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A Day Care For Bored Dogs

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A Day Care For Bored Dogs

Karanja Ngugi who owns Pet Village. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NMG 

Where do you take your bored dog? As pet ownership grows, the care and feeding has been elevated, catering for owners who want their dogs to go for play dates where they enjoy a game of fetch or to spas where no cost is spared to clean their ears, brush their teeth and clip their nails. Four years ago, Karanja Ngugi, 26, opened Pet Village, a dog day care centre on Ngecha Road in Nairobi’s Lower Kabete. At this day care, there are dogs that have come for play dates, others for grooming and some may be sleeping over at a fee.

As we approach the gate with my two colleagues, we can see over a dozen cute little dogs playing in an enclosed space. Well, until they all outrun Mr Ngugi and come jumping on us at which point I freeze, close my eyes and beg the dog carers to take them away.

We have a good laugh after Mr Ngugi and his team assure me that they are pets and harmless.

“They want you to say ‘Hi’ to them,” he says to reassure me.

“Dogs are not just loyal but very emotional. The first thing you should do when you meet a (pet) dog is say ‘Hello’ by offering him your hand,” explains the trained pet groomer.

This gesture, he adds, makes the dog comfortable as it sniffs or licks your hand.

“But you should not proceed to pat him on his back as he might perceive this as aggression. Rather, pat his chest or chin and when he is comfortable, you can proceed to pat him on his back,” says the groomer.

Mr Ngugi, who has a Master’s degree in Business Administration, has always loved canines. His love affair with dogs began when he was a small boy.

“My parents got me my first dog, Kamau, a Pomeranian (a small dog with long silky hair, pointed muzzle and pricked ears, a native or inhabitant of Pomerania) when I was around 10 after a lot of persuasion,” he says.

They were living in Zimbabwe at the time and that was when he fell in love with Pomeranians, the only breed available where they stayed. Later, he volunteered in different rescue centres locally and his last employment was at a pet grooming centre in Nairobi’s Kitisuru, where he worked as a groomer before opening his own place in 2017.

Mr Ngugi co-founded Pet Village with Eli Young and currently, he has two groomers and two kennel assistants.

Pet Village, which offers boarding and day care facilities has found a growing niche market as Kenyans own dogs for companionship. On average, they house about 20 dogs a day. “Some clients do not want their dogs getting bored at home so they opt to bring them here where they can play and have fun with other dogs,” he says.

The centre also caters for owners who have dogs but no backyards where they can play freely.

“Dogs are very energetic and are always yearning to release pent up energy. If you leave him at home, you might find he has ripped off your cushions,” Mr Ngugi says.

Sometimes they get owners who bring their dogs for grooming though most prefer their pets groomed in their houses.

So what does grooming entail?

“Grooming depends on the individual needs of the dog but can include wash and hair cut, trims, nail clipping, teeth cleaning, ear waxing or removal of tear stains, especially on white dogs,” explains Mr Ngugi.

Besides offering these services, Pet Village also breeds pure Pomeranians with a puppy going for Sh100,000.

“Currently, all the puppies we have are booked. Most clients prefer to book them while they are still young,” he says. When pet owners travel, they also entrust their dogs to day care centres. For those who want to know what and how their ‘fur babies’ are doing, they are given a daily account of their dog’s day via e-mail and video clips.

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Mr Ngugi explains that they have a WhatsApp group where he engages the clients on how their dogs are fairing, especially the ones on short stay.

The short-stay option provides a temporary home for dogs whose owners have travelled.

Dogs at day care centre

Dogs at day care centre. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NMG

“In some instances, a client who is renovating their house prefers his dog to be away in case of any accidents or perhaps they are away for the weekend and wants him to socialise with other dogs while he’s away,” he says.

But are there any requirements a client should meet before their dogs are admitted into the facility?

“It is important for the dogs to be vaccinated, dewormed, undergo flea and tick treatment and have a license,” explains Mr Ngugi.

In addition, Pet Village offers training services to their clients’ dogs. The canines are trained on basic obedience and how to listen to and understand simple commands, like ‘fetch’, ‘sit’ or ‘come’.

Mr Ngugi explains that when the dogs are trained, it helps the business to be organised and orderly. I notice he refers to each dog by name; Sketch, Skye, German and Nairobi.

They also have a ‘Karura Day’, when the dogs are taken to a natural habitat where they can play and just enjoy being dogs.

“The dogs enjoy playing in the open space, rivers and taking walks,” he says.

As we carry on with the interview, I notice one mischievous dog mounting another and I ask Mr Ngugi if there is a chance that the dogs in his care could breed.

