Significant sacrifices mama mboga makes that keep us going, things would be different without her

In the midst of the frenetic chaos due to the marauding Coronavirus, I’ve had my heart heavy with guilt.

That rarely happens. A similar feeling befell me once in a matatu, to town. Am sitting on the first seat, next to the door. It’s a semi dark 14-seater van – as loud as they come. There’s a young lady sitting in front – passenger seat – next to the driver. She has a bare elbow on the open window frame.

It’s early, and as chilly as a witch’s tit. To add pepper to an already peppered sauce, chilly wind is blasting through at a hundred miles an hour, straight to my face. (Rongai matatus’ hardly follow the standard Michuki rules).

I lean forward and tap the young lady, on the shoulder. She has earphones on. I need that window wound up, lest my modest foundation is blown dry off my face. Or, Lord Almighty, chip my Rihanna lipstick.

Aside: Dear reader, how does someone use earphones in a matatu blasting thousands of decibels?

Anyways, she ignores my tap. I lean forward and shout in her ear: CLOSE THE WINDOW! She flinches like a girl does at the sight of a roach, but ignores.

I tap her again, on the alternate shoulder. She doesn’t look up – but thrusts a note in my direction, and holds. In the dim light, I can faintly see a crisp 500 shilling note. She had mistaken my tap on the shoulder as the Kenyan Conductor-Speak for ‘Pay up!’

I do three things in perfect sequence: Take the note. Settle back on the seat. Look around. Half the load is napping, or scrolling their phones. I beckon the conductor (who’s mostly hanging half-out of the vehicle) to make a stop. I alight.

Most people riding high on the moral ladder wouldn’t have taken the Kes.500 note. But in my case:

  1. I haven’t lately held a spot on the moral ladder higher than the height of my knee.
  2. This is Nairobi – and the streets are what they are. She’d have done the same, right?
  3. Karma had chosen me, a mere mortal, to serve justice. She was really mean.
  4. It was those Godforsaken dates, when we almost die of financial malnutrition. Mostly.

The guilt had almost killed me that week. I kept reminding myself just how mean the lady had been – I mean, she hadn’t cared if I went down with pneumonia.

Well, I’ve since taken a fairly huge slice of street charity to atone for it.

This week, though, I’ve been guilty for the indifferent manner I’ve been treating Mama Mboga. She deserves better. She’s been instrumental in my survival journey as I make do in this city.

Each morning at 5am, I pick hot Mandazi from her stand. Sometimes, I don’t even pay. Every other evening, I pick assorted boiled foods – Githeri, beans, Nduma – then grab some veggies. Sometimes, she’d be at her stand at 11pm, to feed our drunken bums.

She has aligned herself for the fight against Coronavirus. Other than scolding us to heaven-come to wash our hands at the stand, she declines cash. She prefers that we send money direct to her Co-op Bank account. She adds that it’s free!

I sent money from M-Pesa straight to her Co-op Bank account at NO CHARGE using the Paybill number 400200. I thought its empty talk, but, yes, its free! It’s then that I got to know her real name.

That’s the source of my guilt.

Mama Mboga is actually Rosemary. Just like my mum in the village. All these years, I haven’t known her real name! Ain’t that incredibly messed up?

As COVID-19 effects bite hard, here’s why should have your Visa card with you at all times

The Co-operative Bank has more good news for her customers. It seems the basket of festive goodies is just opening up. This festive season is geared to be a memorable one, as your banking partner continues to roll out services tailored for your needs and plus more pleasant surprises headed your way.

This season will be marked with a lot of movements, celebrations, family-get-togethers and vacations. All of these social events are a prerequisite to lots and lots of shopping. For Co-op Bank customers, they get to enjoy unlimited use of their Co-op Visa Card to pay for goods and services in all points of sale like supermarkets, malls, fuel stations, at the movies, event tickets, travelling tickets and hotel bookings, etc.

What’s more, the Co-op Visa Card has NO additional charges. Yes, that’s right. The client does not incur an additional charges for paying with the Co-op Visa Card.

The Co-op Visa Cards are accepted globally at all Visa merchants. It’s the perfect and convenient way to shop online.

It’s mind-blowing when one thinks of the convenience offered by the ‘No Additional Charges’ proposition. There’s no longer the need or urgency to visit the ATM in the pursuit of cold hard cash when you can swipe away your bills. Furthermore, you are able to manage risks associated with handling, moving physical cash thus shields Co-op Bank customers from the risks associated with liquid cash.

Need to re-fuel? Use the Co-op Visa Card. Need to renew a subscription like utility bills and other recurring bills? Just use the Co-op Visa Card. And it doesn’t attract additional charges. When travelling with friends and family, remember to carry the visa card and stay clear of cold hard cash – lest mugging, and other unfortunate incidents that are prevalent during these festivities. And, furthermore, it’s more convenient to make bookings online from the relative comfort of your homes, offices … easily paid for through the Co-op Visa Card.

Aside: It oozes of knowledgeable class and sophistication. It’s a big deal, for instance, when treating your significant other at a restaurant, how one pays for the meal. Co-op Visa Card is cleaner, sleeker and hassle-free.

Remember to carry along your Co-op Visa Card. It’ll take you places, with no additional dents to your bank balance in the form of transactional fees.

Happy Holidays! Indulge responsibly and stay safe.

In the village, I’m afraid talkative Grandma is running out of fables and moral stories to entertain us!

The clarion call ‘Work from Home If You Can’ was a timely first, for our government. The face of the marauding Covid-19 virus became uglier, still, when schools and colleges had to close.

The general mood in college instantly grew grave: Yaani, hii kitu ni serious hivi?

Well, its family tradition to ship to the village when school closes. The family home is also better suited for ‘Social Distance’. The epidemic was just beginning to show its fangs locally but we already knew the secrets to combat it:

Wash hands frequently with soap and clean water, or alcohol-based sanitizers. Maintain social distance. Avoid contaminated surfaces, or items. If been in contact with someone who’s been fore-exposed, practice self-isolation for a fortnight – and present yourself for tests at a medical facility.

However, my brother and I hadn’t figured out some few aspects. Our maternal grandmother, for instance.

Grandma will tentatively make octogenarian this Easter. That hallowed weekend ranks higher than Xmas, in her calendar.

How do we explain the national hullabaloo surrounding this new epidemic? She’s very affectionate – likes hugging and petting her grandkids, especially her namesake. Won’t she take ‘social distancing’ as mildly offensive?

She ain’t lost on the trending bits, luckily, through her ageless transistor radio tuned to our vernacular stations. But, still…..

In her 80 years, lots of calamities have befallen our land, including the infamous State of Emergency Declaration – but none banned attending church. Certainly, none led to closure of learning institutions. Actually, enterprising youth would enroll in colonial schools to evade calls to join the militia.

We did settle quite well. Grandma slowly grew into the groove, and found great amusement with the hand sanitizers. Though she felt odd squirting it into her palms after every hand shake, she got used to it. She also stopped shaking hands, altogether. If you have grandparents, you’ll appreciate how hard that is. That’s like admitting you’ve been doing it wrong for an entire life time.

The curfew brought some discomfort. Being indoors has been a new thing. Grandma has always regaled us with stories from her childhood. On everything, name it: the early Mzungu days, her courtship (mis)adventures, notable tragedies in the locality, et al. However, we’ve not had a holiday in the village longer than a week at a stretch.

I’m afraid our talkative Grandma is running out of stories to tell us!

For a decade now, the family has got into an Easter weekend tradition – it’s also celebration of her birthday. We make a birthday party and hand over gifts. This year, though, that’s not happening. We have to figure out something.

She’s given up all farm work, save for her kitchen garden – fenced with wooden planks – behind the house. It’s her personal space, a ‘No Man’s Land’. It has, however, lately been neglected.

We decide to gift her a kitchen garden make-over.

In town, at the agro-shop to get supplies:

“Got some DAP fertilizer, sir?”

Of course.”  Ok, wash hands first at the entrance with soap and water!

Organic seeds – coriander, ginger, onion, beet root, red pepper, Kales and lemon grass. A length of rubber hose pipe and sprinkler.

The attendant is, in the face of COVID-19 threat, avoiding cash like the plague, no pun intended. He asks for cashless means: either pay with your Coop Visa Card, or alternatively pay via M-Pesa straight into a Co-op Bank account using Paybill no. 400200 – both options are free of any charge. We use the Coop Visa Debit Card.

The main dilemma, now: How do we get a way to work in Grandma’s garden without her knowledge? It’s supposed to be a surprise!



