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Kenyans Making Cash Housing Horses

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Horse rider Angela Cheror (centre) with Elvis (right) and his sister Susan Mbugua at the Karen School of Riding on September 10, 2018 DIANA NGILA | NAIROBI 

Kenneth Orupia rushes back to the stable with supplies urgently needed to conduct a surgery on one of his horses at Karen Riding School in Nairobi.

Seven-year-old ‘Boxer’ is being neutered, a procedure that takes about 20 minutes. The horse’s eyes are droopy and he looks like he needs to rest after sedation but he stays awake, perhaps aware that the veterinarian and his master are talking about him.

‘Boxer’ is one of the horses housed at the Karen stables. The rest are out grazing.

“I have 18 horses here and about 100 people walk through those doors every week to ride them,” he says.

He knows the horses by name, points out their characters and the problems they might have, just like a parent would of his children.

“Goldie’ is seven months pregnant,” he says. Another horse needs tooth extraction. ‘Sara’, a horse that had been kept out in the riding trails for long needs to breastfeed her foal ‘Magical Star.’

“She is very hungry and her feeding schedule has to be adhered to,” one of the employees says.

As horse ownership in Kenya grows, not everyone can afford a stable. Kenyans are now buying horses and housing them far from their homes. The stable workers train the horses and their owners, take care of them and have a veterinarian on 24 hours call to treat them if they fall sick.

Owning a horse requires commitment in time, money and passion. Mr Orupia has opened his Nairobi stable to other horse owners besides keeping his own.

“Owners pay Sh35,000 a month for their horses to stay here at the stable but they can pay for a half of the lease period which is Sh25,000,” he says.

He adds that horse mold, hay, water molasses, barley, carrots, apples, oats are just part of the few dietary requirements healthy horses require every day, making horse-keeping not a cheap hobby.

Tony Muthama of Hardy Stud says horses owners can pay Sh30,000 to house their animals in the stable.

The stable workers exercise and groom the horses. There is a half lease option which is cheaper where a stable owner is allowed to use the horse to teach walk-in riders and in races.

“The half lease option can only be discussed after we see what the horse is able to do. An owner may say we can use a horse for races but we find it is not capable of doing much,” he says.

Most of the horses at the stable are also insured. Horses can fetch luxury-car prices hence have to be insured. A horse can cost as little as Sh150,000, says Mr Orupia, but those are old and retired. A good one costs anything from Sh500,000.

Horse rider Angela Cheror (centre) with Elvis

Horse rider Angela Cheror (centre) with Elvis (right) and his sister Susan Mbugua at the Karen School of Riding on September 10, 2018 DIANA NGILA | NAIROBI

“I know a guy who bought a Sh14 million horse and he had to put it down after it was kicked by another horse which broke its hip. That is money down the drain when you do not take insurance,” says Mr Orupia whose love for horses started when he was 12 years old.

In addition, a horse owner has to pay fees for hoof maintenance.

“Poor hoof care can lead to infection, joint hyper-extension, and even permanent lameness. In addition to daily care, horses should be seen by a certified farrier every six to eight weeks to be trimmed or shoed,” he says.

Equipment is also a key in horse keeping.

“Harnesses, for instance, vary in sizes depending on the horse. We get polo harnesses from Argentina while the rest comes from the UK,” he says.

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Genius Mbugua, a father-of-three keeps his horses at Karen Riding School.

“Having a stable or shelter, maintenance of equipment, fencing and grooming are things I had to consider. You also need to proper beddings for the horse,” he says.

Mr Mbugua who has a two-year-old son named Jayden, 10-year-old Elvis and eight-year-old Susan, bought each of them a horse even if he does not own a stable.

“I have always loved horses and I wanted my children to own them but because we live in a court, I found this arrangement good for us. They come here on weekends to ride their horses without me having to break a sweat,” says Mr Mbugua.

He says he bought two horses from Mr Orupia and he got a white foal that his son Jayden rides elsewhere.

When the white foal was brought to the Karen Riding School, Mr Orupia says, it was trained to fit a child’s needs.

“We have to train the rider but also get the horse well-tempered. We teach the horse and the rider to communicate through body movements. For example, the horse should know that when the rider leans back then it should slow down,” he says.

Susan who has had her horse for about a year now rides by herself unlike many children. She is not afraid of them unlike Jayden who loves them but still exercises caution.

“I like the way it requires concentration and how you can be one with the horse while riding it,” says Susan.

Her horse ‘Goldie’ is pregnant and despite the visible growing belly, Susan is able to lead her to move just as majestic as the other horses.

The children started by doing hour-long lessons. Mr Orupia explains that horses cannot be taught something new for more than an hour.

Horse rider Angela Cheror holds the reigns of

Horse rider Angela Cheror holds the reigns of Nunki the horse, with 3year-old Jayden Mbugua at the Karen School of Riding on September 10, 2018. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG

Angela Cheror arrives at the riding school for an appointment with Mr Orupia. She wants to become a horse-racing jockey.

“I come here on Sundays and Mondays and I love that it is quiet and a little less busy than usual,” she says.

While she has been riding for a while, being a jockey requires much more than showing up to ride leisurely. It is a tough road and involves years of training to gain reputation and experience.

One of the trainers, Michael Micino, says there are four levels that a jockey has to go through before becoming a professional. That depends on the way someone rides and how many times one wins competitions.

‘‘To be a professional, one should have 30 wins,” he says.

A jockey also has to be 50 to 55 kilogrammes and Ms Cheror says she had to lose weight to meet the standards.

“There are not many black female riders and I want to make the cut. I work at ensuring that I meet the set requirements needed to be the best. It is intense but there is no two ways about it,” she says.

Ms Cheror will start with a 5Kg claimer and over time she says that she will make her mark as a professional jockey.

“She will have to be a disciplined, be a good rider and that will require her to learn how to gallop for example. She will be given a license which expires every season which is about one year,” says Mr Micino.

Mr Orupia says that although horse racing has been perceived as a white man’s game, given its history, more Kenyans are getting into the sport.

The Nairobi horse-boarding place also offers equestrian skills such as polo discipline, showing, racing and dressage.

Other Kenyans who have their own stables also come to train with their horses in the sand-filled ground.

“Horses need that cushion-like environment to train and while someone might have a stable to just keep them, they may lack the field like this for them to just ran freely and not get injured,” says Mr Orupia.



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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.

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“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.

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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Monitor water pumps remotely via your phone


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.

“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.

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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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