“Most pet dogs are sterile and pet owners are advised to have them sterilised. This also helps to contain their sexual energy otherwise you might get sued by your neighbour if your dog jumps over the fence to go and mate with their dog,” he explains on a lighter note.

However, like in any other venture, Mr Ngugi experiences challenges. He says his greatest challenge is creating awareness on how dogs should be treated as most people think that their duty is to offer security.

“Owners need to understand that a dog needs love and to be taken good care of. Dogs too need TLC — (tender loving care),” he notes.

Every dog reacts differently. They have different personality traits, behaviours and while some are really smart, some are slow and they have to be let to live at that pace, he says.

As more dogs find a home and comfort at Pet Village, Mr Ngugi says the space is not adequate. He plans to build a bigger pet resort with space for more kennels by April. The facility also has a regular vet who comes of take care of the dogs.

Years ago, the notion of day care centres for dogs or even dog grooming to enhance the physical appearances of pets for shows, competitions, advertisements or just having them home squeaky clean, was foreign. But now there are about five dog spas in Kenya, Very Impawtant Pets in Nairobi’s Kitisuru being one of them. Kenyans are slowly embracing them.

“Twenty per cent of our clients are Kenyans. They mostly bring their dogs for day care services or grooming,” says Mr Ngugi, adding that more people are warming up to the idea as they realise they might not be able to provide fun activities for them, especially if they are working all day or live in apartments.

To help socialise and exercise their pets, some people drop them off at the centre while others pay extra for pick up. The day care charges depend on whether transportation is included. Some clients prefer to drop their pets off and pick them up in the evening while some want them picked and dropped. The rates range from Sh600 to Sh1,000 per day per dog.

“Most of the pets want to go home by 4pm and they become restless, whine and follow you around. We have to keep reassuring them that ‘mummy’ and ‘daddy’ are coming by hugging, kissing and petting them. It is fun when you get to do what you love and at times I enjoy their company so much I find it hard to go home,” Mr Ngugi says.



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BCCI: The bank ‘that would bribe God’

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Bank of Credit and Commerce International. August 1991. [File, Standard]

“This bank would bribe God.” These words of a former employee of the disgraced Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) sum up one of the most rotten global financial institutions.

BCCI pitched itself as a top bank for the Third World, but its spectacular collapse would reveal a web of transnational corruption and a playground for dictators, drug lords and terrorists.

It was one of the largest banks cutting across 69 countries and its aftermath would cause despair to innocent depositors, including Kenyans.

BCCI, which had $20 billion (Sh2.1 trillion in today’s exchange rate) assets globally, was revealed to have lost more than its entire capital.

The bank was founded in 1972 by the crafty Pakistani banker Agha Hasan Abedi.

He was loved in his homeland for his charitable acts but would go on to break every rule known to God and man.

In 1991, the Bank of England (BoE) froze its assets, citing large-scale fraud running for several years. This would see the bank cease operations in multiple countries. The Luxembourg-based BCCI was 77 per cent owned by the Gulf Emirate of Abu Dhabi.  

BoE investigations had unearthed laundering of drugs money, terrorism financing and the bank boasted of having high-profile customers such as Panama’s former strongman Manual Noriega as customers.

The Standard, quoting “highly placed” sources reported that Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Zayed Sultan would act as guarantor to protect the savings of Kenyan depositors.

The bank had five branches countrywide and panic had gripped depositors on the state of their money.

Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) would then move to appoint a manager to oversee the operations of the BCCI operations in Kenya.

It sent statements assuring depositors that their money was safe.

The Standard reported that the Sheikh would be approaching the Kenyan and other regional subsidiaries of the bank to urge them to maintain operations and assure them of his personal support.

It was said that contact between CBK and Abu Dhabi was “likely.”

This came as the British Ambassador to the UAE Graham Burton implored the gulf state to help compensate Britons, and the Indian government also took similar steps.

The collapse of BCCI was, however, not expect to badly hit the Kenyan banking system. This was during the sleazy 1990s when Kenya’s banking system was badly tested. It was the era of high graft and “political banks,” where the institutions fraudulently lent to firms belonging or connected to politicians, who were sometimes also shareholders.

And even though the impact was expected to be minimal, it was projected that a significant number of depositors would transfer funds from Asian and Arab banks to other local institutions.

“Confidence in Arab banking has taken a serious knock,” the “highly placed” source told The Standard.

BCCI didn’t go down without a fight. It accused the British government of a conspiracy to bring down the Pakistani-run bank.  The Sheikh was said to be furious and would later engage in a protracted legal battle with the British.

