Are investors in Kenya crazy?

I went back to school. Shocking I know, but that’s what happened. It is not as bad as you think – I am actually enjoying it. Anyway, last week we had an interesting discussion in class.


Let us consider the following scenario. You’re an investor. You have some 5 million shillings that you want to invest somewhere. You are a Kenyan living in Kenya. Now, the last assumption is important because we all know what all your friends and family will tell you to do: buy a house, get paid rent monthly.

So let us say that you buy a 5 million house in Mlolongo. How much rent can you get for such a property? I would argue that you will get nothing more than KES 25,000/- per month for a house in Mlolongo that costs KES 5,000,000 to buy. Am I wrong? Contest that in the comments below.

So you’ll be getting 25000 x 12 = 300,000 a year. 300k per year is a 6% return on your investment. Nice eh? Nope. It is actually a shockingly bad return on investment.

Right now (the link leads to a PDF document) you can invest in a Kenya government bond which will give you about 12% returns per year. DOUBLE what you get from a rental real estate investment. This is crazy.

Government bonds are generally thought of as “risk free” investments because the government will always, always pay up. This may not be true everywhere in the world but you get what I mean, right? if an investor is a rational investor (i.e. not stupid) then they will never invest in anything if it returns less than the risk free government bond. Why would you take any risk anywhere if you have a guaranteed 0 risk investment as an option?

If you follow this train of thought then it means that any other good investment simply HAS TO yield a higher level of returns than the government rate. Why? Because it is higher risk. A house can burn down but the government can never “burn down”… see what I mean? Why would you invest in something higher risk, for less returns? It simply doesn’t make sense. Any right-thinking person would never ever do it.

And yet Kenyan “investors” do it all the time. Why is this? Are we crazy??

Small note
I know, I know, there exists governments out there (maybe even in here) that can and do default. But: 1) we’re assuming this is not the case and 2) if a government defaults then all the houses and other investments in that country also go up in smoke.

Invest for 1,000!

I was on leave for three weeks recently, and I realized just how fun it is to do nothing but sleep, watch TV, and get paid. I wondered if it was possible to do this all year round without marrying a rich old man. Today, I’ve discovered a way to do that, and all without leaving my seat!

It started when I was on Google Reader this morning. I bumped into this article explaining how I could start a mutual fund for as little as 1,000/=. I spent the next few hours browsing the Old Mutual site, and a while longer trying to figure out the system.

Here’s how it works. The minimum amount you can invest for a mutual fund is 50,000/=. But Old Mutual has introduced a new service called i-Invest, where you can open a mutual fund with 4,800/=. The best part is you can do it all right on your mobile phone! All you have to do is dial *480# and follow the instructions. The process takes all of two minutes to complete.

Given my issues with technology, signing up was not as simple as it should have been. I spent an hour trying to input my details, but I kept getting an error message. I tweeted Old Mutual for help, and they gave me a number to call. They also offered to call me back, which I thought was really nice of them.

After spending half an hour on the phone getting free financial advice from Isaac, I spent another hour trying to sign up. As it turns out, my mistake had nothing to do with technology. The reason I kept getting error messages is that according to the system, I was spelling my own name wrong. Apparently, it doesn’t recognize apostrophes.

Once I corrected the ‘typo’ it took me less than ten minutes to get everything done. I emailed a scanned copy of my ID to Old Mutual and am now the proud owner of my very own mutual fund, so yay! I’m sure that’s not financially accurate, but the point is I now have a portion of Old Mutual and an opportunity to sit back and let my money work for me.

The beauty of this account is I can do everything online, or rather, on my mobile phone. I can check my balance, withdraw, invest, and top-up my account whenever and wherever there’s battery power and Safaricom network.

Okay, here are the facts. For today only, you can open your account with 1,000/=. After that, you need a minimum of 4,800/= to get started. Once your account is open, you can top-up as little as 480/=. There are no requirements for monthly payments or anything like that, you just top up when you can. Dial *480# anytime to check your balance and monitor the progress of your account.

The day is almost over, so if you have a K lying around and have ever considered owning units in a mutual fund, all you have to do is dial *480#! For further details, call 0711010000 or check out the Old Mutual website.

Crystal Ading’ is a professional author, editor, rock lover and mother. Her work is available through

7 things you can tell your readers if they don’t like an article on your blog

Most of the times, bloggers create blog post with good intentions. Some of the posts may make people raise eyebrows. Some articles may push readers to express their dislike or hate for the author and their work.

