The saying ‘Good Old Days’ is outdated, and this is why the new times are hundred times better!

Good riddance to the good old days.

It’s debatable if the past days indeed merit the ‘Good Old Days’ tag. If you flinch whenever you hear that line, you ain’t alone. Everything new is better.

Old days versus new days, which is better?

The progressive amongst us would fight tooth and nail for new times. Healthcare is better. Roads and rail systems are better. In the so-called ‘Good Old Days’, simple mail would take ages to reach the intended party. There’s been huge strides in human rights activism and community awareness on topical issues like gender equality, FGM or even cattle rustling.

New is certainly better.

In urban and rural landscapes, a shopping center would have an influential, family-run business. This business would occupy an imposing building middle of the settlement, or a major street. The major flaw with such family-ran businesses, is that they’d be named after the family patriarch, and tag the sons.

Like, Mungai & Sons Textiles. Or, Mutisya & Sons Enterprises.

It didn’t matter if that family had a single son and several daughters, they’d be ignored. In some cases, the sons in a family would be useless drunks in that society, they’d still be tagged beside the founding father in the business.

Luckily, thanks to a spirited gender equality campaign, things have changed. The feminine gender has proved to be better entrepreneurs and better business minds to not run generational investments to the ground.

Bang in the middle of Kericho Town’s business district, nestled in a behemoth of a glass building, runs a girl-run business that’s the envy of other family-owned businesses.

We celebrate Jebet & Daughters Bakers Ltd, in Kericho Town.

Jebet is a robust, brilliant lady – perhaps in her early 60’s – who founded and grew a baking business from a modest, cramped corridor-shop in the late 90’s. While it’s hard to picture her humble beginnings considering her current level, Rebecca intimates a difficult start. She’d dropped from school and found employment as a house girl, but quit after a few months to follow her passion. She’d rent a tiny shop off a corridor.

She’d bake tea cakes, then popularly known as Kaimati – and deliver to other businesses within her street.

Over the years, Jebet would grow from a tiny shop, rent bigger space, and hire staff. Besides, she’d juggle this motherhood as she was blessed with twin daughters one year into the business. However, the father to the twins passed away in a road crash. She’d chosen to remain strong and focused to keep her business afloat, and raise her daughters.

Those were the hard days. The business has grown to command a huge section of the bread industry in the Rift Valley. She’d incorporate her daughters, after college. Jebet and Daughters Ltd was born, and has since landed contracts to supply bread and confectionery to government establishments, NGO’s and learning institutions.

During this interview, the business mogul shuns formalities – insists to be addressed simply as ‘Jebet’. She’s quick to credit their success to a good working relationship with their banking partner, Co-op Bank.

Becky tells us that Coop has heavily invested in the convenient e-Commerce solution. It allows her to easily and safely make transactions with institutions, and receive instant updates on payments.

All payments are made to her business’s Co-op bank account, and the e-Commerce solution has an outstanding real-time processing speed. For NGO’s clients, the solution also allows payments in any currency – GBP, USD, EURO, or KES, which is convenient for both parties.

On her shop network in various streets, which used to run 24 hours before the Covid-19 pandemic, she insists on cashless payments. The Co-op Bank M-Pesa Paybill number 400200 is displayed conspicuously – allows direct payments to her Co-op Bank account. This is the same case with outlets in neighboring towns – the bank had assisted her get M-Pesa Till numbers for each outlet. All this is done free of charge.

It’s fascinating to learn how this business lady runs her business from a central office, and still find time for chit chat. Her business template would be a good starting point for other business owners with a desire to survive the harsh economic state in the country.

Visit the nearest Co-op Bank branch to learn about the e-Commerce solution for your business, or log into the online banking platform. The bank shall also assist you acquire M-Pesa till numbers to facilitate cashless payments.

Long live Jebet & Daughters Bakers Ltd, Kericho.

Does your neighborhood have that oddly-paired, yet popular couple that would break your heart if they moved away?

Every apartment block, or neighborhood has that one couple. That one couple that defines the life of that settlement. It’s usually a couple of seemingly mismatching partners – either in temperament or physical parameters.

The husband may be a dark, menacing, unsightly beast, while the wife comes off as fragile, beautiful and comely. The Beauty and the Beast fairy tale scenario. In other instances, the wife may be a landmine always waiting to explode, often in cross-balcony angry altercations – perhaps, even physical tussles. The hubby, though, contrasts as a living teddy bear, hard to irritate and always smiling.

Yet, they live happily.

I have been a Ruaka resident ever since I landed in Nairobi. Everyone knows everyone in my neighborhood – akin to an Ujamaa Village in pre-independence Tanzania.

Presently, I live in an apartment block off the main street, Munyeki Street. This section is hailed as Ruaka’s main artery in grocery and cereals.

This neighborhood has that one interesting couple.

Nyawira is a pleasant, bubbly, middle-aged light-skinned lady with a ground floor shop selling cereals and general household goods. She is always smiling and her infectious laughter rings along the busy street all day long. As expected, her shop is always ringed with customers – some haggling just for haggling’s sake.