“It looks to us like a Western plot to eliminate a successful Muslim-run Third World Bank. We know that it often acted unethically. But that is no excuse for putting it out of business, especially as the Sultan of Abu Dhabi had agreed to a restructuring plan,” said a spokesperson for British Asians.

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A CBK statement signed by then-Deputy Governor Wanjohi Murithi said it was keenly monitoring affairs of the mother bank and would go to lengths to protect Kenyan depositors.

“In this respect, the CBK has sought and obtained the assurance of the branch’s management that the interests of depositors are not put at risk by the difficulties facing the parent company and that the bank will meet any withdrawal instructions by depositors in the normal course of business,” said Mr Murithi.

CBK added that it had maintained surveillance of the local branch and was satisfied with its solvency and liquidity.

This was meant to stop Kenyans from making panic withdrawals.

For instance, armed policemen would be deployed at the bank’s Nairobi branch on Koinange Street after the bank had announced it would shut its Kenyan operations.

In Britain, thousands of businesses owned by British Asians were on the verge of financial ruin following the closure of BCCI.

Their firms held almost half of the 120,000 bank accounts registered with BCCI in Britain. 

The African Development Bank was also not spared from this mess, with the bulk of its funds deposited and BCCI and stood to lose every coin.

Criminal culture

In Britain, local authorities from Scotland to the Channel Islands are said to have lost over £100 million (Sh15.2 billion in today’s exchange rate).

The biggest puzzle remained how BCCI was allowed by BoE and other monetary regulation authorities globally to reach such levels of fraudulence.

This was despite the bank being under tight watch owing to the conviction of some of its executives on narcotics laundering charges in the US.

Coast politician, the late Shariff Nassir, would claim that five primary schools in Mombasa lost nearly Sh1 million and appealed to then Education Minister George Saitoti to help recover the savings. Then BoE Governor Robin Leigh-Pemberton condemned it as so deeply immersed in fraud that rescue or recovery – at least in Britain – was out of the question.

“The culture of the bank is criminal,” he said. The bank was revealed to have targeted the Third World and had created several “institutional devices” to promote its operations in developing countries.

These included the Third World Foundation for Social and Economic Studies, a British-registered charity.

“It allowed it to cultivate high-level contacts among international statesmen,” reported The Observer, a British newspaper.

BCCI also arranged an annual Third World lecture and a Third World prize endowment fund of about $10 million (Sh1 billion in today’s exchange rate).

Winners of the annual prize had included Nelson Mandela (1985), sir Bob Geldof (1986) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1989).

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Tracking and monitoring motor vehicles is not new to Kenyans. Competition to install affordable tracking devices is fierce but essential for fleet managers who receive reports online and track vehicles from the comfort of their desk.

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East Africa celebrates top women in banking and finance

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The Angaza Awards for Women to watch in Banking and Finance in East Africa took place Online via Zoom on 8th June 2021.

The event was set to celebrate the top 10 women shaping banking and finance across East Africa. The 2021 Angaza Awards, which will be a Pan-African Awards program, was also announced at the event.

Key speakers at this webinar were Dr Nancy Onyango, Director of Internal Audit and Inspection at the IMF; and Gail Evans, New York Times Best Selling Author of Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman and former White House Aide and CNN Executive Vice President.

Dr Nancy Onyango advised women to deep expertise in their fields, spend time in forums and link with key players in that sector.
“Gain exposure with other cultures by seeking for employment overseas and use customized CV for each job application,” said Dr Onyango.

According to Gail Evans, women should show up and be fully present in meetings and not be preoccupied with other issues.
“Be simple and avoid jargon. Multi-tasking only means that you are mediocre Smart people ask good questions in a business meeting. Most women face drawbacks due to perfectionism, procrastination and fear of failure, said Evans.

She advised women to play like a man and win like a woman, be strategic, and intentionally make their moves to get to the top.

“For us to pull up businesses that have been affected by effects of COVID-19 pandemic, we need to re-invent business models, change the product offering and make more use of digital platforms,” said Mary Wamae Equity Group Executive Director.

Mary Wamae emerged top at the inaugural Angaza awards( East Africa) ahead of other finalists.

While women continue to excel in banking and finance, the number of that occupies top executive positions is still less.

“There is a gap for women occupying C suite level and it continues to widen in the finance sector. At entry level, there is still an experience gap for women,” said Nkirote Mworia, Group Secretary for UAP-Old Mutual Group.

She said that at the Middle Management level, women do not express their ambition. For this reason, UAP-Old Mutual has developed an executive sponsorship program to help women get to the next level.