What is a blogger to do in such instances?
Before you go ahead and to defend yourself, you should take some time to ask yourself:

  • Why the dislike? Why doesn’t so and so like my post?
  • What may happen if I don’t address the issue causing the dislike fast?
  • Does the reader who dislikes my post (or me) have a valid ground?
  • Did I let emotions take over me when I was writing this post?
  • How can I make things right?

After answering the questions above you can:
1) Apologize for having offended someone or calling someone names

I am sorry for calling John a jerk
I didn’t mean to offend …… in any way

2) Admit that you were wrong and accept correction

I didn’t get the facts right. I have made corrections already

3) Tell a reader that you stand by your opinion or belief

I was just stating my opinion on …… so take no offence

4) Ask a reader why they dislike your article and ask for their reasons

You stated that you didn’t like my article and never stated why, could you please share your reasons?

5) Explain something the reader night not have understood very well

When I said …………… all I meant wa s……………..and not what you are ……………………..I hope that helps. Let me know if you still have a question.

6) Ask reader to stop using inappropriate language to get your attention

I understand what you are trying to say. I just don’t think that is fine to fill my wall/page with inappropriate language.

7) Refer a reader to other sources that may help them understand the message you were conveying in your article

Check them out this article (add a link to the source). It gives out more info on ………………….

Bloggers should also remember:
Not to respond when they are upset
Some of the comments that usually show up in the dashboard aren’t always pleasant. Some are filled with information that can make a post and the whole blog a better place. Some of them are filled with hate.

A blogger should stick to typing or saying things that will help their blog fulfill its purpose. Harsh remarks may help but so are carefully thought out answers; even if the answer makes the blogger look like a weakling. Bloggers shouldn’t be quick to show how muscled they are.

Not to ignore a reader
Well one can decide to take some time before responding to a comment. That is fine. Bloggers should just remember that every time a reader sends an e-mail or leaves a comment on their blog, they would do anything to see how the blogger reacts after reading their words.

It may not be entirely possible to respond to every comment or e-mail in certain circumstances. A blog post addressing several issues (even if it takes more than a thousand words) can do in such occasions. But it won’t hurt if one takes time to respond to each comment or e-mail individually.

To you now.

What would you tell a reader if they didn’t like one of your posts/views?

This is a guest post by Philos Mudis. He blogs over at where he regularly shares his views on blogging, entrepreneurship and more.

Your Cannot Afford To Miss WordCamp Kenya 2011

What is WordPress? WordPress is a content management system (CMS). In simpler terms, WordPress is software that is used to create websites and manage them. Such software makes both the creation and management of a website simpler and better.

WordPress, in particular, is so good that it is used to power 14.7% of the top one million world’s biggest websites. In the USA, WordPress has been used to create and manage 22% of all new websites in the year 2011. Clearly, WordPress is the one of the biggest and most widely used CMS. (Source of statistics).

Are you using WordPress for your own website? Why not? If the very very biggest websites use it, it means it is world-class, right? Well, you can use the same world-class software for free right now:

Our own DukaPress is an e-commerce engine for WordPress. i.e. we enable you to quickly and easily create an online shop using WordPress and DukaPress.

This year, Kenya will host East Africa’s first WordCamp: WordCamp Kenya 2011. This will be an informal conference about WordPress. It is your golden opportunity to learn why WordPress is used to power nearly one-fifth of all the websites in the world.

It is your opportunity to meet bloggers, developers and businesses who thrive on WordPress.

Come and learn about blogging, online content publishing and how to make money from your WordPress blog/site or from WordPress itself.

Whatever you do, do not miss this.

More info: WordCamp Kenya 2011

The downside of running your own business

I’ve been working freelance since February, and much as I hate to admit it, I’m bored. I always wanted to write for a living, but from the earliest days of blogging, it scared me. I was well aware that when you make a job out of a hobby, things get a little crazy. Once it becomes something you have to do, the fun goes out of it, and that’s not good. Money doesn’t make it easier – it makes it a whole lot harder.

I quit a good job in Tanzania because I wanted to work for myself. I wanted to do my own thing and get paid to write, and now I do. But it’s not what I expected. Of course there are perks. I pick my own hours, I’m here for my daughter, and I can hang out all day in pyjamas. My neighbours think I’m a housewife. A very strange housewife who has purple dreads and likes to walk around the estate in a sweatpants and a hooded sweater. One actually manned up the other day and asked me where I work. I said Westlands.

