a big part was spent outside entertaining one another, hence they don’t know how to keep conversations going for 7 days in a row now that they are forced to stay at home. I hope counselling business is booming during this time to address such issues if not then lawyers are smiling due to the increased divorce cases. God forbid. In a recent study, four in five parents believed the coronavirus lockdown has brought their family closer together. A poll of 2,000 adults found the extra time at home, without the distraction of school and extra-curricular activities, gives mums, dads and kids more of an opportunity to bond. Just under two thirds (62 per cent) believe the crisis has made their children more 'community-minded', with 53 per cent going out of their way to help friends and neighbours. Despite the dreadful toll the pandemic is taking, people are becoming more thankful for the small pleasures in life such as family.

Health

I can’t remember ever scrubbing my hands and face this hard and drinking a lot of ginger, lemon, garlic and turmeric before this pandemic. Today this is the norm; you leave the house with some small bottle of sanitizer and mask, every shop you visit there is a tank of water and soap placed outside and is compulsory for you to wash your hands before getting in and when you get back home you dump all the clothes and shower immediately.  A short dash out of the house to pick groceries will end up with a thirty-minute bath when you are back. The stress of coming back to these showers makes people not go out in the first place. The result of this is that we have fewer infections. Can you imagine the solution to a lot of our health issues is, sanitizing, washing hands, masking and social distancing?  How many times have you been ill in the last six months? Am sure its once or twice and could be the first initial days of the pandemic when anything felt like a coronavirus symptom. I remember sneezing or coughing in public was a taboo. People looked at you with all manner of judgement as if you were the patient zero. You would cough a little bit and immediately rush to drink a whole 10 litres of “dawa” (ginger, turmeric and lemon). This pandemic has led to reduced hospital volume and could be related to how we manage stress. Life has slowed down, and this may reduce the effects of stress for many. Increased anxiety and more smoking and drinking would have the opposite effect and increase the risk of hospitalization which has drastically reduced during this period with bars closed and nowhere to go plus you are working from the comfort of your home.

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.

Winston Churchill

Expense Management

With reduced income, it means you have to cut down on a lot of things however with the pandemic that reduced income wasn’t the only reason for reduction of expenditure but also the fact that the options to spend were drastically reduced. For example, if you were used to travelling a lot or enjoyed the Nairobi nightlife every weekend, this was brought to a standstill with curfews and cancellation of air travel. People started working from home so that meant the cash spent on fuel or commute was now not being used. With kids indefinitely at home, pizza nights were scaled down to ensure we can afford a decent meal every day as long us Prof. Magoha still insists that schools reopen in January 2021. So with the reduction in income as well as the minimal spending options, many have been able to survive the rough waters of this pandemic. I am pleasantly surprised that I have been able to survive for the last 6 months all thanks to COVID-19 and thinking without the box.

Savings and Investment

The term investment is one that I had to explain several times to a few friends before COVID-19 for them to understand. Money market funds, government bonds etc. were foreign concepts that were only heard in the business section of 9 pm local news. Majority of us lived the life of YOLO before the pandemic and setting money aside for the future was not something we thought about. Now I don’t even need to explain investment anymore. One of them said, “I always postponed this thing of investing till now and I have realized I was actually living payroll to payroll.” The pandemic has forced the majority of people to learn the hard way the need to save and invest for a stress-free future. We are seeing a trend where people are paying themselves first before thinking of spending. They say you never value something till you lose it. We are all valuing saving and investing more during this time because we don’t have money flowing as it used to. Hoping this savings and investment culture continues post-COVID. Time will tell but am liking it so far.

Learning New Skills

With more time on our hands now that we are home the whole day and nowhere to go, it meant starting new hobbies or finishing that book that you kept putting off much easier. For me, it has been starting a blog and writing about my experiences for the world to read. I have also been able to learn more about product design and web development. If you’re stuck at home as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, then chances are you’re probably on the lookout for something to do. While jigsaw puzzles and video games can be a fun way to get through a few hours of the day, there are several other ways to pass your time in lockdown more effectively. Whether it be a new skill you have always wanted to learn or an old hobby you’ve been meaning to pick back up again, now is the perfect time to busy yourself and make your time in self-isolation worthwhile. My isolation has been worthwhile so far and I have learnt new tricks that have become treasures.

