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February 17, 2019

There is no end to the Nairobi loan disease

There is no end to the Nairobi loan disease.
There is no end to the Nairobi loan disease.

In the last few weeks, we have been talking about deadly diseases – Ebola and Marburg, which have killed more than 4,000 people in West Africa. Thank God no case of Ebola has been reported in our country and we can freely interact with each other. But there is another malady afflicting Nairobians – the disease of borrowing money from banks. How do we fight this disease that very few people seem to fear? Most Nairobians have a strong urge to borrow from their banks. It is difficult to explain their motivation.

Is it because some employees, after a few years in employment, become eligible to obtain credit facilities? Not so long ago, acquiring a loan without collateral was next to impossible. A small population owned assets such as cars and title deeds – those who did not need loans to develop themselves.

In recent times, credit facilities have become more easily accessible. Banks have realised lending out money is an avenue to make more money and want to cash in on ignorant Kenyans. Soft loans are also available to hustlers running small businesses. The demand for the money is so high that banks are ‘hawking’ Personal Unsecured Loans in workplaces, churches and homes to those affected by borrowing bug.

The requirements for the loans are minimal and almost all employed fellows can meet them. A pay slip and a letter from your employer confirming you are a staffer is all you need to secure cash. It helps if you are a customer of the lending bank as its bankers can tell your worth. In fact, if a reasonable amount of money is credited into your account every month, don’t be too surprised to get a call from your bank asking you if you would consider taking a loan.

If borrowers qualify for the loan, responsible ones do everything possible to repay it in timely fashion to avoid drama. Unfortunately, this is a rare phenomenon among Nairobians as some of their reasons for borrowing money are baffling. They borrow small loans to buy expensive furniture – a big screen TV, a fancy cooker and so on. Bigger loans are for buying luxurious cars – vehicles they do not need but are for show off when out having a drink with friends over the weekend.

With borrowers buying state-of-the-art items that range from the Victoria Court sofa sets to the latest washing machine from Korea – which can wash clothes and dry them – with the soft loans, trouble begins. The borrowers have no choice but adjust to their minimal salaries. With time, their desire to own the latest high-tech machines sets in when an electronic firm advertises there is a newer washing machine from Korea, which can wash, dry, iron and arrange clothes in a wardrobe, on offer. Then you hear of TVs, which are a few inches wider and a few inches thinner, and have the latest operating software.This is tempting for someone with an ‘obsolete’ electronic, and whose Sh30,000 of their hard-earned cash is being deducted every month, and will do so for two years to repay the money he spent on it.

This is just a mild case of the loan disease. If the borrowers are patient and prudent in their spending, they clear their loans first before taking another one. The disease is much more serious on people who, for no good reason, borrow huge sums of money just because they can. Civil servants, especially teachers, and those in relatively secure jobs are the hardest hit because chances of them losing their jobs are very slim. These folks borrow loans to offset loans that it gets to the extent where loan repayments eat into their salaries leaving them with a paltry Sh200 at the end of the month to take home. I am sure you can identify people with advanced loan disease. They owe every one in their circles, depending on how they are able to pull their strings.

Venue Review: Hornbill 2.0, Buruburu Shopping Centre

I’ve started warming up to Buruburu Shopping Centre to the East of Nairobi. Last Friday night I was having a drink at the pub/lounge called Hornbill 2.0 in the area. The pub stands in a central position in the busy shopping centre so it is difficult to miss it.

On entering the pub, you quickly notice that despite the pub being on the ground floor, a wheelchair user would still have difficulties accessing it. However, I liked what I saw when I got inside.

It is partitioned into several sections where people can enjoy their drinks in the evening privately. The décor of pub was something. On the walls were posters of some well-known artistes in days gone by. The pub has a lounge with comfortable seats, which at the time were occupied by not-too-old punters, having drinks. There was an area at the back that offers privacy where one can relax. I settled at the bar counter at the front and ordered my usual cold Tusker, which was retailing Sh170. Not ideal for that location.

I sipped my cold beer as I listened to hit songs of the 90s and early 2000. I hadn’t listened to the music in a long while. Songs by Brandy, Luniz, Foxy Brown, Keith Sweat, Notorious BIG and a song called 5 O’clock in the morning by rapper Nonchalant rent the air. However, I don’t know if this is the kind of music played in the place on a typical Friday. I enjoyed going back memory lane. The videos of the music were showing on the TV screens in the pub. I was assured by the friendly barman that during the weekend, they air sports for fans.

The crowd comprised mainly of hype professionals and a mix of slightly younger and older folks.

Quick recap of the pub

Good: Great décor, decent location, good service, clean washrooms, TV for sports fans.

Bad: Disability unfriendly, emergency exits not clearly marked.

My verdict: Lovers of Macarena, pirate, rump shaker and the shuffle dancing styles would love this place on a Friday.

Poll of the day