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Money Talk: How to save money on your grocery shopping



I usually do our grocery shopping in my neighbourhood’s supermarket. I shop once every two months.

We’re a family of four living in Nairobi, by the way: GB and I, our three-year-old daughter, Muna, and our Nanny Viv.

I do the shopping once every two months because I seek efficiency – I figure that since I’m already in the supermarket, I may as well cut down the time and hassle of returning next month to do the same thing I’d have done. Slaying two dragons with two sharpened swords.

It also gives me peace of mind knowing the household is adequately stocked for the next two months.

Nanny Viv has mastered portion control with laundry, cooking and cleaning supplies. She doesn’t waste just because they’re in large quantities. This really adds to our efficiency.

Aside from this bimonthly grocery shopping, there are other items I must buy from the local minimart at least every other day.

Items such a milk, yoghurt and eggs. I don’t buy bread because we no longer eat bread in my house, we have ngwace instead.

I do our vegetable shopping Marikiti market every Saturday morning.

I budget to spend, for each bimonthly visit to the supermarket, between Sh17,000 and Sh20,000. That translates to between Sh8,000 and Sh10,000 a month. I’ve not included in here extra costs such as parking fees, car fuel, tip for the shop attendant and probably an Uber, on the days GB has the car and he can’t get it to me on time.

The last time I did the shopping – in late January – I was taken aback by how much I spent. There has been such a sharp increase in the cost of living, so much so that I exceeded my budget. I even remember, when we got to the counter, there were some items I removed from the trolley.

I figured there must be a place where I can get these items at a more reasonable price. I mean, such inflated expenditure is what took me to Marikiti in the first place – we needed the fruits and vegetables, I wanted to get them at a more pocket-friendly price.

Anyway, that was back in January.

On this Friday in early April, the household is due for another shopping.

I recall my pal, Vicky, had once mentioned in passing that she does her shopping at a wholesale outlet on Mombasa Road.

I call her. She says, “That one on Mombasa Road closed, I found another one in Nairobi West. Let me send you their number. You can WhatsApp them your list and they pack your items. You’ll do an M-Pesa. So when you get there, you just collect your shopping and go.”

I call them. I’m curious to experience their offerings so I take an Uber to Nairobi West.

It’s nothing fancy. It’s like a kiosk; you don’t go around pushing a trolley in the aisles and putting in items from the shelves. No. It’s literally like buying stuff from your local kiosk.

Boxes and boxes of supplies spill over from every conceivable corner of the tight space.

There are two customer attendants sitting a grilled-like counter. Separating the two of you is also a large computer screen.

You read to the attendant, item by item, what you want – from your list or your head, depends on how you operate. She patiently keys it into the computer.

There are some items they have, others they don’t have. Some items have a minimum order quantity, others don’t have. Ugali flour, for example, you have to buy a minimum of six.

When she’s keyed in all the items you’ve told her to, she tells you the total price.

If it’s above your budget, you tell her to reduce the quantities of some items or to remove others all together.

If it’s below your budget, then good for you.

The first round of keying in the items from my list totals to Sh19,000. I tell her my budget was Sh13,000.

We patiently work downwards together until we get to Sh13,867.

Once you’re happy with the price and quantities, you give her your go ahead and she’ll print the receipt, you go to the other end of the counter to pay.

This wholesale only takes cash or M-pesa, I couldn’t make payment using my Visa card as I usually used to. I had to run to the ATM not too far from behind and withdraw cash. (The account I run with my bank charges me for transactions only, so I was charged Sh45 to make this ATM withdrawal.  I hadn’t planned to withdraw. This slight inconvenience irked me.)

Once you’ve paid, you step outside and give your receipt to one of the store keepers. She reads out the items as a coated chap from the store temporarily puts your things into a large carton box near the door. She ticks the items off the receipt as he puts them in the box.

I like that, this storekeeping control ensures no item is forgotten or put in by mistake.

After the entire receipt is ticked, you check if all the items are as you want. For example, I want a particular brand of fabric softener, the pink one for babies, so he exchanges it for me. Bathing soap, I have six in there and they are all white, I ask him to replace three with green and pink soap.

If you still want to remove some items, you can. You simply go back to the attendant, she removes it from your receipt and a credit note is printed for you. The cashier will give you back the cash.

Once you’re happy with everything, the storekeeper and the packer recheck the items – yet again – from the ticked receipt and he packs them in carton boxes for you from the store. I didn’t have to buy bags or come with my own shopping bags.

He puts them aside as they attend to the next customer. You’re ready to go.

I call my Uber and go back home.