Co-Operative Bank launches import finance product for MSMEs

Co-operative Bank has launched the Import Duty Finance to the rapidly evolving Micro, Small & Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) in Kenya as it commits to remain innovative in offering relevant services in the dynamic business segment. The product was launched to Co-operative Bank customers; specifically those who are involved in the Import business. Import Duty Finance (IDF) is financing product for importers designed to help them to have a seamless process during clearing and transportation of imported cargo from the port of origin to the final destination.

The Import Duty Finance solution ensures prompt payment of duty and other related costs; it unlocks working capital for the customer while ensuring timely delivery, as well as saves them from incurring high storage & demurrage charges.

The Bank also introduced Supply Chain Financing, a financing offer that facilitates suppliers who sell to buyers to obtain prompt payment once they submit their invoices. It provides short-term credit that optimizes working capital for both buyer and seller.

To the buyer, it ensures a constant supply of goods and a good business relationship with suppliers; to the supplier, in addition to working capital they are able to extend financial credit to buyers by using approved invoices as a form of surety and reduce the debtors’ days.

Speaking at the launch of the Import Duty Finance product, Co-operative Bank Head of Business Banking, Moses Gitau said:

“In the last 2 years, the Bank expended a lot of resources on customer engagements and research work to understand the dynamics of this critical business segment and tailor made the MSME package to make it more responsive to the needs of MSMEs. In the one year we have been rolling our revamped MSME offering to our customers and the public in general, the results have been positive. This year, we are now refining the product to target specific groups of MSMEs such as the import and export industry”

The Import Duty Financing and Supply Chain Financing are part of a bouquet of trade products custom made for MSMEs, specifically those in the import & export industry. The products include Letters of Credit, an undertaking by the bank on behalf of the importer to the exporter’s bank guaranteeing payment upon delivery & shipment of goods as per the agreed terms;  Bid and Tender Bonds, an entry solution required for contracts & tenders, unsecured up to Ksh.5m; Performance Guarantee & Bond, upon tender award the bank issues a guarantee to the employer on the customers’ ability to perform & deliver on the contract and Invoice Discounting & LPO Financing, the   arrangement between buyer and bank to settle invoices & LPO and payment done directly to the bank.

Bales of Second-hand clothes inward bound for Gikomba Market
Bales of Second-hand clothes inward bound for Gikomba Market

The trade finance products are targeted at importers of motor vehicles and equipment, importers of second hand items for sale, these are business people who import second hand goods for resale including business people in Gikomba and other markets, Importers of other goods such as manufacturers (raw materials), construction materials suppliers or other businesses etc.

Clearing and logistics firms who handle clearing and forwarding services as well as logistical solutions. A customer can apply from as little as Ksh. 50,000/- up to 100% of value of invoice or quotation raised by third parties such as KRA, clearing agent, freight company among others.

The Bank continues to look for more opportunities and develop various solutions to build on its vision for MSMEs, which is to grow world class entrepreneurs beyond the Kenyan borders.


Did you know how hard it was to successfully in the old days, thank heavens for small mercies

The ‘Old is Gold’, or the more impartial ‘Good Old Days’ sayings are quickly losing relevance. Everything new is certainly better in all aspects. Think about it. Travel. Medical. Housing, et al. However, not everything is enviable – some areas are worse for wear. In some, old is indeed better.

The dynamic world of dating, for instance.

Dating was an art. A craft, that needed practice to perfect. I haven’t talked to marriage counsellors, experts and social critics, but it doesn’t need a PHD to figure out what held marriages together in the old days. It’s the dating experiences a couple had to go through.

Well, we didn’t have social media. In the event that you’d pity the folks in the grind then, hold on. They had social mechanisms that were more exciting and engaging than poking strangers on Facebook and sliding into their DMs.

Hello, have you heard of village dances?

Village dances ran for a week, and coincided with the full moon. Poets do not wax lyrical about the moon for nothing – it has a romantic pull. The villages had a veritable grapevine to spread the news of the dance. It was rotational, village to village. Preparations would start way before. The village dancers would practice, and the nubile would start eyeing potential mates.

It had a bit of danger, if the apple of your eye hailed from a different village. The resident males had ‘right of possession’ – would gang up, and if you didn’t have a gang watching your back, you’d often suffer a beating to within an inch of your life. If the gods smiled upon you, the girl would agree to elope you at midnight – when the dance ended.

Love that blossomed in the village had an almost tangible tinge, to it. Mobile phones were non-existent. Oh, the things we now take for granted. A lad crushing on someone had to be a clever fellow. What times does she fetch water? (Springs were communal, and fetching water was the one errand most folks would credit for finally landing a spouse).

If you luckily figured out the time she ran the water errand, she still had to fall for you. If you didn’t tickle her fancy, well, that’s that. If she did like you, you had one more barrier to cross – her younger sibling. It was a Herculean task bribing the sibling, to get some space to drop your lines.

“Hey, Njuguna, do you like mangoes? Go get some, let me talk to Shiru….”

“No, we have mangoes at home, too…” Aaaarrrgghh.

Nowadays, it’s an easy walk in the park bribing the younger sibling.

“Hey, Jayden, wanna run grab your Siz a pizza from the mall?” It’s always a Jayden, or a Shawn.

Thank heavens, if your present girlfriend floods your phone with selfies. Back then, a couple would be on their third year of marriage (and second child) before their first photo shoot. One, the regional Kodak photographer would take ages before passing through the village. And, if he did pass, perhaps, your Sunday best clothes aren’t in a photogenic state.

If the girl of your dreams has the jitters for you this Valentine’s Day, treat her well. Give your all – at least for your older folks – who had to walk over hot coal like a Kung Fu master to meet a partner. While they’d literally trade goats, sheep and cereals to treat their dates, all you have to do is just whip out your Co-op Visa Card to make her night memorable.

As you dine and wine with your significant other this Valentine’s Day, take the narrow road that avoids hard currency, and pay using your Co-op Visa Card. It’s better, safer and certainly adds more oomph to the night if you swipe at the Petrol Station, the mall and at the restaurant.

Have a lovely and captive Valentine’s Day!


The internet almost breaks as The Men’s Conference 2020 agenda leaks, but the official venue is still under wraps!

The long-awaited annual Men’s Conference#2020 is here, but the official venue for the gala still remains undisclosed. This is for an obvious reason: Enemy Infiltration. To discourage distracting incidences, the venue will be communicated later this evening.

However, the management has deemed it fit to leak sections of the agenda to be addressed at the conference. Keynote speakers from across the continent and beyond are scheduled to make presentations in a bid to empower and embolden the long-suffering male gender. These speakers are confident individuals who’ve clearly been tested by the alternate gender and rose like a Phoenix from the battle ashes.

Measured and found not wanting.

The leaked agenda mainly covers social topics. Confidential items will only be discussed at the venue. The social aspect of the conference covers the frequent points of antagonism in many households, and which have been a perennial thorn in the flesh.

These include, but are not limited, to:

  • Household chores.
  • Carrying handbags in public.
  • Attending photo shoots.
  • Falling victim to the Send Fare Scam.
  • The exploitive bride price issue.

It’s bound to be mind-blowing when the experts mount the podium to give their opinions about these prickly issues. Many participants, however, are keen to attend for the confidential items on that agenda. Unconfirmed leaks point to various issues:

  • The general importance and relevance of growing a beard in a household. The beard, and the moustache are veritable symbols of authority.
  • The follies and tricks of dealing with persistent dry spell in the hands of an inconsiderate or uninterested spouse. Is the sudden headache at bed time real?
  • What’s the ideal time should the (bearded) man of the house get home after work? A real man passes by the local to discuss the country’s prevailing strains of bad economy and leadership over a cold Tusker, right?

Other important parts of the leak includes a directive for all participants to cover all needs of their families before the D-Day. These include the usual shopping needs, fuel needs and other utilities as the other side shall be marking the obnoxious Valentine’s Day. This can easily be handled by using their Coop Visa Cards to pay directly at the outlets. Any distractions wrought by disgruntled spouses related to such issues will lead to automatic expulsion.

To register for the conference, no cash shall be accepted. Use the Coop Visa Card, safer and more convenient.

P.S. All men without a beard or a bare-minimum moustache shall have rotational kitchen duties allocated to them.


This Valentine’s Day, don’t be the same insufferable idiot you were last year. Be smarter!

Well, getting dumped is fairly normal. It’s perhaps, inevitable, now and then. However, getting the axe on Valentine’s Day doubles the pain. What triples is the pain? Getting dumped by another girl on the subsequent Valentine’s Day – for being the same insufferable idiot. Ha!

Some experiences are best read about, not survived. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?

News flash: They lied.

This is a non-official apology letter to my then, long-suffering ex-girlfriend. It’s fraught with a lot of remorse and regret. I no longer hate you, and no longer subconsciously condemn you to eternal damnation in the hottest annals of hell. I understand. If I were you, I’d have left, too.

