My plan was to suggest to the employees in our house that they open a bank account, then I could pay their salaries directly to each individual. It's also time for a pay rise, so I would welcome not having to make covert trips to the bank to withdraw fistfuls of 1,000 shilling notes.
In spite of my initial fears, on making preliminary enquiries, I was pleasantly surprised.
'Oh, Equity, I have one of those accounts, no problem.' One said.
Another, 'I opened an account some time ago, I just need to go to Westlands to collect the card.'
'I have a Postbank account, will that do?'
This is what normally happens. I throw out what I think might be a complex task for others to complete, then find it immediately flips back onto me to make the next move. Hang on a minute, I thought, just how do I get these salaries paid into these various accounts when from month-to-month, depending on personal loans taken for trips home/funerals etc, the amount I pay out is always different.
One lady (the one who used to keep cash in her room on our plot - that is, until recently when it got stolen by the night watchman) had to go off work early to visit Postbank (banking hours 9am to 4pm) where she found she does indeed have an account, though they do charge an annual fee of around 450 shillings. This was fine.
The second lady wanted a lift to Westlands so that she could pick up her Equity card. I thought I'd swing by on a round trip via school this afternoon but I tell you, today the traffic was terrible! On arrival at the Westlands Branch, she was unsurprisingly informed that her card (which apparently had been waiting for her since last August) had been sent back to the hidden depths that is HQ. As far as I understand it, she now has to apply for a new card.
It seems that launching ourselves into the 21st (even 20th!) century here in Nairobi is, like everything, going to take time and patience. I think I might just risk it and do cash again this month.....