It might be the furthest thing from your mind right now, but remember that times of challenge are our best growth opportunities. We’re all being pushed to learn and do things differently now. Creating opportunities — even very small ones — can go a long way toward helping us move forward. As it is said, tough moments don’t last but tough people do. We are going to overcome this and look back with a smile on how far we have grown. Let's meet on the other side.

 

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Photo by Aljoscha Laschgari on Unsplash

Why I decided to have meaningful friendships

We all love music. Heck if you don’t then there is something wrong with you. Music acts as food for the soul rejuvenating it, filling it with energy and vitality. Music is fun, relaxing, motivating and energizing. However, how many of us sit down and take time to internalize the lyrics of songs they are jamming to apart from religious folks who have church screens displaying the lyrics as they sing hence get to understand. This weekend I got to sit back and read the lyrics of the jam “I took a pill in Ibiza”. It reminded me of the concept of friendship and what that means.

I believe in no man or woman is an island and to progress in this world you need a few confidants that you can speak to when things are thick and when they are thin. To me friendship is like a marriage, that’s why we say its best that you marry your friend. Just like marriage, friendships require you to commit, create time for them and evaluate whether they are working on not. Give it some key performance indicators to be evaluated on and review. Growing up I did not take time to create lasting friendships because the majority of those I believed were my friends fell in the category of circumstantial. These are friendships I formed with people from school or work, or as neighbours, but after the circumstances changed then it was difficult to maintain them.

A turning point for me came in 2012 when I had to admit myself in hospital for a heart condition that I did not know I had and discharged myself a week later with no one knowing I was actually in the hospital all that time. Being diagnosed with such a terminal illness with no one to speak to, gave me a wake-up call that I could die and no one would know.  It took some deep search to understand the true meaning of friendship. Getting to a point where you look at yourself in the mirror and say to yourself, “I have no friends”, is never an easy journey. It’s one that demands brutal honesty from an individual, involving the evaluation of life you might not want to truly see. 

The current COVID-19 pandemic has been an eye-opener to many on who to actually to call a friend and those you need to reevaluate. I have seen people sleep outside and say none of their friends picked their calls when they needed help the most. I have heard people go without food and resort to public social media groups to seek any help. Do you want to tell me these people did not have friends that they could call for assistance? Mike Posner in I took a pill in Ibiza illustrates a different dimension of a young guy with all the money but no friends. They resort to drugs as a way of hiding from the bitter truth. “You don't wanna be high like me, Never really knowing why like me, You don't ever wanna step off that roller coaster and be all alone, You don't wanna ride the bus like this, Never knowing who to trust like this, You don't wanna be stuck up on that stage singing, Stuck up on that stage singing”. With all the money and fame, he doesn’t want to leave like that where you don’t know who to trust or ride the bus with so you resort to other ways of numbing the reality that you are all alone. You don’t need friends because you are poor or rich. Friends are a support system. An essential component of existence. One that makes this tough life we live bearable.

There are four types of friendship styles discovered by a team of German psychologists, led by Martina Mich. First is the discerning friendship style where you have a few very close friends. Emotional closeness is high and the friendships tend to last a long time. We all want to be in this group. Second is the independent friendship style where the friends are often circumstantial because they were formed with people you know from school or work. We confuse a lot of these friends to be discerning and always end up disappointed. The third is the selectively acquisitive friendship style where you tend to have friendships of varied duration — some last decades; others are more fleeting and circumstantial. 

My experience in 2012 taught me to keep my circle of friends smaller, tighter and build a deeper connection with them to a point when I needed help I would not hesitate to call them.

