Thursday, 26 March 2009

It can only get better (part II)

I have just heard from Vincent and he has found two premises, in the same town centre block, one on the 4th and one on the 5th floors. The higher we go the less we pay in rent. On that premise, I would be happy with something on the 10th floor, but it only goes up to 6th.

As we have proved that there are too many cyber cafés in Kisii to make any inroads, I have told him that we are changing direction slightly. We already offer computer repairs, configuration etc., and I want to introduce office services and IT tutoring (I taught IT to adult classes for several years in the UK and still have all the course notes).

Thankfully, Vincent is in agreement with the idea, so it looks like the week is improving.

And the kids are going to start clearing some of the land at the plot so we can start planting our crops.

We have a good supply of manure and I want to get a compost heap going as soon as possible.

I have to say I feel a lot more upbeat than I did this morning.

It can only get better ...

The day has started badly.

A couple of days ago, I installed a new hard drive in my laptop and installed Windows XP. Today, I tried to activate Windows and the registration process refused the key. So I had to phone Microsoft and go through their activation process, typing in a string of digits on the phone, then another string onto the PC.

I knocked my tobacco tin off the desk onto the floor wasting a lot of cigarette-making paraphernalia.

I spilled a cup of very hot tea onto my lap.

This, on top of the news of our pending eviction in Kisii (see previous post), and my week so far is not going well.

My man in Kisii, Vincent, thinks he has found new premises, but it is more outlay of scarce funds that I could do without. So, either I go to Kenya next month, or I send the money over to bail out the business.

My heart says go to Kenya, my head says bail out the business - why don't they ever agree?

I will have to make a decision very soon. My bag is more or less packed and ready to go.

OK, so it's now Thursday. Can the week get any worse? Probably, if I let it. So I am searching around the recesses of my head, looking for positive thought - something to cheer me up.

And what pops up?

A herd of giraffe serenely munching away at trees with thorns the length of my finger.

A little girl kissing a rhino.

A bunch of South African township kids mesmerised by the antics of meerkats frolicking not three metres away from them.

Stroking a cheetah.

A Maasai kid trying to separate his herd of goats from the zebra that have wandered into "his" patch.

Baboons sitting on rocks watching the traffic go by.

Flamingoes on Lake Nakuru.

Watching and listening to the kids at the Twiga Children's Home playing - for a couple of hours, without a care in the world.

There, I feel a lot better, now.

Monday, 23 March 2009

It never rains, but it pours

We have been given notice of eviction. At the Internet Café in Kisii, Kenya and we have to be out by the end of the month!

In this time of recession, and Kenya is affected as much as anywhere, our landlord has decided to pull down the building and build a tower block.

We have been offered other premises, it has to be said, better, more central premises. But there, they want one year's rent in advance - no chance of us finding that sort of money.

Kisii is a vibrant, bustling town. Commerce is thriving, so finding premises to rent at a price we can afford is virtually impossible. But my manager is on the case. If there is anything available, he will find it. But if there is nothing available within our price range, it could be the end of my first enterprise in Kenya, although the business is registered, and I have the certificate.

Of course, there is another course of action. We have the (dormant) business to export Kisii soapstone carvings. We had intended exporting in bulk, but we could sell individual items or small quantities. The problem is that the price soars as soapstone is very heavy. It is also very brittle, so we would have to increase the packaging, which again increases costs.

Maybe, fate (or something) is trying to tell me something. I am not a businessman, I am an engineer. Maybe I should keep my fingers out of enterprise and stick to designing and making things. But the idea of the cyber café was to give my friend, Vincent, an income so that he could then put more energy into looking after our kids at the Twiga Children's Home.