It’s interesting how time flies. I recently saw a meme making fun of the fact that all of us born in the 1980s will all be turning 40 over the next five or seven years. I will be turning 40 in 2027, and yet I feel like I am still that young man of the dot com generation.
My generation grew up when the internet was the hot thing, which is why we gained the name - the dot coms. For the longest time, I have held on to the belief that I was eternally young, forever a part of that vibrant, tech-savvy generation that was going to change the world.
And there were many innovations that we witnessed change the world. We started using computers in the era of diskettes and floppy disks. Then came Myspace, ald later Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tiktok - bado sisi tuko.
Time, however, is an equaliser. I have not been spared from the vagaries of age. It’s not an event, but there are some interesting hints that show you are aging. Actually, it’s more like a subtle shift in perspective.
Now I find myself pondering over retirement plans, spending most of my Saturdays in dusty places looking for prime pieces of land some people call buroti maguta maguta.
The casual hangouts with friends have transformed into meticulously scheduled events. Oftentimes, that “let’s meet up for lunch” takes a year before the lunch actually happens.
Then there are the hangouts with my younger sister, Emma, and her contemporaries. They treat me as an elder statesman, especially when I start regaling them stories that start with “back in our days…”. Once in a while, I hear someone innocently describe me as a “mubaba”. This is why I have accepted that each generation has its unique identity.
Emma was my parent’s retirement baby. We have a 15-year age difference. For perspective, my firstborn, Noni, - is 7 - their age difference is smaller than between me and our beloved lastborn.
She joined campus last year. However, after completing her first year in May, they were sent on a 9-month semester break. They were told to report to school in January 2024.
The family decided that she was better off taking a short course in Nairobi - rather than spending time in our rural home where her skills would have limited use.
I talked to my wife and since we had an extra bedroom that we do not use, we agreed to host her. Of course, my biggest worry was this so-called attitude from Gen Z. I have interacted with a number of them at work. It can take a bit of time to get used to their unique worldviews.
We agreed that on the days she was not working, she would help us in running routine chores such as picking up Noni from school, going to the market, etc.
We also agreed that she would be proactive in identifying job opportunities that might help improve her career prospects. I implored her the need to start developing habits that would help propel her career forward, including personal discipline, hard work, and time management.
By mid-June, I felt like I had been preaching to the converted. Emma had settled at my place with exceptional maturity. She had not only done everything as expected, but she had gone above and beyond.
On top of picking Noni up from school, she had made acquaintance with other kids in our estate and was actively helping them with homework. She was helping clean our house, and preparing meals, while at the same time keeping up with her coursework - even teaching me some of the cool coding stuff she was learning.
One Sunday afternoon, she approached me at the dinner table. She informed me that she was thinking of setting up a small business where she was sure to make a decent amount of money during her spare time.
“I have noticed that most people here don’t do their own laundry. They either hire cleaning ladies or take their clothes to the laundry store. I did my research and the nearest one is almost five kilometers away.”
“I have an idea to set up a small laundry business here. You have a big laundry room, all we need is a washing machine and a dryer. I have already talked to some of the neighbors and they would be willing to use such a service,” she said.
She had taken the trouble to come up with a small business proposal where she explained the business case and the projected revenues. I was impressed.
Unfortunately, the timing was awful as I was in the middle of paying school fees for Noni. Getting nearly Ksh80,000 in the current economy was not going to be easy.
Still, I felt Emma was onto something great which needed to be nurtured. I called my siblings about it, but the only concern was the fact that their budgets were tight - cost of living going up and all.
If we combined our efforts, we could potentially raise the money by November - making small installments over 5 months. However, Emma’s long holiday was coming to an end in January 2024.
Although she was committed to continuing the business even after resuming her studies, we felt the two months would be inadequate for her to fully set up in a way that it would continue even after she resumed her university studies.
I was still actively thinking about the best way forward when my wife asked me why I couldn’t use my credit card.
“You have a limit of Ksh100k, why don’t you use it to buy the washing machine, then your siblings can help with the rest.”
“I don't think that will work babe, yes I can get the Ksh100,000 but how do I repay? The interest-free window for my Absa credit card is up to 50 days. That is not enough time for me to repay that kind of money,” I told her.
“You haven’t seen those Buy Now Lipa Later stickers? Absa has introduced a Buy Now Pay Later credit card. You just swipe kama kawaida and you convert the purchase into a Buy Now Lipa Later arrangement. You then have up to 12 months to repay,” she explained it.
After reading more about the Absa BNPL service, I decided to use it because it offered me a chance to support my sister’s project while at the same time preserving my cash flow.
I reasoned that if it worked, part of her earnings would go towards paying for the instalments. Having done business in the past, I knew there was a chance of it failing but even in such an eventuality, I would comfortably service the instalments without affecting my other financial responsibilities.
On July 15, on a very cold Saturday morning, we visited a nearby mall where I picked the washing machine. I swiped my credit card within two minutes, I had converted the purchase into the Lipa Later plan.
By then my sister had already made some posters announcing the opening of her home laundromat. A few neighbours graced her modest launch, some even dropped their clothes - marking a promising start for the nascent business.
Over the past month, I have watched in awe as my laundry room has transformed into a small factory. Emma’s Home Laundry has become the talk of the estate, partly due to her thorough work and her marketing skills. She has recently started getting orders from neighbouring estates. Some parents have sent their GenZ kids for mentorship and a possible apprentice!
Between Monday and Wednesday when she is taking her classes, the laundromat operates only during the evenings. She works with the security guards to organise drop-offs and pick-ups on these days.
She charges Ksh80 per kilo and makes about Ksh1,000 on each of these days. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday are her busiest days, she makes an average of Ksh2,500 on each of these days.
This comes to about Ksh10,500 per week and about Ksh40,000 per month. In this past month, our average electricity consumption has gone up by Ksh5,000 which Emma graciously offered to offset.
The water bill went up by Ksh1,500 in July while she had been in business for half the month. The projected costs include Ksh8,000 for electricity and water. Another Ksh5,000 has gone to delivery services - she negotiated with one rider on the condition that she got a discount. The arrangement has seen her transport costs reduce and her customers are able to receive faster deliveries.
An average of Ksh7,000 has gone to purchasing detergents and other related materials, as well as to marketing her business both online and on the ground.
This means her average monthly profit is Ksh20,000. And the business is growing. Her current project involves coding to build a mobile platform where more people can access the laundry service.
We have not had a conversation about my share of the profits. As the principal investor, I am content with the free laundry services. I am a very proud big brother. I am happy that the Absa BNPL credit card service came through for me when I needed financing to help my sister’s dream come true. They sky is the limit!
Are you interested in the Absa Buy Now Pay Later service? You can start by making your application for the Absa credit card here. Once you have the credit card, you can convert qualifying purchases instantly - no paperwork, no wait.