That Valentine’s date was a disaster, from the start. I made the mistake of taking her out to my local. No offence meant, but it’s hardly a joint that encourages spousal loyalty and self-discipline. It’s full of kinky company and not-so-subtle language, often a favorite hangout for rowdy soccer crowds and gangs keen on settling grudges.

Dear ex, I didn’t know you didn’t like hanging out with the boys. I thought you loved plunging your pretty nails into greasy, steaming platters of kichwa mbuzi, cabbages and potatoes. I naively believed seeing your eyes water from all the pepper in the tumbukiza was mad fun. You were the only girl on our table – none of my boys had a date – doesn’t girls adore harmless attention from mafisi?

Oh, buying your date a red soccer jersey from your favorite team in the EPL doesn’t count as a suitable Valentine’s Day gift. Plus, the team is bang on a losing streak.

In an endeavor to avoid making the depressing statistics “Dumped on Valentine’s day”, I made a sabbatical retreat to gain knowledge. Something akin to a soul-searching trek in the mountains to meditate with reclusive monks.

Fun Fact: A Siberian monk holds the Guinness world record for World’s Most Silent Human Being – dude hasn’t uttered a single word to fellow monks in a whopping 29years.

Wherever you may decide to seek knowledge on Valentine’s Day’s best ideas, kindly ignore the West. Their culture ain’t our culture.

I read of a family of five who wake up at dawn on the Day of Love. Each takes five slips of paper and writes lovey-dovey messages for each of the five family members. So, each one gets 25 slips with love messages – stuck on various points in the house. The bathroom mirror, the salt shaker, etc. Get it?

For instance, a message to Daddy reads: Love you Daddy for always coming to watch me play tennis in school. Message to Mommy: You are the best mom in the world, your pancakes are awesome!

Sounds sweet, right? Well, doesn’t cut out well in our households. First, how many families get up together in the morning for breakfast? Your brother Kevoh didn’t even come in last night!

Oh, you also never play any sports. Lethargic family genes to blame, eh?

Who writes sweet nothings on sticky paper slips? Thank heavens for Whatsapp and Facebook status features. One bland message with love smileys does that. And, anyways, your bathroom mirror wasn’t replaced after Uncle Tosh broke it in a drunken rage last Xmas.

Well, here’s my plan: I’ll splash on my date – a short red or black dress, with high heels. That’s a few days prior. I’ll make a booking at a trendy restaurant in the CBD – and since the city has its usual predatory ways, I’ll avoid cash in my pockets. I’ll use my Coop Visa Card.

In any case, ladies love class. There’s something chic about paying for her wine treat with the Coop Visa Card. It oozes of sheer elegance and confidence.

If you didn’t know those feature high on the endless list of Things-to-look-for-in-my-ideal-man.

Be informed. Don’t get dumped.


I am in love with three ladies, and I used this nifty trick to make them inseparable best friends – believe it or not!

I don’t suffer an exception.

Alongside a million other upward-mobile individuals, I owe the modest progress I’ve made in this life to a small circle of influential ladies. They are all fiercely independent, and opinionated. Their other qualities are pretty subjective to personal bias and emotional attachment, but selflessness, sacrifice and loyalty levels in this trio flows beyond me.

My mother.

My sister.

My girlfriend.

If you’ve lived closely with three ladies, you’ll realize how delicate the balance is for an ambient relationship. I have lived with the first two – my younger sister and I watching mother weather endless storms as a single parent. The latter, well, we’ve been dating for the last four years. It’s been largely uneventful till I asked her last year to come live in our family house.

Jury is still out, deliberating on what exactly happens when a lady gets introduced to the family; as a possible fiancée, or outright gets married. Suddenly, space becomes a huge thing – and it won’t matter if you lived in a sprawling, 10-bedroom mansion in Bel Air. The air will start to change.

I mostly lived with mother as the younger sister still attends college. It was easy living with mother, and had no plans to move out – notwithstanding constant jibes from my friends about it. After a while, she starts asking if a grandson is not her portion (she’s religious).

That’s motherspeak for, “Dude aren’t you meeting any exciting girls out there?”

So, I asked my girlfriend Faith to move in with us. It was cool running for a month or so, with both going out of their ways to please the other. They bonded so well Faith got dangerously close to joining the local branch of the Women’s Guild.

Drama landed when some riots broke out in my sister’s campus, and they shut for an indefinite holiday. She came home from the riots with a ton of negativity. Perhaps, it’s a side-effect from the tear gas:

You don’t do the dishes like some of us.

Don’t hog the TV remote. (Previously, the screen would remain off for days – a silent listener to every conversation).

Why is the Wi-Fi password not named after me? Hello, it’s just a password, not a kid.

I could sense something odd whenever we were all together. Everyone would tiptoe around conversations. Faith would be silent for most part at dinner time – and wouldn’t even say Grace. I knew what had gone haywire: my girlfriend had joined our close circle, and my sister felt invaded. We have had a pretty hard childhood, and the family had broken even just a few years back.

I got very distracted at work by the tension at home – I worked in an insurance firm, then. But in the midst of that, fate and providence smiled at me. I landed a big corporate client and won a huge bonus. I made a decision to treat the ladies in my life in a way that would tear the cloak of tension in the house. I wanted the fire back in the fire place. I wanted people who’d be so engrossed in each other they’d forget to switch on the TV.

A week before Valentine’s Day last year, I booked three tickets in their names on a Malindi flight using my Coop Visa Card. I also booked a 4-day stay in a popular beach hotel in Watamu, using the same card – I didn’t want a paperwork trail to spoil the surprise.

On the eve of the travel, I handed out the tickets at the breakfast table. After much ado (about nothing), they boarded. My sister didn’t need much coaxing. Mother created some fuss, but I knew she loved the beach. My girlfriend, well…… I didn’t think she’d ever forgive me.

That Valentine’s Day was indeed a day of love – they came back bubbling with love and life. I didn’t enjoy much, though, as I was worried. Faith had travelled with her own Coop Visa Card (in case she didn’t ‘survive’ the first day and had to book a flight back).

I had to bail her out for the rest of the year – they burnt a hole through her savings for all sorts of payments: Spa treatments, Pizza and cocktails, shopping at malls, car hire bills, name it!

It was worth every cent, though!


My college girlfriend saves the day as our first Valentine’s Day date almost turns to complete disaster

Plunging into the world of dating will quickly teach that it’s a treacherous path to navigate. This path is filled with mines. And it’s easier for a battle-hardened marine handling PTSD, than it is for a teen to overcome emotional trauma from an egg-in-your-face experience.

When I joined college, no one gave me a tattered handbook on the do’s and don’ts of dating. I was pretty green, with a background spent in a strict household with a set of Seminarian rules. My mother had banned us in her kitchen, but would keep a running commentary as she cooked. A fair portion of which, indirectly, forbade any ‘un-blessed alliances’.

“Bring me a degree first, Ahmed” She’d intone, peering into a steaming pot of vegetables.

Meanwhile, Dad would throw an occasional sly look my way and return to his cryptic puzzle.

I was, however, right on one front about dating in college. It turns out that things ‘just flow along’. After the hype and excitement that grips the campus once the Freshers’ report, things cool down. In every batch there’s a group who’ve endured mothers threatening to curse and disown, and tend to steer clear of the hallowed, senior comrades’ – and we’d flock together.

That’s how easy it was meeting my first girlfriend. Just hanging out in class as the cool kids went out.

Reality hit soon after – the real work is not in meeting a girl. The real hustle is in keeping one. Dear Lord! You have to be cool. In campus, trends are a huge thing. There’s always cool things happening. For instance, Valentine’s Day came along barely three weeks after reporting.

Aside: If you are into college, be informed she’ll find it easier to forgive you if you miss her graduation ceremony. But thou shall NOT be indifferent to the enigma that surrounds the Valentine’s Day.

My new girlfriend started dropping hints immediately. We’d snuggle up to watch a movie on her laptop in her room, and she’d start to. Do you love red? Chocolate? Do you know my sister is going to Naivasha with her fiancé over Valentine’s weekend? I would naively (and noisily) sip at my Quencher juice and ask for sub-titles.

On the eve, she right up asked if I had plans. Oh, I hadn’t any, but I reckoned it wouldn’t hurt. I still had some money. I didn’t drink then, and I still try to work out where exactly I joined the bandwagon that had us later on teetering on the edge of absolute alcoholism.

I got on my signature black T-shirt, Nike sneakers and blue jeans, but my love was completely doled out in a flashy red satin dress. I knew we wouldn’t hit a flashy restaurant any who, so I wasn’t worried about money. We took one of the loud, pimped out semi-dark matatus plying Thika Road. It was half-filled with rowdy comrades in different levels of sobriety, and it was fun.