Daniel Mainye

Selectively acquisitive people, however, are somewhat choosy about which friendships they maintain over long periods of time, as compared to unconditionally acquisitive people. Lastly, there is unconditionally acquisitive friendship style that has the highest number of people according to the research. Although the emotional closeness differs from friend to friend, it is, on average, relatively low in this group. There’s also a wide range of friendship duration in this group. Overall, this group is more about socializing than emotional support. The reason for it being the largest is we are accustomed to looking for social support as an immediate need. Where can we go for drinks this weekend, or can we go and have a night out in Naivasha? However, all of these crumbles when emotional support is needed. Which group do you fall in?

There are many reasons why one might have no friends. Think about the following, and ask yourself if any of these have affected your old or potential friendships: 

Temperament: You are naturally uncomfortable or shy around new people, making them uncomfortable

Insecurity: You don’t feel like you offer enough to be a good friend to others

Preference: You are an introvert, and you simply prefer being alone most of the time

No Experience: You have never had to exercise your social skills much, so you don’t know how to act around people

Disabilities: Whether physical, mental, or psychological issues, you have something holding you back from participating in the world like most people

Communication Problems: Your intentions do not match how other people perceive them. You do not know how to communicate properly, making people wary or unsure about you

Time: You don’t have the time to build relationships that others value

Whatever the reason might be for not having friends, it isn’t necessarily as big a problem as the world might make you think. For some people, the lack of friends is simply a preference, and the ache to have people around us isn’t as noticeable. However, I would urge you to reconsider since no man or woman is an island. We will need people around us that we can depend on. Having more friends will never make you worth, having few friends who stand behind you in your success and stand in front of you against your problems only matters. Caroline Mutoko during one of the Engage Kenya sessions, talks about time, life and how they are not promised. At the end of the talk that was around a tragic experience she had with a close friend who she kept postponing meeting invites till there was no more time, she shares the greatest lesson learnt, which is to keep her circle smaller and tighter and make time to have a meaningful engagement. That’s the secret of keeping friendships for long. Making time to build them.

So whatever category you fall in the friendship styles, the most critical thing to remember is how important it is to maintain at least one or two quality relationships with friends whom you can call on when you need them. My experience in 2012 taught me to keep my circle of friends smaller, tighter and build a deeper connection with them to a point when I needed help I would not hesitate to call them.

 

Photo by Kevin Gent on Unsplash

Photo by Hannah Rodrigo on Unsplash

Daniel

Nyoka is my name

Nyoka, an interesting name to give an African child not considering the torture he will go through growing up. From primary school, I have been called different species of the snake kingdom, from black mamba, python, cobra and recently friend just make the hissing sound “ssssssss” because saying anaconda is too mainstream. Maybe it's because “sijakonda” (not slim). I have to emphasize though that I don’t prefer being called Nyoka loudly in public. The first and last time this happened I was sitting next to a tree with a group of churchmates waiting to play soccer. This classmate of mine approaches yelling my name from far and pointing at me. Since my churchmates did not know my third name then, you can imagine how they sprinted for their lives. You could think they are running to ask Eve to come and pick her friend who she left behind at the tree of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.

When I got to know my real name in class eight of primary school, I made an effort to educate people to pronounce it the right way. The “o” in Nyoka is prolonged according to my parents. So you say “Nyooooka” but I guess this just brought more confusion and attention to the name. So the name-calling continued. Everyone endeavored to be unique in the nickname they gave me. It was as if they had trademarks to these names because no one else dared to copy and speak.

At a certain point I started asking around for the legal process to change my name, but being a 12-year old kid, living in a sugar cane plantation, who had to carry a basin of “Sukuma Wiki” on his head every day of the week after class, to generate Kshs 20 (Kshs 20 was a lot of money then), this was not something that was going to happen. My elder brother, however, managed to get away with it when he intentionally used a nickname in his KCPE exam papers forcing my parents to add it in his birth certificate otherwise his marks would have been canceled. Knowing my parents I doubt he got away with it.  He must have been served several strokes of the famous black “nyaunyo” (whip) that single-handedly kept us in check growing up. Its hiding place was never known.