The part that tires me out is routine. I now have regular customers, but it’s the same thing. Write ten articles on bikes. Finish. Get paid. Write twenty articles on Nokia. Finish. Get paid. Write 15 articles on raspberry jam. Finish. Get paid. On and on and on and on. I’m still at the rookie stage, so I’ll make maybe $100 per assignment, and it’s a pretty good start. But when you make $100 for 100 articles, it can get a bit tedious, and I have to do at least 20 articles a day before it can pay off. That’s really tiring, and most days, I only manage 10.

At this point, it would be good to expand and get other people to do the writing so I can read Harry Potter all day,  but I don’t really want to. I love the writing, it’s just the humdrum that gets to me. When I wake up and find a brief that says ‘Write 10 pages on your imaginary boyfriend’ I’m thrilled, and it’s super fun for the first four pages. Then I push myself and finish all 10 pages, only to hear the client say, ‘Brilliant! I love it! Now invent 10 more imaginary boyfriends.’ I can barely stifle the groan. The gig pays really well, but I’m realising that sometimes, good money isn’t enough.

Maybe it’s just Quarter Life Crisis, [that runs until age 30, right?] but I feel disillusioned. If my dream job isn’t quite a dream, then what else will fall in my laps? Will I get my dream car and find it feels more like a mkoko? Will I buy my dream penthouse and get stuck with the neighbour from hell, or worse, have my mother-in-law buy out the building?

The thing with negative thoughts is that they spiral, and the more you dwell on them, the faster they increase. Jack Canfield says on The Secret that if it isn’t fun, he doesn’t bother to do it, but I can’t convince myself that he enjoys paying taxes, so I guess all rules have an exception. I don’t imagine sportspeople like waking up at 3.00 a.m. to train, or practicing every day for a year just to have it all hinged on a  ten second sprint. When I was whining about boredom to my better half, he asked me if there’s anything I like about freelancing, and I said, ‘Sure,’ and rattled off a list that was ten minutes long. He smiled and said, ‘See? It’s not so bad!’ How I love that boy.

So now I’m armed with a list of perks, and next time I’m restless, I’ll just look through the list. No matter how bad your job or business is, there are good things about it, and by dwelling on those, you can make it through the bad days. You might even turn the bad days good. And the good days are pretty awesome. I once got paid to say how much I like Ben 10. That was mad fun for the first four articles, but by the time I got to sixteen, even I knew I was bluffing. My client solved that my letting me write the articles in groups of five. She is SO cool.

I find basic writing assignments trying, because it’s fun saying how warm one woollen blanket; less fun saying it twelve different ways. I’d like to get to the level where I make $5000 on one assignment. Preferably, it won’t involve pimping on a Persian rug. But in the meantime, I love blogging assignments, so I spend a lot of time on those. I also update my website blog daily. Sometimes I feel bad that I spend more time working pro-bono, but it’s fulfilling, it keeps me sane, and it’s fun. Plus, yesterday I got a client recommended by a pal, and she hired me on the strength of my unpaid blogging. AND she recommended me to a second client who also liked my blog, so yay! I now have two long term clients paying me monthly to fill their blogs. How cool is that?! Definitely a good day.

Another thing you can do is to try emergency motivation. I’m told it’s a course in Boot Camp where they yell at you and call you names every time you start daydreaming. They also make you do press ups. The idea is to drill it into you that a boring task is fun. Later in life, when you feel like you’ll pluck your hair out on the assembly line, you just think of the drill sergeant and the press ups, and you have instant motivation. I’m told it’s very painful, it takes a while to learn, and you might become deaf, but it’s a worthy life skill for your 9 to 5. Me, I don’t like press ups; I prefer milk-free ice cream. So I’m going to stick with blogging, and when I buy that penthouse, I’m going to buy the whole building, just to keep my in-laws out.

Crystal Ading’ is a professional author, editor, rock lover, and mother. Her work is available through

How To Make Money Online In Kenya, 2010 is currently valued at $15 BILLION! That makes the young founder, mark Zuckerberg an extremely wealthy man at such a young age. What about you? How are your finances doing? You could seethe with envy at Mark, or you could try your own hand at making money online!

