Could BebaPay & Lipa na Mpesa help mothers deal with ‘Madam Sina Fare’


lipa-na-m-pesaThis morning I read an interesting article from my fellow mum blogger Mummy Tales on the ‘Madam Sina Fare‘ phenomenon.

I have had numerous instances of this. The first house help I ever hired was when I was 8 months pregnant with our first born. I had been given a list of ‘no nos’ in regards to hiring househelps.  some of them were;

– Don’t hire Kikuyu girls especially from Kabete and Murang’a. They will steal from you in broad day light
– Do not hire luo girls, they are dirty
– Do not hire kamba girls, they will be-witch your child
– Do not hire coastal girls , they are lazy
-Do not hire a Kisii  or Meru girl,  if you get her pissed, she will take it on the kids ( in kyuk we say, ekwiruta mathata na ciana ciaku)
– Do not hire girls from Nyeri, they will burn your husband with hot water (ok, am the one who has added that last one)

Most of these stem from the many stereotypes we have on ‘people from those same communities’

I was therefore left with a choice of getting either a Luhya or Embu help. I got a Luhya one. She did not have a phone and so I had to liaise with her through the uncle whose command of Kiswahili wasn’t great. When we finally agreed she would report to work, I was told I needed to send her fare! I asked a few friends and was told, it was very normal especially with girls from upcountry. 

I took the risk. The uncle, feeling he had done me a real favour, kept pestering me for ‘kitu kidogo ya asante’.  She only worked for 2 months before I sent her packing.

There is one who conned me and my sister after travelling to her home in Embu to collect her ID. She first asked my sister to mpesa her, then called me. She never showed up. She also disappeared with the work phone I had bought her.

My current Nanny has been with us for 3 years now. She only asks for fare when there is an emergency at home as she has a daughter to support. I rarely deduct the money from her salary as we have reached a point that I really appreciate her worth.

From the MummyTales article,  this is a real problem and many girls have turned it into a profession. So what is the solution?

BebaPay CardTechnology.

By July this year, Kenyan public service transport payment methods are expected to be fully cashless with electronic payment systems, according to a government gazette.
Public service vehicles such as ‘matatus’ (minibus taxis)  are expected to be affected by the regulation.

Early last year, Equity Bank and Google  partnered to establish ‘BebaPay’, a cashless payment system for Kenyan matatus.

Meanwhile, Safaricom has reportedly signed up to 1,300 public transport vehicles including taxis through their “Lipa na MPesa”  billing system.

This is all new technology that is yet to be fully accepted in many matatus but it could solve a lot of problems especially for us mums who have to ‘send fare’ to our house helps when they go upcountry and forget they need to get back to work or those who need the fare to report for their first day of work.

The other way I see it working great for mothers like me is when something runs out in the house and you were not told in advance. Instead of sending money to the house help, one can simply get the pay bill number of the mama mboga and the neighbourhood kiosk so that the house help will just be going to pick items.

So maybe this ‘Madam sina Fare‘ phenomenon will soon be a thing of the past come July.  Lets hope the government will be motivated enough to fully implement it although my friend Kachwanya thinks outlawing cash payments in public transport is a wrong move.


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  1. Pingback: Mummy Tales Could BebaPay & Lipa na Mpesa Help mothers Deal with the ‘Madam Sina Fare’ Phenomenon?

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