Home Money & Business How Nairobians make and spend their money

How Nairobians make and spend their money


Making honest money is hard, but spending it is easy.

Yesterday I toured Githurai market and saw that it was growing, and growing very fast. Even though the market is naturally full, there is something striking about it – and all other highly populated markets in the city. By the time the sun was going down, the entire place was full of open air cafes and roadside grocers with their fruits and vegetables in carts ready to close the final sale.

Three women frying fish in one line just next to the matatus, a man rolling doughnuts on a table as he calls for customers: “doughnuts ten ten” and many others who are selling various items.

Money is plenty in the city, and this is why entrepreneurship has also taken root here. As my friend usually says, you are either selling something or being sold to. Money is always changing hands in the city, and you are either receiving or giving it away. Yes, every entrepreneur makes money from other people – whether legitimately or illegitimately, and Nairobians are no exception.

The above examples are legitimate ways people make money in the city. But there are also muggers, carjackers, professional beggars, corrupt government officials and fraudulent dealers who take money from others by force. Has anyone ever told you: “Nimeshikwa nitumie elfu mbili nilipe nitarefund nikitoka,” and that became their parting shot? Let’s leave that for another day.

Though Nairobians make money from others, they often spend it on themselves. Life has become hard and virtue diminished to the extent that givers have cut all forms of charity. There are those who spent all their money on bills (and this is the largest percentage). Others cannot even afford to meet their basic needs. But those who have ventured into entrepreneurship at least have some loose cash to spare, which they spend in chamas, beer, big cars and other luxuries. Save for the few beggars who sneak into bars in the evening to entertain women – yes, some men still spend theirs on twilight girls. But there is no denying that a big number of city dwellers are spending their money on gambling.

As you find ways to create wealth, also create strategies to spend it. Always start with end in mind. Ask yourself questions such as: “If I made 1 million today, what will I do with it?” Then create a plan and start looking for the money.

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