Last year, we wrote one of the most popular articles on this website: How to make money online in Kenya. The gist of that article was that advertising as a source of online income may not be the best way to go….that was way back in 2009, though. This is 2010! How does one make money online in Kenya?

This time, we’re going to do it a little different: since last year, we’ve come across countless numbers of Kenyan who are already making money online! So this article will talk about how those people are doing it in hopes of inspiring you to start making money online in Kenya!

1.How we make money online in Kenya

We run and a number of other websites. Of course one of the main goals of running all these sites is for us to make money online. How do we do it?

  • Advertisements – Like Chapaa has these adverts on the side (you see them?). They make us peanuts. Honestly.
  • Consulting – as it happens, a lot of the people who read Like Chapaa tend to email us asking for help in setting up online. We make a tidy some from this. How can you do this? It is not a hard concept: just pick out a topic that you are interested in and know a lot about then start a website to talk about that topic and set yourself up as a “consultant”. It works, trust us.
  • E-commerce – this is unbelievable even to us. DESPITE not having an online shop yet, we do sell a few books from our site Jua More. The lesson here seems to be if you have a website talking about a certain product that people want, then you can probably sell this product to those people. Jua More is a book review site which is still very small yet it already makes some money. Can you replicate this with a site of your own and another product? I bet you can! Just pick out something you have passion talking about (and marketing). I’m thinking things like movies and music, clothing and other such stuff can do pretty well! We even built DukaPress for you so this is super easy to do with no technical skills whatsoever!
  • Web Design – Wambere, one of the founders of Like Chapaa, also runs Nickel Pro which is a web design and development company. Like Chapaa drives a whole lot of customers her way. How can you do this? This is all about marketing, if you offer a service and want to make money online from it, you need to find somewhere (online) where the people who would buy your service hang out and then talk to these people and subtly showcase your skills and experience. They’ll buy.
  • Referrals (Affiliate income) – incidentally, most of the things we recommend you use – akina, AlertPay, etc – have affiliate programs. This means that if you sign up to those sites after reading about it on Like Chapaa, we get paid. How to do this: this is pretty easy, in my view. You shouldn’t start the process by looking for companies that offer affiliate programs. Instead, look for what interests you. If you love shoes and want to start a website about shoes, you will come to find there are tons of sites out there that will pay you good money to drive people to them. Affiliate programs exist for almost everything under the sun – just find something you love, start a blog/site around it, and voila!

Also see: How to make Money With A Blog.

2. How Other People make Money Online

We realise that we aren’t the only Kenyans making money online (hehe) and so this section is dedicated to everyone else that we have come across this past year.

A. Advertising
Like Chapaa sucks at making money from advertising but these sites do it amazingly well:

  1. Career Point Kenya – this is one of the most visited sites in Kenya and, rightly so, they make a lot of money from Google’s Adsense program. This means that whenever any of the hundreds of thousands of people who visit Career Point Kenya every day click on the Google Ads, the guys running that site get paid. Sweet! To replicate this you just need to build a website that gets huge, HUGE, numbers of visitors and you’ll get paid like you won’t believe. This is not as easy as it sounds, though, and I would caution against betting on advertising as your sole means of earning online.
  2. Bankelele – the ever popular Kenyan blog. I think this is one of the oldest blogs in Kenya. It has only survived this long because the guy who runs it is a master at what he does. Unlike Career Point Kenya, Bankele makes advertising money by selling his own ads at his own price (you get this luxury when you have a site as good as his). Here’s how to do this on your own site!

B. Selling Stuff
Jua More, mentioned above, is just a lucky occurrence. If you want to really make money by selling something tangible (or digital), then you need to look at, and learn from, the guys below:

  • Mama Mikes – Mama Mikes is one of the first e-commerce sites to serve Kenyans. It is a site that excels at selling Kenyan stuff to Kenyans who do not live in Kenya. For example, you can pay power bills for your family in Kenya while living in Spain – or buy them gifts and groceries. Brilliant idea, eh? I think so too. Mama Mikes found a niche market very early on in the game and took it over.
  • Fab Guru – a fascinating business run by a lady off her Nairobi apartment. This is the face of “make money from home”. Fab Guru sells ladies shoes, bags and other items. She particularly excels at marketing her wares on Facebook where she has a large following of “fans”. Fab Guru makes quite a lot and the ingredients seem to be: a)find something to sell (preferably something that you love) and b)find a group of people who love what you have to offer (in this case, Fab Guru didn’t find those people, she built a place for them to come to).
  • Career Point Kenya – these guys have written a book that resonates well with the people who visit their site. I’m not sure of the sales figures, but I’d bet they do very well.