My date led me to a modest eatery off Moi Avenue and true to script, ordered the staple preference for typical college girls: fries and chicken. Though most of the tables had couples in seemingly deep conversations, we didn’t have much to talk. We had that easy, laid back, gangsta-love sort of relationship. We chewed on crispy chicken and watched the Lakers thrash the Yankees on a TV perched high on the corner.

Who places TV screens so high up in restaurants? Watch it for a minute, and the neck aches.

It’s a modest eatery, so no much fanfare with the bill. The waitress comes along and places the salt shaker on it. The bill is mine – again, no much tagging on who pays up. Gangsta love, ahem. I started frisking my pockets. No wallet. No money.

It’s then that it dawns on me. I had been robbed in the Matatu ride to town. Well, in this city lessons are served fast and brutally. I had to think fast – I knew my lady in red didn’t have money, but she outright sensed something was off. I had to tell her what had happened.

Believe it or not, she whips out a Co-op Visa Card and passes it to the waitress. I was dumbstruck.

Sweetheart, hii ni Nairobi. Chanuka. Hatubebi doo kwa mfuko” She leans forward, and whispers.

That’s how my first Valentine’s Day would have turned into a complete disaster. Luckily I had a girl armed with a Co-op Visa Card. It turned out to be awesome – and I may have had my first taste of wine on the same day.



Co-operative Bank education scholarships benefit 7,583 students across the nation

The Board of Directors of the Co-operative Bank is pleased to announce the successful completion of the selection of beneficiaries of this year’s annual intake of 655 gifted but needy students from across the country to join the Cooperative Bank Foundation Scholarship Scheme in 2020.

This year’s intake of 655 Form One beneficiaries stands as one of the largest secondary education scholarship schemes in Kenya today. The program is fully funded by the Bank to the tune of Sh155 million every year.

Of the 655 new scholarships to Form One students, 420 were identified by the bank’s Regional Delegates’ Forums and the remaining 235 scholarships, at 5 per county, awarded by County Governments in all the 47 counties, the bank’s Group Managing Director & CEO, Dr. Gideon Muriuki has said.

Additionally, the bank is educating a total of 177 students, selected from the top performing beneficiaries of the secondary school scholarships, through their entire university education.

Following this year 2020 intake, the Co-operative Bank will have provided full education sponsorship to 7,640 deserving Kenyans, of whom 7,332 will have gone through secondary education and 308 university studies.

The scholarships are awarded on merit to gifted but needy students from all regions of Kenya.

Commenting further on this program, Dr. Gideon Muriuki said, “Our scholarship beneficiaries are selected at the grassroots level by Co-operative Societies across the country through a well-established national delegates system. Co-operative Societies, who are the face of Kenya, identify well-performing students from disadvantaged backgrounds and bring these names into a regional forum where delegates debate and select the most deserving cases. At the bank’s head office, our role is to process payments to the schools and monitor the students’ performance through the four years in secondary school. The top 28 in the Form Four examination each year are granted an additional full scholarship for their university education.”

Commenting on the reason why the bank has chosen education scholarships as its flagship Corporate Social Investment, Dr. Gideon Muriuki observed that education is one of the most expensive items in any household budget and yet has the highest potential to liberate people from poverty.

“Unless corporate institutions and all people of goodwill come together to support initiatives within the education sector, gifted but needy Kenyans will never realize their full potential. Being needy does not mean that one isn’t talented or has no potential. A large number of Kenyans holding positions of responsibility today were educated with loans from the Co-operative Movement.  It is for this reason that the Co-operative Bank, being the premier co-operative institution in Kenya, has taken the lead in this area.”

Co-operative Bank provides full school fees scholarships for the entire four years of secondary education. University scholarships are awarded to the best performing students from each region.

The scholarship program was launched in 2007.

More information on this scholarship program is available from the Branch Manager at your nearest Co-operative Bank branch, or email [email protected] or call 0711 049 475, 020 3276 100 and ask for Co-op Bank Foundation.


Easy steps to withdraw money from a Co-op Bank ATM machine without your ATM card and skip long queues at the bank

You may need to urgently access cash from your Co-op Bank account, but situations may dictate that you pursue other means, besides the conventional withdrawal using your ATM card.

The unfortunate loss or misplacement of the Coop Visa Card is not the sole reason.

You may need to withdraw sums of cash higher than the maximum daily amount the bank allows over an ATM machine. Depending on the day and season, an over-the-counter withdrawal may be a headache – long queues – and, sometimes, urgency of the business at hand.

Co-op Bank clients have the liberty to make easy card-less withdrawals at the ATM, by linking their phones in a few steps:

On the MCo-op Cash App:

  1. Access MCo-op Cash by clicking on the app.

(Alternatively, dial USSD code *667# on your phone)

  1. Enter your MCo-op Cash PIN
  2. Select “Withdraw Cash”
  3. Select “ATM”
  4. Choose bank account to withdraw from
  5. Enter Amount to withdraw –

*(Min Kes500 and Max Kes40,000 per withdrawal but up to Kes200,000 a day)

  1. Confirm transaction
  2. An SMS with a one-time PIN will be sent to your phone. This is the PIN you will use at the ATM – *PIN expires in 30 Minutes

On the ATM machine:

  1. Click the “MCo-op Cash withdrawal” button on the top right corner of the ATM screen
  2. Input Telephone Number
  3. Input One Time PIN provided via SMS
  4. Enter amount to withdraw same as input on phone
  5. Receive Cash from ATM Dispenser

Important things to remember during a card-less withdrawal at the Co-op Bank ATM:

  • Minimum withdrawal amount is Kes500 and Max Kes40,000 per single withdrawal transaction.
  • The maximum daily withdrawal amount is Kes200,000. (A client may make multiple withdrawal transactions – but not to exceed the daily maximum amount).
  • The one-time PIN sent to your phone expires in 30 Minutes. This is the PIN you’ll feed to the ATM. (It’s advisable to start the transaction while at the ATM machine’s actual location).



The bespectacled, mean clerk with a tight hair bun at the local coffee factory did finally retire….

My heart breaks each time I walk past the eternally-leaning, wooden gate to our local coffee factory. The place is deserted. The coffee bean drying terraces are overgrown with weeds, the sorting sheds have leaking roofs. The only thing that works is the gigantic, trusty coffee-weighing machine, albeit dusty and a little rusty around the edges.

But it works just fine. Weight, check your weight!

There’s not even a drowsy watchman in sight. This is a community-owned relic, alright.

What breaks the heart is the change of times. Way back, coffee would revolve around our lives. No, that’s too modest. Coffee used to be life. We’d eternally slave, toil and break our backs for this produce. The family would bond over coffee labor – the folks may fight all night, but unite in the morning for the cherry picking.

If you wanted to find favor in the eyes of your father, learn the basics of coffee farming. The tedious, extremely draining pruning season. Immediately after, break your back hauling sacks of manure for each stem. Oh, the pains of this love stretches from here to Timbuktu!

However, we didn’t have to wait till December – for the annual coffee bonus – to see the fruits of our labor.

School Opening Days.

We didn’t report to school on opening days. We’d spend the first day at the local coffee factory. We’d make a line, almost a mile long, from the clerk’s office. We had to line up to get factory chits to pay our school fees. Somehow, schools then had a fees check off system with the coffee society – based on individual coffee yields – and number of kids in school.

The factory clerk then (now mercifully retired), had heavy horn-rimmed glasses and a mean sense of humor. She enjoyed emotional torture, measured out in painful little doses.

Hii mwaka mliweka mbolea kwa shamba?

Why should I pay your school fees and you always come last in class?

(At this point, you are tempted to remind her it’s your coffee, not hers). But, of course, you do not.

The clerk would punch in numbers on a huge calculator, and lean back on her chair. You’d hold in your breath and wait, a little like Judgment Day – heaven or hell?

Kwenu mko wangapi primary school?” She’d ask.

Your mind is adrift. You are wondering if the tight bun on her hair doesn’t cause some considerable level of pain and discomfort. No worry, she doesn’t need your answer, anyways.

She punches off some more numbers in that huge calculator, then tears off a sheet from her ledger, and hands it over. That’s the chit that pays your school fees. Thou shall not lose, soil, tear, fray or wet it – there wasn’t any back up – save for a faded carbon copy at the mean clerk’s office!

Modern times, things have turned out better, especially for Co-op Bank customers. Paying school fees doesn’t have to be so tedious and, in some cases, traumatizing – not every family had huge tracts of land dedicated to the coffee crop.

Co-op Bank clients get to easily pay school fees direct to a school’s Co-op Bank account, via M-Pesa.

