- Did you grow up in Nairobi?
Yes I did. I grew up in Spring Valley. Actually, now that I think about it, my youth just kind of hummed along peacefully without any major incidents. This might sound like a boring existence, but I think it shows that my parents gave me the comfortable life that we all seek. For this I am ever grateful.
- What do you love about Nairobi?
The weather, of course. I think it’s quite a blessing that we have sunny weather all year round. It’s something I took for granted until foreigners kept pointing it out to me.
I also love that we’ve reached a point where M-PESA can be used in majority of retail outlets. Nowadays I only carry bus fare with me when I step out. I now walk easier without fear of losing money randomly in the streets. Business transactions are also made simpler because of the proliferation of mobile money.
The environmental consciousness. Nairobi is very green compared with other African cities. I like how we preserve our trees and this natural environment makes for a good thinking space.
- What would you change about Nairobi?
I would change the fact that it’s the only place for most Kenyans to find gainful employment. We need devolution to work as intended in order to bring up alternative places to work other than the capital city. The overcrowding in Nairobi is at the heart of most of the biggest issues facing Nairobi: traffic, water, electricity shortages and what have you. And you can’t blame people for looking for a better life, which right now, is concentrated in Nairobi. If that better life can be found elsewhere, I feel like Nairobi will be able to flourish as well under less population pressure.
- As a professional how is it working in Nairobi? Is Nairobi open to what you do or what could be better?
My company, an entertainment news website called Ghafla, is fully remote work based. With that one small adaptation, I have managed to sidestep a lot of the issues Nairobians face in going to work. I personally feel like an adaptive mindset works better in these parts of the world, because social progress tends to be slow.
Despite working from home though, I find that one problem I still face in my business is that clients pay so slowly. It’s as if nobody cares for payment timelines around here. I hope that Ghafla’s recent expansion to Tanzania and Uganda can alleviate this problem for the company. Also, the market is rather small, so you need to have at least a regional outlook if you want to go far.
I find the difficulty is that Nairobi is such a tough crowd in terms of entertainment. You need to really shock Nairobians for them to pay attention. When I look at Ghafla Tanzania for example, they are way easier to please
In terms of opportunities, Nairobi still has some big niches online that are untapped. For young entrepreneurs, this is a goldmine. The government also seems to be supporting the tech industry heavily, especially fiber optic laying, which has opened up the internet as an industry.
- If you had a tourist friend coming in from outside the country what three things would you say to sell them the idea that Nairobi is worth visiting?
Like I said before, the weather. Fantastic mild climate all year round, except for a few weeks in the middle. Other places experience extreme cold or hot weather, and varying times for sunset and sunrise. Nairobi is a worthwhile break from all that.
Also, if you want fast internet, we have the best internet in Africa.
If you’re curious about mobile money, Nairobi is the world leader in that area. Very few people fully appreciate the leaps we have made in technology in Kenya.