Mworia added that most women hold the notion that top positions in management have politics and pressure.
“One needs leadership skills and not technical expertise to get to the top,” said Mworia.

According to Catherine Karimi, Chief Executive Officer and Principal Officer of APA Life Assurance Company, women need to focus on the strengths and natural abilities that they already have.

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“Take risks and raise your hand to get to the high table. Find mentors along the way and develop your own brand and not compare yourself with others Focus on your strengths because it will make you move faster in the career ladder,” said Karimi.

Lina Mukashyaka Higiro, a Rwandan businesswoman and chief executive officer of the NCBA Bank Rwanda since July 2018, has three lessons for women who want to excel in banking and finance.
“Always spend at least 20 minutes each day reading, seeking genuine feedback from other staff members and widen your network,” Higiro told the webinar.

Women picked for Angaza awards

Mary Wamae, Executive Director, led this year’s Top 10 Women in Angaza Awards, Equity Group (Kenya)(2)Catherine Karimi, Chief Executive Officer, APA Life Insurance Company (Kenya)(3)Lina Higiro, Chief Executive Officer, NCBA Bank (Rwanda)(4)Elizabeth Wasunna Ochwa, Business Banking Director, Absa Bank (Kenya)(5)Joanita Jaggwe, Country Head of Risk and Compliance, KCB Group (South Sudan)(6) Millicent Omukaga, Technical Assistance Expert on Inclusive Finance, African Development Bank (Kenya)(7)Emmanuella Nzahabonimana, Head of Information Technology, KCB Group (Rwanda)(8)Judith Sidi Odhiambo, Group Head of Corporate Affairs, KCB Group (Kenya)(9)Rosemary Ngure, ESG & Impact Manager, Catalyst Principal Partners (Kenya) and(10)Pooja Bhatt, Co-Founder, QuantaRisk and QuantaInsure (Kenya).

The Kenyan Wallstreet, a financial media firm, partnered with Kaleidoscope Consultants to raise awareness of seasoned women shaping and influencing the sector through their organizations.

The Angaza Award criteria included assessing the applicants’ area of responsibility and contribution to firm performance. Professionals in Banking, Capital Markets, Insurance, Investment Banking, Fintech, Fund Management, Microfinance, and SACCOs were invited to submit their applications or nominations via the Kenyan Wallstreet Award Web page.

ALSO READ: Angaza Awards Top Finalist; Mary Wangari Wamae

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IFC in New Partnership to Develop Affordable Housing in Mombasa County

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NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 14 – International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group, has signed a new deal in support of affordable housing in Kenya.

The corporation has partnered with Belco Realty LLP, to develop a mixed use affordable living complex that will consist of 1,379 residential units and over 4,500 square meters of retail and commercial spaces in Kongowea, Mombasa County.

Together with the Kenyan firm, IFC says the partnership will help meet surging demand for housing in Kenya.

Under the agreement, IFC will help identify suitable international strategic partners to invest equity of up to $12 million, or Sh1.3 billion in Belco and to provide the company with the necessary technical support to develop the project.

The development, known as Kongowea Village, will be developed to foster inclusive and affordable community living within the city.

Jumoke Jagun-Dokunmu, IFC’s Regional Director for Eastern Africa says the project, which will be located on eight acres within the heart of Mombasa city, will aim to be a catalyst for wider city regeneration.

The project will be developed to meet IFC EDGE certification requirements and will incorporate the latest technologies in passive cooling, energy efficiency and water conservation to support sustainable urbanization.

 Kongowea Village is expected to create 1,160 jobs and business opportunities during the three-year construction period and many more after completion of the project within the themed retail arcade.

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 “Access to quality housing is a growing problem in Kenya and across Africa,” said Jumoke Jagun-Dokunmu, IFC’s Regional Director for Eastern Africa.

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“Developers often target the high end of the market, but this project is aimed squarely at the lower-income bracket. Helping Belco identify the right partners for this project is expected to attract more developers to Kenya and other parts of Africa to help meet rising demand for housing.”

 IFC‘s engagement with Belco will help Kenya support its rapidly growing and urbanizing population by increasing access to affordable housing. The problem is similar across most of Africa, where population growth and demand for quality housing are combining to outstrip supply.  We are pleased to partner with a company such as Belco that is committed to contributing to solving this challenge,” said Emmanuel Nyirinkindi, IFC‘s Director for Transaction Advisory Services.

 IFC’s partnership with Belco is part of its broader strategy to support better access to affordable housing in Kenya.

In 2020, IFC invested $2 million in equity in the Kenya Mortgage Refinance Company (KMRC) to help increase access to affordable mortgages and support home ownership in the country.

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