This is the simple process:

  1. Go to the M-Pesa menu, go to Paybill.
  2. Select business number and fill in 400222
  3. For Account prompt, write ‘schoolcode#studentnumber’
  4. Confirm details, and send.

Paying school fees doesn’t have to include lining up at the coffee factory clerk’s office to get produce chits. Pay through Co-op Bank’s M-Pesa Paybill number – faster, safer and more convenient.


Did you know that the sound of an ATM machine dispensing cash ranks just below soul music in therapy? Find out now!

Kkkkkkkrrrrrrrr! Kkkkkkkrrrrrr!

If therapy can be wholly packaged in a sound, then that sound would be the metallic sound an ATM machine makes, as it dispenses money. No other sound invokes a more pleasant feeling in a present-day human being. A heady cocktail of feelings -pleasant relief, accomplishment and reward.

It’s a little close to the feeling one gets in a restaurant, when you spot a waitress making her way to your table, with your food. Mighty hard to describe.

Well, turns out the ATM machine has been at it since1967. The first one was inspired by soft drink and chocolate dispensers, and credited to a man called John Shepherd-Barron. It’s clear that the early and subsequent ATM engineers were a brilliant lot – and could have easily figured how to silence the cash machine – yet, they didn’t.

That sound, therefore, is deliberate. Therapy. An entire month spent rising at the crack of dawn to get to work, and retiring late. You deserve this currency – that certainly makes it the sound of therapy. By any means, you deserve to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

The early ATMs were slow and clumsy, though. Gigantic, and very basic. They could only discharge preset amounts with biscuit-sized, prior coded cards. The concept for the modern ATM card, though, didn’t come from the inventor of the machine.  Adrian Ashfield came up with the basic idea of a card combining the key and user’s identity.

A few decades down, the machine has advanced tremendously. The feelings at the point of use are pretty much standard from the time of invention, but the services have tripled. They are sophisticated, getting smarter – and safer.

Co-operative Bank takes pride and effort to avail their clients the latest and most advanced ATMs across the country.

At all Co-op Bank ATMs, there’s a variety of services clients can access:

  1. The conventional cash withdrawal using the Co-op Visa Card.
  2. It’s easy to check your real-time bank account balance, or if you so desire, get a mini-statement in a few moments.
  3. A client can easily pay utility bills at any Co-op bank ATM. These utility bills include KPLC power bills, water bill, DSTV subscription, et al. It saves valuable time that would be spent lining up for hours in offices.
  4. Co-op Bank ATMs also enable cash withdrawal from M-Pesa using the agent number 472472. This is very useful, especially when travelling. If you may arrive late at a destination to find M-Pesa agent outlets are closed, fret not. The Co-op Bank ATM comes in handy.
  5. All Co-op Bank ATMs also enable card-less withdrawals. In the case that your Co-op Visa Card is not on your person – perhaps forgotten at home or elsewhere – you can still withdraw money using the MCo-op Cash App on your phone.

Aside: It’s the modern version of a tradition in the Maasai tribe. Lanky, fearless Morans would risk their lives to impress the ladies – hunting lions for sport. Take this to the bank: The sound of an ATM sub-consciously endears you to a potential partner. It’s a sign of long term stability, a major plus.

Take advantage of the seamless network of Co-op Bank ATMs in your hood, and further on across the country for easy access to your account funds. Remember you can still do a lot even without your Co-op Visa Card on your person.

Happy festive season, and enjoy responsibly.



The easiest way to handle random party moments this December, with MCo-op Cash

There’s a reason festive December is the most loved time of the year. This month rolls out unexpected good moments like life depends on it. But, hey, sometimes it may depend on it.

Its December, crazy things happen. One minute you’re minding your own business – picking milk at the neighborhood kiosk, the next you are rolling with your childhood buddy in his new ride. Its party after party, eight in the morning. Pardon the bathroom slippers.

A lot of urban peeps retire to their rural homes. The village ain’t kind to the urban dweller. And that’s how it should be. Our family’s hunter has to return home loaded, after an entire year hunting in the city. Hence, you have the obligation to buy the Billy goat for the annual Christmas feast, besides several chicken.

It’s not lost on you that on the way home, everyone had called you, “….Ukifika Mwea niletee mchele ya Pishori….”

The other workplace tradition: December salaries are paid early. Ahem, need I say more, brethren?

We lose our minds, running riot in town. But its ok, its December. This is the time to bond, to make new friends and re-connect with old acquaintances.

In the midst of this festive melee, it’s a refreshing thought to know you have a friend who’s got your back. The Co-operative Bank mobile banking service – MCoop Cash – has got your back.

You may have left your wallet in the house, but your phone hardly leaves your hand. This is when mobile banking comes in handy. It’s a big party-pooper telling your gang you need to rush home to pick your wallet – reputation is at stake – as they may think you want to bounce.

MCo-op Cash app allows you to conveniently do most of your banking needs via the app, or by just dialing *667#. It’s a simple process to make a withdrawal and treat your family to a dinner, from the comfort and convenience of the dinner table. Its super-fast, discreet and very safe – no one need know you are making a withdrawal.

Besides basic withdrawals, a coop bank clients enjoys a lot more with MCo-op Cash, on his phone. It’s a song to send money instantly to a Co-op bank account via the app. You want to help out a buddy sending you a drunken SOS? Just send directly to his account.

It’s debatable among Co-op Bank clients, on which is most influential among the features available on MCo-op Cash. One feature always wins. The mobile loan feature.

Applying for a mobile loan is easy and fast through the app. Alternatively, one can dial *667# and access the menu. The loan is fast and perfect for emergency situations. This completely snubs out traditional paperwork needed to secure a fast loan.

It’s a tall order outlining the convenience afforded by MCo-op Cash. For instance, paying utility bills has never been easier – power bills, TV subscriptions, water bills, et al. The days of traversing the estate looking for a shop selling power tokens are long gone. Take advantage of MCo-op Cash app.

Are you making a land purchase? Buying a new ride for your family? It’s as easy as ABC to pay for this, via the app. The MCo-op Cash app has a menu which hosts PesaLink. Through PesaLink, one can instantly send money to any account in any local bank. It’s the most affordable and safest mode of money transfer.

Oh, did you know checking your bank account balance via MCo-op Cash app is absolutely free? Now you know.

Have a fantabulous December. Have fun and enjoy responsibly.


Enjoying Christmas holidays in the village to the fullest, as Co-op kwa Jirani demystifies banking!

Have you ever wondered why everyone in urban areas crave their rural default setting once Christmas comes around?

Crazy work schedules in town. Long hours in traffic. Difficult bosses. Extreme deadlines. The one thing that keeps most people going from New Year to the end, is the lingering thought of travelling to their rural homes over Christmas.

The Christmas holiday feel is always about family. It’s not so much about travel, gorging on medic-forbidden junk food or splashing on expensive liquor. It’s about re-connecting and bonding with blood, for blood is always red, and thicker than water.

Shaggs is a reality check. Walk around barefoot. Get soaked in rain using banana leaves in lieu of an umbrella. Traditional honey beer with unconfirmed levels of potency. Re-connect with a childhood flame. Flaunting new ‘Christmas clothes’ – it’s a thing in the village.

And, good lord, keep tabs on your fading mother tongue. So much for hilarious memes and threads on Twitter.

Years back, a few days in the village would be a headache. One would lose touch with friends and work colleagues. Sometimes, days would pass before a current newspaper crosses your path. Simple banking procedures would be a hassle involving a day’s travel to the nearest town.

The Co-op Kwa Jirani concept by Co-op Bank has greatly demystified banking. These are banking services yanked from conventional banking halls into an everyday business premise in average market places. Being in your rural village doesn’t need to be a worry when the bank closes in the evening – in a town 50 miles off.

Your favorite grocer can still be your Co-op Kwa Jirani agent. Distributed countrywide, these agents have the ability to offer just about every banking service you’d need in a main bank.

A client can withdraw money. Christmas comes with feasts and treats – you don’t need to carry home sums of money in cash. You can withdraw just the amount you need conveniently at the Co-op Kwa Jirani Agent at the market center.

All other services besides withdrawals: Checking the account balance (especially after word leaks that end-of-year bonuses have been released) is easy enough at Co-op kwa Jirani outlets. The paying of utility bills is straight forward, fast and convenient at the same outlets – power bills, water bills, cable TV subscriptions, school fees, name it.

All of these are available at Co-op Kwa Jirani outlets.

For years, most farmers would receive their annual bonuses for their produce in December. Tea and coffee farmers, especially. In my native Meru, for instance, the annual bonus would be paid a day before Jamhuri – and our folks would receive it in cash at the local factory. Well, a surreal carnival feel would grip the village after that, and most folks would be broke by Christmas.

