The situation: I am upcountry with no talktime on my pre paid phone. Christmas was coming up and the ability to communicate to the world beyond this village is vital. At the same time an unexpected vehicle emergency had wiped out all my cash and the nearest ATM machines are over an hour way (due to the terrible state of the roads) and it was raining badly.
But I had a credit card, a laptop and a WAP enable mobile phone. I convinced a good Samaritan (a younger cousin having his arm twisted) to sambaza me KSH 100.00 of mobile phone airtime with promises of greater rewards in the not to distance future and thus began my quest for mobile phone juice. I plugged the phone into the laptop, connected to Safaricom WAP and was on the MamaMikes website in a jiffy. I pulled out my credit card and purchased a Safaricom airtime â€œgiftâ€ of GBP 15.00 about KSH 2,000.00 for myself. (This remains my largest one time mobile phone airtime purchase to date). The whole procedure took around ten minutes.
Ten minutes later I got a call from MamaMikes to â€œcheck on a few thingsâ€:
Q: You are Daudi
Q: You are in Kenya
Q: You are using you are using your credit card to buy Safaricom airtime
Q: For yourself
YOU LAZY MUPPET (OK the MamaMikeâ€™s guy didnâ€™t say that but I could hear him thinking that. I could have quickly become the inspiration for a new joke:
What is the height of laziness?
Using your credit card to buy Safaricom airtime via MamaMikes, like that cartoon Mental, because you can not be bothered to walk down the road to the kiosk.)
I explained my situation to the MamaMikes rep, he asked me to confirm some credit card security details and satisfied I was not committing credit card fraud sent the airtime to my phone, which enabled me to send my nearest and dearest (as well as a Western Union stealing muppet ;-) ) Merry Christmas txt messages and thus preserve world peace.
My second MamaMikes story. Itâ€™s my birthday and I am happily typing away at work when my phone rings. MamaMikes would like to know where to deliver my card and birthday cake. What a pleasant surprise. Since I was heading downtown we agreed that I could pick it from their office. One hour later I turn up at MamaMikes and collected a fantastic cake, purchased for me by a fantastic person, a fantastic number of miles away from Kenya.
That evening the family couldnâ€™t believe that a cake ordered by someone half way around the world over the internet had arrived before the cake they ordered from a bakery half way up the road. It brought home to the people around me the power of this thing called the internet.
MamaMikes is a fantastic story of how Kenyan entrepreneurs are connecting Kenyans in the Diaspora to Kenyans at home. You can send airtime, flowers, supermarket vouchers, cards and even pay school fees direct to the school via MamaMikes no matter where you are in the world. It is also an example that e-businesses can and do thrive in our country. This makes MamaMikes an inspiration to many of us.
However, the ultimate respect from me came the day they started offering â€œNgombe ya maziwaâ€ via their website. A healthy Friesian cow for dairy purposes for USD 740.00. They helpfully add: Ideal for someone with a small shamba close to a milk depot where they can sell their milk.
A dairy cow via the internet, now you all know what to get me for my birthday next year.