I’ve just met some of those expat twenty-somethings that I was telling you about recently. The ones who are flocking to
Kenya to stimulate social enterprise in tech, investments, engineering - you name it. In fact I actually met a young expat who was working for an investor in social
entrepreneurship projects. The investment company she works for finds sustainable,
innovative companies to sink money in to and then they hope to see not only a cash
return but social good come out of it. I've learned via Google that this is
called Socially Responsible Investing (SRI). Investments could be in low cost
housing, low cost schools, locally made jewellery/crafts that are being sold to
multinational fashion chains, affordable solar lighting – that sort of thing.
Whatever this business is,
it’s mostly spoken in a foreign language. Terms like ‘pipeline meetings’ and 'socially responsible' 'sustainability' etc etc are bandied
about and I can actually hear my brain whirring in an effort to keep up. It’s
exciting, dynamic and – correct me if I’m wrong - grown out of a need born from ‘rich’
foreigners/investors who – perhaps bored of the limitations of developed financial markets - seek
excitement and want to see their money ‘do some good’ in Africa. A ‘socially responsible’ profit from these canny
investments is ripe for the picking and even better, everyone can feel good about
Entrepreneurship is the buzz word in
Nairobi today. Don’t you know? that is why
Obama is coming in out here July. He’s going to attend the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship
Summit in Nairobi – and also might find time to see Granny Sarah.
But none of this is the point. The real point is that I also learned over
the past couple of months that there’s this whole, huge, fun social life going
on in Nairobi without me knowing. Shocker. While hiding in my house, waving goodbye to expat leaving, there has been a whole lot happening elsewhere.
Suddenly I feel bad for those single girls who have been in
contact with me via the Africa Expat Wives Club blog and forum over the years,
asking if they should take that posting to Nairobi, or rather choose London. I thought that those twenty-something girls Nairobi bound from overseas, were in
danger of ending up on the shelf having been forced to live a closeted life here. It’s
hard to meet a man if you are locked up in some compound, scared to drive out
after dark alone. But how wrong I
am! That will teach you for seeking advice from someone who is over the hill and past their party prime. Now, with what I know today, I would say, 'come on over girls,
it’s on!' There are tons of cool pop-up bars and clubs with live music, djs, whisky and fun (not that I've visited them, or if I have, it was probably the wrong day, or time of day). Westlands is largely the place to
be on a night out (from what I can make out via my binoculars...tee hee). There are tons of young people having 'the best time ever' here. The social life is diverse. If you are looking for expat enclaves, there are none. The scene is mixed, which is just as it should be. They are
free, networking, engaged with life and many are doing things that are making a difference to society.
Kenya has a lot of bad press and no one can deny that horrendous incidents happen with alarming repetition but in spite of this, there is a wealth of opportunity to get stuck into something that you love. It’s a dynamic, fun place to live – especially for the young
and single. Nairobi is big and the social life has now been described to me by someone young enough to be in the know (23) as AMAZING! So if you are feeling adventurous, don't be alarmed. Get your party on and come on over! It's slightly out of date, but nevertheless sums up the city well. Read this article for more: Expat Lives: The London of Africa Also, check out the Nairobi Expat Social (NES) - Facebook page
Check out: The Juniper Kitchen - for a hip and happening weekend hangout in Westlands behind ABC Place.