Michael’s taxi business was not generating enough income to fend for his family and pay school fees for his 3 children. He had spent days racking his brains on where to get additional income to supplement what he was earning from taxi.
The second hand shoes business he had opened in Garissa was not doing very well because of the security threat in that part of the country.
An idea came to his mind. An officer from his bank had contacted him and talked about a loan. He had to go to the bank and find out how much they could offer in terms of a loan. If this facility went through, he planned on opening a boutique for his wife. With three businesses, God willing, he would earn enough income to take care of his family and his parents and siblings and relatives back in Mukurweini.
Do you know that the difference between we Africans and our European counterpart is that we support up to 3 generations backward while most Wazungus eat their grandparents wealth without touching their parents’.
The bank granted him a kes shs 250,000 loan facility to be repaid in one year. The net amount he got from the loan after all fees and charges was kes 238,000. With this money he could now start a third income generating stream. Life would change. No more relying solely on the irregular taxi income. His family’s living standard would go up. He would move from the single room in Huruma to at least a bed sitter. His eldest son was now in class 7. It is not very wise and it is also very uncomfortable to share a 10*10 room with a 12 year old. These kids know things way beyond their ages. In an year’s time he would be facing the knife; he would be initiated into manhood. In any ideal situation, he at least needed to have a room to himself or with his two siblings.
The wife was involved in all these plans. She had signed for the loan as a co-borrower. She understood from the word go that the money was meant to start a boutique for her to run. Michael went a step further and deposited the money in her account as they looked for a suitable location to open the shop.
One evening Michael gets into the house. The wife is upbeat. She is so elated so much so that Michael notices she has shed 5 years from her age.
How was your day? She asks gleefully.
My day was fine, what about you people?
Our day was OK.
Will you bathe or eat first?
Michael couldn’t remember the last time this question was posed to him.
Let me eat first, I am famished.
Aa we nawe, you shoud bathe, then eat. That way you feel so refreshed.
Nope! I eat and then take a bath, that way I feel revitalized.
Hahaha….. whatever you wish.
A hearty meal of extra soft chapatis and minji stew was served. Michael ate heartily to his full eager all along to know what his wife was up to. There was no mistaking she had something up her sleeve.
He finished eating and went to the bathroom located in the far corner of the plot where the wife had already poured him warm water in a karai. He took a bath and went back to house.
The kids were glued to the 14” telly watching their favourite show. He tried to prod them into a light discussion but their full concentration was on the TV. His wife would join him later after washing the dishes, taking a bath and converting the sitting area into the children’s sleeping area.
In a low tone, Michael postulated, you have not told me what happened during the day, you are so happy and jovial tonight. You look younger altogether. Can you share with me.
Why do you say so my husband? It is nothing really. I am just happy that soon we will be moving to a bigger house and life is going to be different for us all.
I am still not convinced. It is now a week since I laid out my plans to you about opening that business and in that one week, today stands out.
They slept without the wife disclosing her source of happiness. The wife couldn’t wait for tomorrow. Things would change for the better.
Michael left early the following day since he had to take a client to the airport and this had to be done early to beat the traffic Jam.
He spent the morning hours trying to think about what would have made his wife so happy yesternight. When he could not find an answer he brushed the matter aside and committed it to the less important register in the brain.
The day eased on like any other.
Meanwhile the wife was preparing for a journey to Kagio Kirinyaga County. The previous day, a lady friend had introduced her to three men and one lady who specialized in sale and supply of foliar fertilizer. She and the friend had accompanied the three to Kagio where they had delivered 50 gallons of foliar fertilizer. The gallons were sold at kes 20,000 each and the buyers placed an order of an additional 100 gallons insisting that the delivery should be urgent since farmers were in desperate need of the foliar as their horticultural crops in the area would go to waste if not treated with the foliar feed at the current stage of growth. She learnt that the people who had bought the foliar would in turn dilute it in the ratio of 1:30 meaning one original gallon would make 30 others and the diluted foliar would sell at kes 1,000 per gallon.
On their journey back, the men expressed concern that they would not be able to raise enough money to buy 100 gallons since each gallon cost kes 11,500 from the manufacturer and it would require them kes 1,115,000to purchase 100 gallons.
Ngugi, how much do we have so far?
We only have the money we have received from today’s sale that is kes 575,000 and we have about kes 300,000 in the bank.
So that makes it 875,000? We are still short of the figure by kes 275,000.
How are we going to raise this amount between now and the end of the day since we must procure the fertilizer today today?
The lady (Michael’s wife friend ) asked. Wa Erick, you don’t have any money with you?
They can buy 80 gallons with the money they have and you buy the 20 extra gallons with your money. The sale will be yours. You are going to make kes 400,000 just like that. I wish I had any money with me.
Michaels wife, after a long silence, said she would raise kes 230,000 on condition that the 20 gallons would be hers to which everybody agreed.
She couldn’t let an opportunity to get rich pass her.
After all she had known poverty since …. well since she could recall.
You never know which channel or method God will use to get you out of Misri into Canaan. He will not necessary take you through the long journey around the Arabian desert considering that you might encounter men with funny beards who only speak two words ,Allahu Akbar, and who might be tempted to sever your head from your torso. He can take you through the Suez canal -a very short journey.
When they reached Nairobi, she went to her bank and withdrew kes 230,000 and accompanied her new found entrepreneurs to Kariobangi where they paid for 100 immaculate white sealed gallons packed into boxes and sealed further with masking tape. The boxes were labelled Twiga Money Maker Foliar Feed and a warning ‘Handle with Care’.
Anything that fetches almost 100% profit surely needs to handled with care.
They left Kariobangi and headed back to Huruma. Michael’s wife took her 20 gallons packed into 2 big boxes to her small room. The team would travel back to Kagio the following day. Since the boxes couldn’t fit into her already full room without attracting Michael’s attention, she talked a trusted friendly neighbour into keeping the boxes for her overnight.
Tomorrow would be the day that she would bid poverty good by. The old Kikuyu wahengas were right when they said that poverty doesn’t have roots and eating poorly today cannot prevent your from eating a decent meal tomorrow.
She had 20 gallons of foliar bought at kes 11,500 each that would sell at kes 20,000 making a cool 8,500 per gallon. She would keep the profits and rebank the loan money.
She even contemplated buying more foliar with the money before returning the capital to the bank.
Michael would be so happy with her business acumen and ability to multiply the loan money in such a short duration. in her mind she was saying to hell with boutiques. Who in their right mind starts boutique business when foliar is so lucrative? If everything went according to plan, they would offset the bank loan before time and stay free from debts. The bank can lend the money to the less fortunate in the society who desperately need borrowed capital.
The fellow businessmen didn’t turn up at the agreed time the following morning.
Ten o’clock, they had not turned up.
Mid day, they were nowhere to be seen.
Her friend was unavailable on phone and the telephone provider’s lady sounded as if she knew something was not very straight.
Desperation kicked in.
By two o’clock she was experiencing a bout of diarrhoea.
She thought of calling Michael but this thought made her clothes soak in sweat.
She went to bed feeling so weak and naturing a feeble hope that the foliar people would still turn up.
By Five o’clock she was already very sick.
Michael came from work and found the wife in bed all of yesterday’s joy somewhat gone.
After a lot of prodding, she narrated to Michael all what transpired the day before. Michael asked to see the Foliar feed.
The wife was so sick to fetch it from the neighbour’s house.
The contents of the gallons was pure water(Well, not very pure because it could have been fetched anywhere even from Mathare river). Michael is still servicing the loan.