With a Co-op Kwa Jirani agent nearby, any extra cash chanced upon can be easily deposited – Free of Charge – which deviates unnecessary use or loss. There’s January to contend with, remember. It’s a nice idea to deposit at the outlets for later withdrawal.

Take advantage of the Co-op Kwa Jirani agent near you, and have a memorable, responsible holiday.

Co-op Bank scoops best bank award at EMEA Finance Awards in London

The Co-operative Bank has been named Best Bank in Kenya 2020 at this year’s Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) Finance Awards.

The EMEA Finance Awards recognise financial institutions which, through their client focus and sound leadership, continue to increase profitability, deliver affordable credit to the retail and wholesale markets, and support local and transnational corporations do business.

The award gala was held on 5th December 2019 at The Law Society, London, with Co-op Bank represented by Head of Investor Relations & Strategy James Kaburu and Bank Economist Anthony Muli.

“We are delighted to have been recognised with the prestigious EMEA Finance – African Banking Awards 2019, which vindicates our business model that uniquely combines world-class expertise and capabilities with deep-rooted local experience, enabling us to deliver market leading solutions to our customers in Kenya, said Mr. James Kaburu.

Co-op Bank has lately been on a winning streak, having recently been named Overall Winner of the Kenya Bankers Association (KBA) 2019 Sustainable Finance Catalyst Award.

The Awards were created to recognize institutions that practice sustainable finance which has a direct positive impact on the financial sector, the economy, the environment and the society at large.

This year has especially been notable, with Co-op Bank winning accolades for strong credentials in Green Finance and sustainability practices. The bank was named as Best Bank in Sustainable Finance in Kenya at the 2019 Energy Management Awards hosted by the Kenya Association of Manufacturers in April, and in mid-November emerged Overall Winner in Environmental Sustainability Report at the 2019 East African Financial Reporting (FiRe) Awards held in Nairobi.

Commenting on the recent accolades, the Group Managing Director & CEO Co-operative Bank, Dr. Gideon Muriuki said, “As a bank that is predominantly-owned by the 15 million-member Cooperative Movement, we are inclusive by design, which has not only enabled us to deliver shared prosperity today, but also helped us build an awareness and prudence to avoid making decisions that may put future generations in jeopardy.”

Three Co-op Bank Foundation students graduate at JKUAT with stellar performances

Every single graduate at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) 34th graduation held on Friday 29th November 2019, in Juja, has a story to tell. But three individuals stood out from the learned crowd. This trio has had a long journey infused with grit, determination and focus – and thanks to a corporate friend – has resulted in success and empowerment.

The three students have been on full Co-op Bank Foundation scholarships.

Kevin Otieno Onyango – Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery, Martin Mumo – Bsc. Actuarial Science and Wainaina Nelius Wanjiru – Bsc. Nursing.

Co-op Bank foundation has provided full secondary and university education scholarships to over 7,000 gifted but needy students from all regions of Kenya. The scholarship program starts from secondary school level. It was initiated in 2007 starting with 30 students per region but has bloomed to 60 students per region and 5 students per every county in Kenya.

The University Scholarship and Vocational Internship programme was rolled out in 2011, for gifted but needy students who excel in KCSE. It’s renewable for up to 4-5 years of undergraduate study, depending with the course in private and public universities in Kenya. The scholarship covers tuition, meals and accommodation. Currently, 84 students are on this scholarship.

The vocational internship programme is an ambitious project to expose the pre-university and the university students to a real life job situation and hand-on industry training. The three latest graduates from JKUAT are recipients of this programme, and needless to say, very well equipped as they finish their courses.

Congratulations Onyango, Mumo and Wanjiru on your graduation. May you achieve more, and may you continue to positively impact and empower the communities around you.


Co-operative Bank opens festive season for their clients by scrapping charges on bank balance inquiry

It’s the little things in life that make a difference.

It’s a very fragile axis that a good day swings on. The little things around us.  A baby’s toothless smile on the matatu’s ride to work. A random complement on a new hairstyle by a good-natured colleague at work. A cheery emoji on a social media post. A particularly funny meme that reminds you of some old, cranky relative. It’s simple, really.

On the other hand, a bad day doesn’t need much coaxing to turn up. Your landlord may wake up on the wrong side of bed and decide an impromptu rent hike. The long-suffering Japanese jalopy decides to give up the ghost without warning – you got to work late. The boss doesn’t understand how that relates to punctuality at work.

Co-operative Bank, however, understands the challenges her clients meet on a daily basis, and continuously strives to improve and sanitize packages to give a better, home-based banking experience.

Do you know Co-Operative Bank no longer charges a dime to check your bank balance?

This is particularly welcome news to a large cadre of business owners who take payment for goods and service through their Co-op Bank accounts. No matter how many times they have to check their balance for proof of payments, it’s all free.

Any news that softens the grip on the budget line is good news. Any coin saved readily plugs some hole in the budget. Towards the rent, and ultimately to more savings – perhaps, in a few years, you can save up and get your own digs. Best case scenario, you can be a landlord, too. And, certainly a better one.

It’s a welcome, progressive step towards a hassle-free banking experience.

Co-operative Bank to support free cancer screening campaign

The recent surge of cancer-related health challenges facing the country has brought to the fore the need to ramp-up early cancer screening campaigns to help identify in good time cases where early intervention can help.

It is in this spirit that the Beth Mugo Cancer Foundation in collaboration with Co-operative Bank and other partners has drawn out a countrywide program of Free Cancer Screening Camps where Kenyans can get free screening for the key lifestyle disease conditions that continue to ravage families including cancer, blood sugar levels, blood pressure and related health needs.

In this context, the next Free Cancer Screening Camp will be held this Friday 27 September 2019 at Lumakanda Primary School in Lugari Constituency, Kakamega County, hosted by the Beth Mugo Foundation in collaboration with the Co-operative Bank, the Kakamega County Government and other partners. Everyone in Kakamega and beyond is invited to come for the free cancer screening.

This Kakamega event is the second one, following the first held in Kisumu in January this year at which hundreds of residents received free cancer screening and related medical advice.

The Co-operative Bank has made available sh10 million to be applied over five years on the Prevention of Cancer campaign, and looks forward to support the free cancer screening camps in all counties of Kenya.

The Co-operative Bank will support the Free Cancer Screening Campaign alongside other worthy causes that the bank continues to support that include the First Lady’s Beyond Zero Initiative on child and maternal health, the School Fees Bursary Program that has supported over 6,900 gifted but needy students, and capacity-building in the over 15 million-member co-operative movement under the Co-operative Bank Foundation.

“We appeal to other corporate institutions and Kenyans of goodwill to join hands and create a movement around the importance of early screening and testing for the key health challenges such as cancer and diabetes that continue to ravage our families causing untold misery mainly due to very late diagnosis,” Group Managing Director & CEO Co-operative Bank, Dr. Gideon Muriuki.


Co-operative Bank Wraps Up its First Phase of MSME Customers Networking Forums

For the last seven months the Bank has been hosting customer networking forums for its Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSME) customers. The networking forums were held in selected towns across the country enabling business communities in those towns to network among themselves as learn about business opportunities in Kenya and specifically in their county, from the bank economist and treasurer.

The customer networking forums are a key part of Co-op Bank’s MSME offering, as it is widely acknowledged that MSMEs need the insights and training on economic matters that have a direct bearing on their business, and which they have little or no control over. To address these, the forums featured a detailed presentation by the bank’s treasurer on the opportunities that MSMEs can tap and the ways the bank is working to enable customers to seize them. This was followed by a panel discussion with bank representatives and successful entrepreneurs from the region, concluding with a networking session. The final MSME forum will be held in Kisii later this week.

Co-op Bank recently revamped its MSME offering and now has an arm in the bank which deals specifically with non-financial services for its MSME business banking customers. The bank retooled and refreshed the product offering to make it more responsive to the needs of MSMEs. They have made available a substantial kitty of Sh15.2 Billion for a package of loans that include an unsecured business loan, a first of its kind in Kenya, E-Credit through our MCo-op Cash App where businesses are able to borrow up to Ksh. 2 million via their mobile phone, packaged insurance cover which are handpicked and specifically negotiated to suit various segments under MSME, revised and pre-approved limits on overdrafts and loans. The loans will be supported by trade services that include Letters of Credit, guarantees, supply chain financing, among others. These services are available at all Cooperative Bank branches across the country.

The Bank, through its non-financial services arm, will also be taking customers for the second international business trip this year, from 2nd November to 12th November, 2019; where customers will visit Thailand and China. The trip will enable customers to create linkages for overseas business and build partnership opportunities as well as purchase various items at highly discounted costs which will enable them to pass the discounts to their customers, making their products competitive. The business trip is open to all business customers from across the country, looking to travel to China for business.