I want to leave a mark in the Universe and seize the bull by his horns while implementing all that I’ve learned from the deeper holes that I have dug. I’ve become skilled at a whole heap of tricks-n-treasures; thus filling my bottomless basket with treats full of passion (and a SOLUTION driver of some fashion). In other words: I take action, am a Daniel-of-all-trades

Daniel Mainye - Brand Statement

If you can’t beat them, join them. Am sure you are very conversant with that saying. I had to embrace this name otherwise I would grow up to be a very bitter kid lashing out on anyone that called me anything other than my other nicer names. I, therefore, started learning about snakes.

Did you know most snakes are harmless to humans, but developing a healthy fear of them has kept our ancestors from getting squeezed to death or suffering a painful—and occasionally lethal—bite. But we may want to fight this ingrained phobia. (I mean, who needs it anyway since some of us spend the weekend tucked safely in our homes watching Snake Man?) And we should definitely rethink our urge to kill these reptiles—if only because they help keep us safe from another scary biter: the tick. That’s right, a recent study finds that snakes help halt the spread of Lyme disease. I know you have not been moved even a little by this statement. The fear of snakes is real. I think am scared of my own name.

Am not here to give you a lecture on snakes but who Daniel is.  So as my brand statement goes “I want to leave a mark in the Universe and seize the bull by his horns while implementing all that I’ve learned from the deeper holes that I have dug. I’ve become skilled at a whole heap of tricks-n-treasures; thus filling my bottomless basket with treats full of passion (and a SOLUTION driver of some fashion). In other words: I take action, am a Daniel-of-all-trades”.

I strive to be different and bold, to always speak what’s on my mind. I put on suspenders and bow ties and sometimes colored khaki pants during the week something that made me the first employee to earn a record verbal warning for dress code within three weeks of my employment. Colour brings out life and I love life. Am a cartoon because laughter is the best medicine and my stress-relieving mechanism. Whenever you hear people laughing, Daniel aka python must be around that group. I feel at home in organizations that have a combination of crazies that believe they can change the world. Is there a better place to be for a corporate crazy like me who still dreams that one day he will have wings and supernatural powers, other than amidst a group of his own?

Daniel

That is the true Daniel Mainye Nyoka aka Python. I warmed up to that one “Python”. Always learning to be better than I was yesterday, striving to make a difference and create a legacy that will live long after am gone. To defer odds and make the world I stay in, a better place than I found it. In a way, I am a true snake.

Debt Management and Investing during COVID-19

I know we have all had this conversation about debt and financial planning with ourselves during this pandemic period to a point you do not want to hear it anymore but I am here to remind you again. Tell you what, you already know much of what am going to say but I will repeat all the same as we need to survive COVID-19 especially in our financial health.

When COVID was declared a global pandemic most firms had to cut down on costs just to survive. This meant layoffs, staff taking pay cuts, going on unpaid leave or taking no pay at all, simply volunteering. Before all this, we had five categories of people. Those that saved a lot because they had complimentary income, those that saved a little for a rainy day as they had only this one job, those that survived payslip to payslip, those that survived hand to mouth and eventually those that were on negative every end of the month. All these five people have been affected by the current environment except for the #covid19millionares. The ones that were saving are still doing but not as they did before. The payslip to payslip and hand to mouth are either in the negative category or finding it hard to survive. I don’t want to imagine what the guy who was already in negative is going through right now. There is hope though if we realize the abnormal times and start taking actions to ensure next time if we ever end up in such a situation we are ready for it.

If you were already on negative or are getting into negative territory due to debt here are few actions you can take to make life bearable during this time:

Restructure your loan: Cash is king right now. Visit your bank and agree on how you can get a loan holiday until things change for you. If you are still having some money coming in at the end of the month try to pay a little to offset the loan, if not then let the bank know so that you are given time to put things in order. Remember postponing the loan does not mean you will not pay and interest is accruing so if you can offset whenever you get some money coming in please do so to avoid a huge financial obligation later.

