Last Thursday, the Kenyan nation celebrated the Mashujaa Day, also known as Heroes’ day. Each year, on the 20th October Kenya celebrate and commemorate the freedom fighters who established the independence of the Republic of Kenya in 1964. One of the most famous Kenyan heroes who helped to lay the foundation for the birth of the nation was Jomo Kenyatta, the nation’s first president. Whilst most of the expatriates had taken a long weekend off travelling away, I had the opportunity to celebrate this independence day amongst many local Kenyans in the slums of Kayole where we distribute our new micro-insurance product.
One of the recent projects I have been working on involves distributing a micro-health insurance product in the Kayole area of Nairobi. The Kayole Soweto settlement is a high density urban slum that make up the Embakasi government districtin the eastern part of Nairobi. It was initially formed by the transfer of poor people from city centre to the outskirts. Soweto has an informal population of about 300,000 with mostly women headed households, living in overcrowded one-room corrugated iron dwellings. People who live in Soweto are displaced Kenyans who lost land in tribal conflicts, migrants from rural towns looking for brighter futures and refugees from neighbouring countries.Most residents engage in casual unskilled and semi-skilled jobs and self-employment in small scale enterprises earning up to Ksh 200 (USD $2) per day with few on formal employment. The average monthly income in this area is estimated to be approximately between Ksh 12,000 – 15,000 (i.e. $120-150 USD). Unemployment and crime are common concerns in the area.
Our innovative micro-insurance product was initially distributed in the clinics of Kayole area, and have subsequently expanded to the wider community. As a result, we partnered up with a local marketing company in running a road-show in this community in building up trust in our brand. This involved having a touring show of performers as part of this promotional campaign along the jagged roads in Kayole. These creative performers used skits and dances to entertain their audience on the road whilst educating them about insurance products. As part of the marketing campaign, our company gave out branded items such as T-shirts, water bottles and pens. I could not help but to notice the contrast of such a road show in the Kayole community compared to those at home. I have never seen such exhilarated and energised crowd with only a truck, audio speaker, performers and few branded prizes. From the smiling faces of our road show audiences – from young kids to grown-up adults – I experienced one of the greatest celebrations of Mashujaa Day in Kayole. As Dr Steve Maraboli says: “happiness is found in the simplest of things. Happiness is found in gratitude, in all magnificence of life.”