The customers will get a chance to tour Thailand and China, specifically Bangkok and Guangzhou. In Bangkok, they will visit clothes factories, multiple spare part shops and busy shopping districts. In Guangzhou, they will get a chance to visit various constructions sites where they will learn the latest building technologies and waste management processes. They will further visits markets for hardware, kitchen ware, tiles & ceramics, furniture, electronic appliances, clothes and leather among others.

Speaking about the upcoming business trip, Co-operative Bank Head of Business Banking, Moses Gitau said, “Earlier this year we took business customers to Shanghai and Yiwu; where they were able to interact and network with business in China. They were able to create linkages for overseas business and partnerships. This upcoming business exposure trip will present similar invaluable opportunities to the customers. The trip is a unique experience where participants get to mix business with leisure.”

The Bank continues to look for more opportunities and develop various programs to build on its vision for MSMEs, which is to grow world class entrepreneurs beyond the Kenyan borders.


An Easy Win for Coop Bank in the 2019 ASK Mombasa Show

The Co-operative Bank has continued to support the agricultural sector and specifically farmers in all corners of the country. This is evident at the ASK Mombasa International Trade Fair where the bank is showcasing its deep presence in the Coast Region, supporting farmers especially those organized in Co-operatives and producer groups. In partnership with both local and international partners, Co-op Bank is making tremendous progress reviving and expanding the incomes of farmers in the coast region, as may be seen in these select cases;

Kwale Pavi Cotton Program

PAVI Farmers’ Co-operative Society in Kwale was started as an initiative of Base Titanium Ltd for farmers who grow cotton, sorghum, potatoes and poultry. Through close support and collaboration with Base Titanium Ltd, the smallholder cotton farmers who previously had given up hope in their crop have been linked to mainstream international markets, enabling the farmers earn greatly improved returns for their cotton, as high as Kes 198 per kg of cotton lint as opposed to Kes 138 per kg of cotton lint offered by local ginneries.

The most notable foreign buyer of cotton from small-holder Kenyan farmers is CottonOn Corporation, which is the largest Australian cloth and fashion design group started in 1991 and which has since expanded to become a global player with 1,400 stores across 7 brands and 19 countries. It is also one of Australia’s leading global fashion brands.

Co-operative Bank has supported this cotton program with a Supply Chain Credit Facility of US$ 1 Million to ensure farmers are paid promptly upon harvesting and delivery of their cotton to the Co-operative Society. The bank financing has greatly motivated farmers to remain committed to the program by reducing the previous delays in receiving crop proceeds due to the long cash cycle of the cotton business. By making funding available in a timely fashion, Co-op Bank has enabled the farmers to continue with farm preparation for the next season as well as meet their other financial needs.

Lake Kenyatta Farmers’ Co-operative Society

This is a farmers co-operative society based in Lamu (Mpeketoni). Co-op Bank is offering financial support to these farmers through the same credit line with PAVI where PAVI is now able to purchase cotton from Lake Kenyatta for onward ginning and selling of the lint through the PAVI partnership with CottonOn Group. This is a major breakthrough as we have fostered a Co-operative-to-Co-operative trading partnership thereby locking away the brokers and enabling the farmers to earn much better returns on their produce.

Kilifi Plantations

This is a sisal producing company in Kilifi. The bank has supported them with asset financing to mechanize the production of sisal in the farm thereby enabling them enjoy substantial savings on production costs.

Co-op Bank that is predominantly-owned by the 15 million-member co-operative movement will sustain and deepen its presence in the Coast Region to continue supporting the banking needs of co-operatives, SMEs and public sector institutions including County Governments.

The Eccentric School Bursar always flying solo, like a combat pilot !

The short steps to the deputy head’s office, who doubled as the official discipline master, didn’t strike as much reverence as a visit to the hallowed bursar’s office.

The bursar at Ikuu High School, in those days, was an eccentric fellow. In the academic years I spent at the institution – in other circles referred to as the ‘Centre of Excellence’ – not once did I hear someone say, “The bursar hangs out with Mr. So-and-So”.

A notable bursar flies solo, like a fighter pilot.

At the bare minimum, he should tick most of the boxes on the Bursar Starter Pack list: Half-moon reading glasses. A dark moustache. A checked, sleeveless sweater, commonly called the wind-breaker. An aged, brown leather satchel common with campus professors and (collapsed) coffee society committee members.

A day after the opening, classes would be paused at midday, and we’d line up at his office. It wasn’t an office appointment, per se, just a peek through a tiny hole on the heavy grill on his office window. Boys be fidgeting all up the line to the last one, clutching at money orders and promissory notes in sweaty palms.

The tiny hole is set a little low, vertically-blessed visitors have to stoop. There’s nothing to ogle at in that sore office. Mountains upon mountains of browning paper files. The mustached, dour bursar sits in a low armchair at the middle of his desk, like an oracle receiving pilgrims on a holy mountain.

No matter how masculine someone felt, all pretenses dropped at this hole. A valid meal card is a powerful talisman to a reputable bullying status at the dining hall, especially on meat days.

‘Hello, Sir.” A boy matters under his breath, stooping at the window.

The bursar stares back with an expressionless look, above his half-moon glasses. No response. The boy thrusts a bunch of notes through the window. The bursar picks and spreads them on his desk. He methodically picks them up, in the ascending order of their value. Oh, the presidential image has to be the right way up.

Long moments as he counts the crumbled notes. Are those wheels and cogs turning in his head? Do I get the coveted meal card?

“You have a tuition balance, from last term.” Says the bursar, in a low voice.

“I know, sir. I told my father about it. Says he shall clear when the tea bonus is paid.” You literally whisper through the hole. You neither want your peers to know tea farming is your families’ only source of income, nor do you want your father getting to know the tuition money had you balling like a rock star at Jam Session.

“You have a week.” Declares the oracle, peering above his half-moon glasses. He proceeds to label and stamp a dining meal card, strictly 7 days. Phew, close call. If, and when it expires, utambana na hali yako.

The next fellow gets his chance at the hole in the window, and throws in a soiled money order. Except, the bursar has left the office, for a smoke and a soda at the school canteen. On the entire breadth of the walk, the sour man doesn’t speak a word to a soul. It’s him (and, his arithmetic), against the world.

He gets back. The boy points to a space on a desk littered with all sorts of paper scraps. Pentium PC’s had still a few years to become a common office feature.

He stares at the apprehensive boy above the rim of his half-moons’.

“Young man, are you sure?” He growls. “I need time to check it out. Next!”

Fast forward to 2019. Paying school fees and other bills doesn’t have to be so hectic. Coop Bank customers with M-Coop Cash app are already registered to PesaLink. It’s easy to transfer money from one account to another on very affordable terms. Paying school fees, paying rent, paying for new supplies at a business, is easy and flexible with PesaLink.


How The Discerning Parent Handles The Looming School Fees Dilemma Like a Boss!

To a large extent, Kenyan boy-band Sauti Sol owed their audience a disclaimer at the end of their hit track, Nerea. If a parenting newbie takes its content literally, the hard truth slams down like a sledge hammer blow – every new born needs quite a definite budget. The band ought to have ended the track with a candid ‘Just Kidding!’

There’s also an indelible aspect of our African culture that weighs upon us. The extended family. That part of culture is passed down in generations. Does the adage ‘You only have a wife as your own, the offspring belongs to the village’ ring a bell?


Your brother’s kids are no different from your own, in the instance he’s in a disadvantaged position to cater for their needs. Hello, Sauti Sol. You lied.

That truth dawned on Mutiso, one early morning. Pardon the pun. Mutiso is a military officer, recently employed and based in a garrison in the outskirts of the city. When school holidays begun early August, his younger sister showed up at his doorstep with her two kids, aged six and thirteen. She had been a long-suffering housewife trapped in an abusive marriage, and had finally called it quits.

She didn’t have any income. Her brother was the only family she had in the city, so his house became her refuge.

For a while, Mutiso had a difficult time. He was a bachelor, and wasn’t used to the technicalities and skills to run a full household. Luckily enough, he has a good working relationship with his bank. Turns out his salary is processed through Co-op Bank, and that’s how he got help to absorb the sudden economic shock.

The military job is infamous for an erratic schedule – unplanned call ups and travel to remote places, often for extended times. For a few days after the impromptu arrival of his nephew and niece, Mutiso enjoyed relative calm. The kids adored him, and they spent a lot of time bonding and sampling fun spots in the city.

