Bars Closed: Woman Turns Govt Directive Into Success Story

  • Two mugs of beer in a bar.
    Two mugs of beer on a counter top in a bar.
  • Working as a bar manager for the past 5 years has taught me one thing. I know nothing.

    Each day brought along brand new challenges, lessons and buckets of drama. Huge buckets of it.

    Try dealing with a drunkard who is convinced that he/she is a member of the Kenyatta family, and you'll understand why all employers insist on the importance of people skills.

    "I can buy this entire bar" "Do you know who I am" are some of the most common statements in my line of work.

    World Health Organization statement on Alcohol and Covid-19.
    World Health Organization statement on Alcohol and Covid-19.

    Then there are the fights. 99% of bar brawls always have a girl at the heart of them. Ok, I may be exaggerating, but this is my story.

    Luckily, I was born with the patience of a teacher.

    Born and raised in the hilly Meru countryside, I have always had to take the proverbial 'high road'. Bullies have a tendency to pick on the tiny girl.

    Growing up, I always wanted to become a lawyer, but life had other plans.

    My single father was laid off in the great retrenchment of 2008, and everything changed. However, that's a story for another day.

    Flash-forward to 2020, and there I was, hustling in the concrete jungle, Nairobi.

    Traffic at my workplace, a popular watering hole located along Moi avenue, had been dwindling over the last year.

    Loyalty is a foreign word to Nairobi revellers. They have a tendency to migrate to the newest bar around, and they were popping up all around the capital.

    The future didn't look bright. I have to thank my ex (Eddy) at this point.

    He was a business relations manager at Coop Bank in the city at the time. Maybe some day I'll tell you all about him.

    His role in this particular story is that he was the one who introduced me to Coop Bank. In retrospect, he may have been boosting his sales tally, but he actually ended up changing my life.

    From December 2017, I had been saving up religiously with an eye on two things, Law school and a bar of my own.

    From tips, to a chunk of my salary, to the occasional bonuses, I saved everything.

    With the market trend, it was better to be safe than sorry.

    I'm not a huge fan of financial institutions, but I have to hand it to my personal bank for always keeping me informed.

    Through their online banking platform, I could easily keep track of my progress. I always got a personalised email on the various loans I could access, thanks to my track record.

    That's how I ended up securing a 40-foot container in Buru Buru.

    I partitioned it into 3 units, rented out two and turned the last one into my very own wines and spirits shop.

    By January 2020, I was raking in more from my joint than my salary, and embarking on my second year of law school at the University of Nairobi. I wish my dad was alive to see how his only daughter had 'made it'.

    Then it happened. The one event that changed everything. Covid-19.

    Bars were on the list of first casualties. Social distancing and merry making just don't go together.

    Then came news that all schools would be closed indefinitely.

    Listening to CS Magoha's press briefings on schools reopening turned into a religion. At times they have left me confused but UoN soon announced the commencement of online classes.

    I have had to adapt my Buru Buru joint to stay afloat. Coop Bank agreed to top me up with 'something small'.

    I secured a nduthi and a licence to sell food as well.

    Mwenda (my nduthi guy) now does home deliveries. Both food and liquor.

    The pandemic hit hard, but I thank God for the wisdom to save up from early days, and for Eddy as well.

    I almost texted him after writing this down, it just doesn't feel like a good idea. Abarikiwe tu wherever he is.

    A model standing in front of an Mco-op Cash banner.
    A model standing in front of an Mco-op Cash banner.