Take a longer payment plan: This will reduce the monthly cash outlay and give you some breathing space until things get better and when they do you can get back to the normal plan. The plan is no to default on payment. The faster you can pay and clear the loan the better for you. So if you had one year to pay you can ask for another 3 years and when things become better you can always clear the payments.

Combine loans if you have multiple: If you have multiple loans in different financial institutions you can combine into one as it helps with minimizing the interest you have to pay at the end of the month. When COVID happened my Sacco ran an offer to combine loans 5 times your deposits. This meant one could get off multiple bank loans at 14% and combine into one at 12%. Such opportunities give relief as you figure out your finances.

Stop borrowing. Just stop: This isn’t the best time to borrow because you don’t know what tomorrow holds. If you have an appetite for the 364% p.a interest digital loans this is the time to get your addiction in check or Kenyan police will do. Loan sharks on steroids is a no go zone before, during and after COVID-19. Stop using your credit card for unnecessary purchases. If you cannot control yourself, ask a friend to take the card and cut it into two.

No matter what your situation, there is never a better time to act or improve than right now.

Daniel Mainye

By applying these strategies you will gradually get out of negative and end up in the payslip to payslip territory or hand to mouth. This is a better position but no the best. Still some work to be done.

Reduce your spending: When income goes down you cannot expect the expenses to remain the same. They have to reduce as well. It means if you were in a 20k house its time to look for a 10k house. There is no shame in scaling down. Your peers don’t pay your rent or food. They can laugh at you now and that is fine. You understand where the pocket hurts most and they don't. During this time what is more important is the basic needs. Food, shelter and clothing. Clothing is on the bottom of the list, so priority is food and shelter. The rest is good to have.

Seek alternatives: If you used to buy bread at Kshs 50 for breakfast, you can survive on Kshs 20 mandazi for the time being. Boil water in the house and drink. The days of bottled water from the supermarket are on pause. Seek a cheaper alternative to what you need because that allows you to save up a little bit of money for a rainy day.

Look out for bargains: This is the time to buy anything on offer and this am talking about essential items, not a new car or new phone. If you used to ignore the latest offers counter in the supermarket, you now need to camp there. Again any chance to save money right now you go for it. Am not saying buy expired goods or bad quality items so that you save.

Renegotiate your rent: This is dependent on the type of landlord or management company you have. Plead your case and see what they can offer as a relief. Worst case is that they say no to your request so it does not hurt to ask. We have seen good landlords give relief to tenants during this period. Its called Ubuntu meaning humanity. If you are one of them reading this, please consider. If you have then be blessed. You have saved a life.

Reformulate your budget: At the end of it all come up with a revised budget that takes care of all the essential expense lines and highlights the various sources of income. Balance it off and understand how much you shall be setting aside moving forward.

Finally, you have something that you are saving due to the debt management strategies you have deployed and budgeting. Its time to invest and slowly start building your wealth. In such an environment it is advisable to focus on low-risk investments that assure you of capital preservation. Examples include money market funds, government bonds, bank deposits etc. You need a place where you earn a yield and have access to the funds instantly just in case you need them. Investing requires a lot of discipline. I recently came to learn that setting money aside to buy a phone or go for a long-needed vacation is not saving. That is postponed expenditure. I hope you will not have a lot of this in your list of investment objectives. Reevaluating your emergency fund is critical. If you can set aside at least 6 months of your income then you would be at a better position to deal with any pandemic thrown at you.

Evaluating how we’re managing our money is particularly timely post-COVID-19. When the economy is booming and the paychecks roll in, it’s tempting to believe we can keep doing what we’ve always done. But when the music stops, many are desperately wishing they had gotten their finances in order and saved some emergency cash to weather the pandemic before it hit. No matter what your situation, there is never a better time to act or improve than right now. My top priority is simply to help educate and see people succeed. So let’s get to learning.

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