Then his job lived up to its billing. He suddenly received a call up for an operation along the volatile Somali border. There’s no time plan given for such operations, and Mutiso knew he had to plan ahead. His younger sister was still searching for a job. He had her register her younger kid in a school near their estate. The elder one was already in a girls’ boarding school.

On the day of departure, Mutiso logged into MCo-op Cash App and checked out salary advance loans. He was delighted to learn everyone whose salary processing was done through the bank had a leeway to apply a salary advance loan up to Ksh.200,000.00.

He didn’t need that much, though. Just enough money to cover school fees and living expenses for his household in his absence.

In a few minutes, the salary advance was conveniently processed. He withdrew the cash into phone. His sister was stunned by the ease of it. But she was worried he might be travelling to areas without internet coverage. Well, he explained, if he couldn’t access M-Coop Cash App, he could still access his account via dialing *667#.

#PesaIkoKwaMCoopCash is real. Thou shall not struggle with school fees. Dial *667# on your phone and apply for a salary advance loan straight to your phone.

How to Pick a Best Friend from a Crowd of ‘Best Friends’

I recently had an epiphany, listening to radio presenter, Jalang’o, aka Jalas, on Radio Maisha. For a comedian, he sometimes seems to make lots of sense. The topic that chilly morning was his unorthodox friend-picking criteria, based not on good times, but by the hard times he has gone through. It’s simple enough – pick the friend that sticks around when life goes off the rails.

Nicholas Okumo doesn’t need a comedian to teach him the ethics of basic friendship – just pick a friend that would pick you from a crowd to accompany him – for free – on an all-paid expenses trip to watch the AFCON Finals tonight, in Egypt.

Nick’s friend, Josephat Nyakundi was a lucky winner for a fully paid trip to Egypt, courtesy of Visa, to watch the AFCON Finals in Egypt. All the winners had to do was use their Coop Visa Card to pay their usual bills – buying goods and services. To add icing to that one-in-a-lifetime cake, the winners were accompanied by one other person, their choice.

I do not know if, presently, there’s a friend that I inspire enough to be their first choice to such a fete – in a narrow world crowded with adoring other-halves, patronizing relatives and prayer partners. Not that my friends are such keen soccer enthusiasts, anyways, but am glad most of them always tag along their Coop Visa cards conveniently using them to pay for fuel and other bills.

Perhaps, one day we can get to win a trip to something like the Lamu Cultural Festival.

Josephat Nyakundi had been pleasantly surprised to learn of his win to Egypt. On the material day, he hadn’t meant to use the card to pay his weekly tab at his favorite watering hole. He had a household constitution to follow, jointly formulated with his wife, Njoki. It had been just on a dare that he had taken the card along. Now he never leaves the house without his Visa Card.

In the Nyakundi-Njoki household, the Coop Visa card was to be strictly a household talisman. Pay hospital bills. Clear the weekly shopping bills at the supermarket. Pay for fuel at petrol stations during family trips.

Certainly not picking the Vodka tab with the boys at The Local. He had broken the rules, but Njoki was happy how well things had turned out. She was excited that her hubby had won the trip, and encouraged him to pick his long time soccer buddy, Nick. They watched most derbies together. She loved travelling, but couldn’t endure a minute of soccer.

In any case, she would use the weeks he’d be away to source for more carpets in Middle East. She dealt in rags and carpets at her high end outlet. She liked the idea her husband won’t be clearing beer tabs in Egypt over the card, she’d have it with her in Middle East. It’s always safer and convenient travelling with her card.

Oh, using Coop Card Visa card doesn’t incur any extra charges. No hidden charges.

Ignore the big boys, for a minute. We have an unlikely entry into the soccer arena. Picture a young girl, in early elementary school, watching today’s final with her mother. The endless possibilities in her future – the exposure, the enlightening.

Meet Natasha Angela, the lucky Jumbo Junior category winner, accompanied to Egypt by her mother Virginia Wamaitha. If reincarnation is real, this is who I’d love to be. This is a child the world has smiled upon, and shown it’s a world with endless possibilities.

At a young age, she has flown in a plane. She has witnessed firsthand, a once-in-a-lifetime happening most people in the world do not get to have. That’s amazing, thanks to her Jumbo Junior Account. Above all, Angela gets to treat her deserving mother on the world stage.

I would do anything to treat my mother on such a scale.



An Interestingly Simple but Puzzling Lesson on the Mechanics of Money

In my high school days, I met a very calm, patient lady. She was my languages teacher. She rocked black, horn-rimmed glasses, and had an eternal flowered scarf on her neck, and various brooches. I think she was pretty wise – she could look intently at a student – such piercing eyes, and give you a prediction of your career future.

Mrs. Apollo Agnes. She later left teaching and joined Co-Op Bank, for a managerial role.

If by chance she gets to read this, let her know those predictions were oddly accurate. Mostly, she did give positive reviews, but if you got on her nerves, well, her dark side showed. One of my then best friends had her wondering out loud if he would survive a possible gunning down past his 30’s.


Well, he survived, somehow, but he’s serving a stint at Kamiti Prison for handling stolen goods.

In her eyes, I was already a CEO, running a huge company, or at least some NGO, I think. Though her endorsement wasn’t exactly maternal, as I was a perennial bust in almost every crime – Noise Makers List, Monto List, Missed Morning Preps List, Sold School Piglets List, etc.

Every morning at assembly, she would be like, “….Munyeki and Company, please dress forward….” She made me CEO in Form Two North. Good enough. If only she had said I would be a billionaire……..

Anyways, I owe my elder brother, Joe, a lot in teaching me ways of the world. Especially economics, and how the money in the world moves. He had a degree in economics, and would really be irritating when he delved into the folds and crannies of his passion.

However, one New Year’s Eve, he showed me firsthand the mechanics of money, as he called it. It was his first year of employment, and that holiday was his first. In the village, partying starts just after Jamhuri Day, in December. It’s a fortnight of sin and debauchery. It’s the season to be merry, and do idiotic stuff. Joe wanted to treat his village crew – and he did.

Perhaps, too much. He ran out of cash just before New Year’s Eve.

January brings with it a load of blues, and responsibilities. Besides school fees for a few cousins he had drunkenly pledged to support, he needed to travel back to Mombasa. He didn’t seem fazed at all by his predicament, though I knew he was broke.


He had always banked with Co-Op Bank, and he had the mCo-Op Cash App. Joe coolly whips out his phone over breakfast on New Year’s Day, and takes a salary loan. That defined cool. Takes just a few minutes. But the best was yet to happen: his crash course on the mechanics of money.

This was his last day in the village. He takes me to town, which is a few miles off. He wants to spend his last day with me – his way of clearing his guilt – I had hardly seen him over the holiday. At the bus stage, he makes a withdrawal at an M-Pesa outlet, straight from his mCo-op Cash App. Convenient.

After a few drinks, Joe gets into his philosophical mood and starts to lecture me. He creates a pretty confusing make-believe tale, on the movement of the money.

Let’s start with the bank lending him money via mCo-op Cash App. 

We make for Cool Breeze Lodge. He inquires of any vacant rooms, and the lady at the counter nods. Joe slaps 2k on the counter, and without waiting for anyone, sprints up the stairs to check the rooms on the upper floor. He’s a regular, I see.

The lady at the counter takes the 2k, and goes out the main door towards the butchery next door. She pays the butcher at Ng’ang’a And Son’s Butchery 2k for meat supplied earlier in the day. She goes back. Am at the counter, still. She smiles at me, but I can see she doesn’t have the money.

Meanwhile, Ng’ang’a – the butcher – goes out of his premises and crosses the road. He finds a farmer who supplies him with fresh meat, he had a remaining bill unpaid, and so he pays him 2k. He then strolls back to his butchery.

The farmer abandons the Ojuok game he was playing against an old friend. He had been losing, anyways. Usually, he wins, but he had been distracted by a debt he had at the local Waigwa Agro Vet Store, a few meters away. He walks to the store and hands over the same 2k. He then walks back.

I am still at the counter. What’s taking Joe so long upstairs?

In a few minutes, I see a man in a white dust coat walk up to the counter. It’s Waigwa, the vet. He has had a running bill at this lounge, when he had treated his friends to a few drinks and roast goat meat. He hands over 2k. After a few moments of chit chat with the counter lady, he walks out.

The lady looks at the notes, bemusedly, and places them on the counter.

Almost as if on cue, Joe appears from the stairs.

Hizo rooms zenu ni chafu” He tells the lady. “Wacha tutajipanga kwingine”.

He picks up the 2k notes from the counter. We walk out.

“That’s how money works, Munyeki.” Joe tells me, over the rim of his glass. “My 2k makes everyone happy, and I still got to leave with it”.

What have I learnt? That puzzle still haunts me to date.