What I felt about the wholesale experience

I didn’t have to push my heavy trolley around a hectare of a supermarket. That saved me the usual sweat and fatigue of doing shopping.

There were some items they didn’t have. Either they were out of stock, or that particular brand I liked wasn’t available. I omitted these items completely from my list.

They don’t have a customer loyalty reward card where you can accumulate points for redeeming later.

As I mentioned, they don’t stock perishables. I needed milk, yoghurt and eggs. I still had to go to our local minimart to get some. These items came to Sh1,340.

This wholesale outlet is a tidy distance from where I live, and because I didn’t have the car that day, I took an Uber. I spent Sh1,000.

Taking all that into consideration (shopping itself, Uber and ATM withdrawal), I spent in total Sh16,252.

Ultimately, I went to the wholesalers to save money on my bimonthly grocery shopping.

Later, after my shopping, I go to a popular supermarket and collect prices. I compare them with what I’d spent.  

Taking all the above into consideration, I’m wondering if this wholesale shopping is worth my time, effort and savings.


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Aisha Jumwa to remain in police custody until Thursday for plea taking




Malindi Member of Parliament Aisha Jumwa will spend three nights in police custody after a Mombasa court ruled on the issue.

The court ruled that the MP should remain in custody until the day that she will take plea.

“The two accused persons shall be remanded at port police station pending psychiatric examination. Pre-bail assessment shall be undertaken on each of the accused,” Judge Njoki Mwangi ruled.

“Accused to be escorted to Coast General on 21st Oct for psychiatric examination,”she added.

Jumwa has been in the limelight since October 2019.

Police officers linked her and her bodyguard to chaos and a shooting that erupted during campaigns.

The lawmaker allegedly had something to do with the shooting during campaigns for the by election in Ganda Ward, Kilifi County.

Aisha Jumwa and her bodyguard Geoffrey Okuto Otieno will take plea on murder charges.

While giving the ruling, Judge Njoki Mwangi noted that although the outspoken MP and her bodyguard were released o bail pending trial over charges of misappropriation of funds, the amount did not apply to the murder charges.

According to the Judge, The court had released them on different terms. Therefore, the terms did not to the murder charges brought before the court.

Reports indicate that the Malindi MP stormed into a venue where political leaders had a meeting.

On doing so, a scuffle ensued and an ODM agent got shot. Unfortunately, the agent passed on.

A section of ODM leaders had organized the meeting to come up with a strategy to conduct a mini poll.

Asked whether she had anything to do with the shooting, Aisha Jumwa claimed that the ODM party had something to do with the death of one of their agents.

The ruling comes days after the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) approved the murder charges against her and her bodyguard.

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Court documents shows shocking amount Kidero used during 2017 Nairobi gubernatorial elections




Former Nairobi governor Evans Kidero, the 2017 gubernatorial elections will remain in his memory as it was an uphill task.

Evans Kidero fought to retain his seat from Peter Kenneth and Mike Mbuvi Sonko.

Fresh details have emerged that the former Nairobi county boss spent Ksh 418 million during the campaign but ended up losing his seat.

According to an article by the Standard, the lost campaign emanates from a long tax battle with the Kenya Revenue Authority.

A court document filed by Kidero’s lawyers shows that he spent Ksh 37 million on his party the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM).

At the same time, Ksh 53 million was used to set up his campaign centre.

Kidero’s team spent another Ksh 75 million on media and publicity, Ksh 25 million on the nomination, Sh 47 million on publicity materials, while his agents used Ksh 55 million to reimburse travellers.

Kidero additionally rented an office at the cost of Ksh 7 million that he used to carry out his political activities for 36 months.

The former governor splashed Ksh 20 million to launch his political bid while Ksh 8 million went on research and poll tracking.

Further, the document reveals that Kidero used Ksh 19 million to fuel cars and Ksh 25 million to monitor elections.

An additional Ksh 16 million was for capital expenditure, while Ksh 6 million was for entertainment.

According to the document filed by Kidero, it also gives a list of the guests who attended his fundraiser. Most of them include influential business people in the country.

It’s alleged the former county boss was to spend Ksh 423 million in the campaign, but he ended up spending Ksh 418 million.

After losing to Mike Sonko, Kidero remained with Ksh 4 million as pocket change.

However, on its part, KRA says that despite spending that amount on campaigning, he still needed to pay tax.

The taxman added that Kidero received the funds before campaigns kicked off.

KRA said that the tribunal ignored the fund deposit between 2011 and 2013.

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Duo gives libraries vital facelift



Public libraries are vital as storehouse of knowledge; they mould character of cities. Yet, most public libraries are in dilapidated conditions and require a facelift.

