When a mobile loan saves you

My love-hate affair with loan apps began with whiskey-gin sherehe

In Summary

• I turned to Fuliza in my hour of need, three years later I'm yet to shake it off

A woman uses her phone
A woman uses her phone

You don’t know about being broke until you think of selling a kidney or taking a mobile loan. That is how my love-hate relationship with Fuliza began.

It was one of those weekends where you prioritise a night out. This was back in 2021, and my friends and I had decided to take our sherehe to Westlands.

It was during the Covid-19 season, and then-President Uhuru Kenyatta had imposed a 10pm curfew countrywide. We reached our destination, which was Bahama Breeze, at around 7pm, knowing very well that we only had a few hours to have a good time or else we would find ourselves in a police cell until Monday.

Came the bottles of gin and whiskey, and we zealously guzzled them down, because ‘Yolo’ (You Only Live Once). Little did I know that my M-Pesa balance was literally crying out for help. But anyway, I soldiered on with the tequila shots, which my friend suggested I take two of each (a very bad decision). And I told myself, “Cheers” and “Pesa hurudi.”

Time went by and, luckily, my friends and I ordered an Uber back home, which we were to carpool, since we both lived in the same student residential area.

The shock came the next day. Actually, we should have a name for the shock that comes after checking your M-Pesa balance after a night out; M-Shtuka? M-Shangao? Well, maybe Ivy Chelimo will help us come up with another name just as she came up with the popular “Riggy-G”. Whatever they said about your M-Pesa balance looking like a radio station channel happened to me at that moment.

I had spent the following week’s allowance and couldn’t access anymore till the other week. That’s how I remembered the recently launched loaning scheme by Safaricom, Fuliza. In my keypad, I dialed the code for it and opted in.

Luckily, they awarded me a Sh500 starting loan, and at that point, I felt like I had won the lottery. That would push me for three or four days. All I had to do was survive on a packet of Indomie and smochas. I was also praying that the beeping sound of the token machine would stay on hold for a few days.

You would’ve thought that I learnt a lesson after the M-Shtuka incident, but in my case, it was once bitten, never shy. Three years after that incident, I’m still a loyal customer of Fuliza. Every day, I keep hoping they will reward my loyalty by raising my limit, but it seems they aren’t planning to. My New Year’s resolution was to opt out of the shackles of debt, but it seems that day is just not today.

Nothing really prepares you for how fast money comes and goes, especially when managing your own funds. One day, our parents are saving money on our behalf in children’s savings accounts, and the next day, you’re in a cyber cafe, applying for your KRA pin, which is needed in opening your own debit account, and before you know it, you have to start taking responsibility.

It’s a water and oil density battle. Save and spend it well, or just blow it all away, as people who use the mantra “Tumia pesa hadi ikuzoee” say. Now, I would’ve talked about how I didn’t hesitate to apply for the Hustler Fund, but that’s a story for another day.

WATCH: The latest videos from the Star