Directly across the street, there’s Nyawira’s husband with a wholesale and retail charcoal outlet. He’s not a man of many words. He’s fondly known amongst resident college students as Mr. Grumpy. Stacked along his shop’s veranda, there are rows and rows of metallic tins brimming with charcoal. Unlike his chatty wife across the street, Mr. Grumpy’s premises is a No-Haggling Zone.

“Nipe makaa ya fifty”, a client says. Mr. Grumpy points at the relevant metallic tin.

The regulars know Mr. Grumpy’s work ethics. No one offers cash. There’s a colored poster on his door with a Lipa Na Mpesa Till Number 400200. All clients pay via the number, and Mr. Grumpy checks his battered phone. The number allows direct deposits to their Co-op Bank account.

Across the street, it sounds like a fun fair. Nyawira is juggling business with a couple of women and a little bit of good-natured banter.

“Mi staki mniletee Corona hapa!” Nyawira shrieks. “Keep distance. I still have a husband to look after!”

They entirely turn to look at Mr. Grumpy lounging in his seat across the street. Mr. Grumpy adds a new brow line to his usual scowl, for effects.

“Na staki pesa cash hapa.” Nyawira is at it again. “If pesa zenu ziko kwa bank account, piga transfer direct to my Co-op Bank account.”

“What if I don’t bank with them?” Asks Lucy, new at the shop.

“Usijali mamaa,” Nyawira soothingly assures her. “Co-op Bank iko na solution noma sana. Wana accept payments even from other banks. Ama vipi bwanangu?” She teases her husband scowling across the street.

“Inaitwa the e-Commerce solution by Co-op Bank.” Mr. Grumpy growls. “Ata ukiwa na Dollars ama Pounds wako sawa”.

Legend has it that Mr. Grumpy has a definite number of daily words, and perhaps such a statement may have exhausted it. No worry, his cheery wife will make up for it.

Real comedy comes when a customer wants items form both shops. They pick a tin of charcoal from Mr. Grumpy and cross the street to pick groceries from Nyawira. Since it’s the same till number, there’s a comical exchange between them as they confirm the bills and payments.

If this couple ever decides to move from this street, a lot of us shall weep, and grieve in sack cloth. That unlikely couple is the life of our neighborhood.


Why the local barber shop is a favorite daily stop for your man, though he takes a monthly shave!

There’s a common myth that’s taken root around us.

Has you heard someone say men do not engage in gossip? Well, let this myth be put to death by public stoning, just because it’s a lot of paperwork getting the largely conservative government to approve and provide a suitable firing squad.

Men gossip, and generally spread slander and hearsay to a great extent.

The only difference from women – accepted as ‘genetically programmed’ for gossip – is that the male gender is tactical while at it. Also, men hardly gossip out of spite or indignation but rather as a form of mild entertainment.

The male gender also rarely keep grudges. Out of sight, Out of mind.

Perhaps, the main reason that fuels the myth, is that men have a singular respect for their audience, and venue of this gossip. No self-respecting man will blurt information to a random neighbor they only meet on the stair landing.

Men have a circle of friends, and, most importantly, a purely masculine ‘gossip’ space devoid of the other gender that Biblically shaved Samson.

The Barber Shop. That neighborhood Kinyozi.

In the pre-Covid-19 days, the local barber shop was always packed. It was a typical man cave. Men would meet every evening after work to swap war stories. Modern war stories? Well, exaggerated versions of work and love conquests, EPL probable winners and definite losers…….list is endless.

In between, someone remembers that some flashy foreigner living on 2nd floor in his apartment block ships in mysterious bulky boxes every Tuesday at midnight. That juicy gem doesn’t leave the hallowed man cave.

A casual stroll to my Kinyozi gets me disappointed. I needed a trim, and stories. Its open, but none of the usual crowd. The seasoned barber/owner – Ricaldo – is also not at the premise, and his apprentice tells me he’s doing a house call.

In the face of the pandemic, Ricaldo has had to re-think tactics to keep his business afloat. He no longer allows a crowd at the premises. He offers new clients sanitization fluids and a surgical face masks free of charges. For regular clients, he does house calls – a client calls and makes an appointment for home services.

I know, not much for macho war stories in the house with the missus and kids around, neh? Can this pandemic end already!

Ricardo charges a small fee above the service fees, depending on the client’s home address to manage the overheads shuttling all over the estate.

He further embraced cashless payments for obvious reasons – liquid cash increases the risk of Covid-19 infection, and security concerns.

Ricaldo has a Co-op Bank account which allows clients to send money directly into the account using the Lipa Na M-Pesa Paybill number 400200 (at no cost). He’d also visited the local Co-op Bank branch whose staff assisted him acquire a Till Number for his barber shop – any payments are sent to his account. He monitors his apprentice’s payments in real time.

Ricaldo leans towards me. Like, someone with a huge secret.

“Well, I visited Kioko’s apartment block and got called to a door on 2nd floor. Turns out its full of some flashy foreigners….” He trails off.

“And? Come on, man!”

“Never mind. Just know they paid me very well – in US dollars and Sterling pounds. Directly to my Co-op Bank account – na si unapenda mushene jamaa!”

That’s how I first learnt of Co-op Bank’s iconic E-commerce solution for business owners.

Contact the nearest Co-op Bank branch for more details.