At the end of 2018, author Wanjiru Koinange and publisher Angela Wacuka, founders of Book Bunk, conducted a research and found out that contrary to popular opinion that Kenyan’s don’t read, 300 people were walking in and out of public libraries every single day to use them. For this reason, three years ago, they set up Book Bunk to give public libraries a new lease of life after decades of neglect.

“Our mission is to restore public libraries, to convert them not just from a physical perspective but also from a social and experiential perspective. In a sense, what are other people doing in their spaces, what

are they getting access to, what are they reading and what kind of services are in public that we can bring to the libraries,” starts Wanjiru.

They have three projects, with Macmillan Memorial Library as the flagship and others in Makadara and Kaloleni in Nairobi. Two years before the renovations, the duo spent time doing a lot of programming work, events and research, and when the funds came, they began physical restoration, starting with Kaloleni.

However, Covid-19 happened and with it came new rules and regulations on how construction work should continue. At that point, the two had already hired 28 people as casual labourers for the project. Luckily, by the time the new regulations were set, they had already done the bulk of renovation and all that was left was just painting and tiling, which could be done by fewer staff members.

“It didn’t feel right for them to stop because they were relying on the cash to survive. We began looking at how they could space out work, even though it would take longer, but it meant that we could still keep them. They were able to do that and currently they have completed the renovation of first branch,” she says Though risky, they used local people to work on the project to make them feel part and parcel of it. Since land grabbing is prevalent in these areas, most locals look at those who walk in with projects suspiciously, thus educating them on the project’s significance was not a walk in the park.

“It wasn’t a one day or week event to convince people of our intention. We had to go there time and again trying to sell the idea to them that public spaces can be beautiful and functional whether they are in Runda or Kaloleni,” says Wanjiru.

The Kaloleni project is now complete and the community is vigilant in safeguarding it and ensuring that there is no vandalism.

Working with the government has been a challenge and a bonus for the pair. A challenge because bureaucracy in these institutions makes things drag than they would if handled by a private entity. Nevertheless, meeting kind people in offices made it easier for them navigate things that could have take a long time to deal with. The second challenge has been financing their project.

Operational funding “Operational funding is our greatest challenge. It’s shocking to me that in this day and age, people still expect to have their

names on the building when they support a project without even catering for salaries of people who do the work. Wacuka and I struggle to find cash to pay our people’s salaries, to give the people committed to the project good life and not have to worry about anything. It breaks my heart all the time because we don’t struggle to find money for events or research, yer for salaries, it is a struggle,” she explains.

The pandemic has made the two think of future libraries, which is leaning towards being more technological.

“We are currently creating a framework on what digital adoption will look like. The Makadara Library is full of university students and teenagers, which will force us go digital because young people in that age bracket are using technology. This means we must have plans for high speed internet, tablets and we must also have a place where people can experiment with coding; that’s the future of libraries. I think libraries as public spaces needs to evolve into more of community centres instead of rooms full of books. This evolution cannot ignore tech or it’s bound to fail,” she adds.

With Macmillan, they are trying to Africanise the library.

Library and culture “When the Macmillan Library was opened in 1931, black people weren’t allowed in. Presently, if you look at the collection, you’ll realise the content was not meant for Kenyans. On the other hand, the library in Kaloleni is such a significant one in our history, but no one talks about. The building became the unofficial parliament before it was even set up,” she says.

The pair has been trying to reconnect libraries with cultures and to have African literature and art represented.

Understanding the youths are idle during this pandemic and that going to libraries has been prohibited due to health risks at the moment, the organisation has also been trying to take the library to the local’s homes.

“We hired people to find out how many children live in every single estate and in Kaloleni, we found out that they were about 190 children. We appealed to our partners and friends for colouring books, toys and novels and walked around giving the kids in their homes,” she recalls So far, Kaloleni was just a pilot project in as far as the book donation drive was concerned. They plan to do this in Makadara as well.

“The future is more libraries and we want to create a template, which can be replicated in as many libraries as possible. We want to create a team in whatever spaces that we can who can carry out the work and have more libraries than bars,” she says in conclusion.

• Wanjiru is a writer and has recently released a book, Havoc of Choice.

• Angela Wacuka was the director of Kwani Trust for around eight years and that’s when she met Wanjiru and the two became friends. Wanjiru started assisting Wacuka manage her events and that’s how their work relationship was borne.

• While Wanjiru is good at management and administration, Wacuka is an incredible networker and communicator.

• They have sessions where they ask each other how they are doing. They have also a small staff who check on them and give their expertise instead of doing it all on their own.


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