Do you see a trend here? If you want to make money online by selling things, then you need to first find a good product (or products) – something you love working with and which is likely to have a market large enough to support you. Then you need to find, or build, a place where people who would be willing to buy your product(s) can be found. If you manage to do that, you’ll be home free!

C. Freelancing
Of all the ways people make money online, this is the one way used by most of the people we have come across. Quite simply, this is nothing but being a hired hand. That is, being paid to do something for someone because of your expertise, experience or both. Here are examples of Kenyans who are already doing this: Wuogard, Linda Cherotich, Maria Maina and our very own Crystal.

How do you do this? Well, first off you need to be able to do something better than most people can do it. It can be anything, from writing to art, to web design.

Next, you need to build out your portfolio and then try your hand at finding jobs/gigs at some of the more popular freelancer sites such as

To put it in a way that it is more easy to relate to, I’ll give the example of Kenyan Freelancer. She’s a brilliant writer. She set up to do business online the smart way: she set up Smurt Notes which is her ‘business profile’ used to ‘seal the deal’ – but that’s not all – she also has a somewhat less formal site, Kenyan Freelancer, which I would say does more of the ‘marketing’. A nice little one-two punch to get her clients.

Seems very do-able, eh? Good luck!

See also: Interviews with Maria Maina, Kenyan Freelancer, and Crystal.

In my personal experience, and as seen and proven above, you can make money online in Kenya by:

  1. Selling adverts on your site
  2. Consulting
  3. Selling other people’s stuff (affiliate marketing)
  4. E-commerce (selling your own things)
  5. Freelancing

I am sure there are more ways through which people are actually making money in Kenya, but the above are what I have actually seen proven. What about you? Are you making money online? No? Need help?

Good luck, and God bless you!

Photo by timbrauhn.

Why Does Your Business Not Blog?

A recent study by HubSpot found out that businesses that actively maintain their blogs draw as much as 7 times more visitors to their websites than businesses which do not have blogs. What does this mean?

Does your business depend on getting many visitors to your website? Or, would it benefit your business if your website had more visitors? Yes? Then you need to have an active and well maintained blog for your business.

What makes a good business blog? It may surprise you, but the big accounting and consulting firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers once did some research on what makes a good corporate blog. Here are their published results. From reading their white paper, some of the main points, in my mind, are:

  • Demonstrate expertise – Position an employee and/or the business as the industry thought leader.
  • Build customer relationships – Develop personal, long-term relationships with customers; collect feedback, insights, suggestions, complaints and endorsements; and increase intimacy by giving the business a human voice.
  • Enhance company credibility – Utilize a high-profile, press-monitored venue to directly address and respond to issues related to the company. During times of crisis, explicitly address needs and concerns of stakeholders. In other words, use the blog to paint the best picture possible for your business.
  • Expand company visibility – Link the blog to related Web sites via RSS to generate interest from new parties, including the media and competitors’ customers. Basically, use the blog to increase the number of people who know about you, and can find you.
  • Increase collaboration – Create a workspace in which project teams can interact.
  • Promote knowledge management – Provide employees with information and resources in an easy-to-navigate format.
  • Strengthen recruitment – Generate interest in the business from potential recruits by demonstrating candor and credibility in the blog.
  • Test progressive ideas – Gauge public interest to out-of-the-box thinking by posting ideas and monitoring responses.
  • Heighten search engine rankings – Raise rank and profile of business by building a high number of links to the blog.

Apart from those pointers, the white paper goes further and lists some additional tips:

  • Remember that blog readers are not passive consumers; they are actively seeking a ‘scoop’ or insight from your blog.
  • Do not just blog for blogging’s sake. Make sure that what you write about is interesting and engaging.
  • Authenticity is critical to creating a successful blog; readers know when content is primarily focused on marketing the firm/company.
  • Updating the blog on a regular basis is key to engaging readers and driving return traffic.
  • Be sure to incorporate RSS feeds. RSS feeds allow readers to receive blog updates in real-time.

So, why exactly does your business not blog?