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CITY GIRL: How to spot young tenderpreneurs

By NJOKI CHEGE November 20th, 2015 4 min read

Tenderpreneur: A young person, mostly male, who has made an extraordinary amount of money from a government contract- such as the supply of biro pens or a consulting service of any kind.

Synonyms: New money, nouveau riche.

You may hate the government as much as you want but one thing you’ve got to credit it for is its contribution to the rise of tenderpreneurs.

Now, more than ever, young people are landing government contracts and tenders and the result is a burgeoning crop of newly minted millionaires all over this city.

In a country where a pen sells for Sh8,700, tenderpreneurship is the way to go.

Why waste time with introductions? Let me get straight to the point. Here is how to spot a tenderpreneur.

1. The man: A tenderpreneur is usually a young man, mostly in his early thirties — say 32. In his group of ‘boys’, he is the loudest and because he thinks he is the most successful.

He started out as a simple junior accountant with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Nairobi and a black suit. He was happy with his bland, low-paying eight-to-five government job until he discovered tenderpreneurship.

Today, he is a man of class. Well, at least he thinks so. He has since added a few pounds and has a potbelly to show. Because he is new money, he will find an opportunity to introduce himself.

He has this notion that to impress a woman, one has to drop lines like: “Oh, I just had lunch with Kidero” or “I just landed a contract of Sh33 million to supply the government with cotton wool”.

His phone calls are loud and annoying. You will know that it was the deputy president’s private assistant on the other side and you will know he is about to strike a deal.

“No, tell him I am not taking 50. I will only take 70. By the way, there is somebody who is willing to give me 80”, where 50, 70 and 80 refer to millions of shillings.

The tenderpreneur has no respect for women. He has two baby mamas and another one in the offing. I will expound more on this later.

His social media account — in this case Facebook and Instagram — are filled with pictures of his new shoes, watches, Mercedes S-Class and his latest trip to Dubai. The Instagram photos are always accompanied with a nondescript quote in the form of hashtags such as #WorkHardPlayHarder. You will occasionally see a photo of his two-year-old son in with a caption #LeFamilia.

2. The car: Two years ago, this tenderpreneur used to struggle to fuel his 1,500cc Toyota NZE. He was always shuttling between the garage and Grogon, bargaining for used spare parts.

He was the guy whose car always broke down during every road trip. Or the one whose car always had an issue so he had to hitch a ride with a friend. Those days are long gone.

Today, he is the proud owner of a brand new Prado TX registration number (KCD XXXJ). It is a sleek, black and intimidating thing and now, he no longer avoids going to his boy’s ruracio.

In fact, in the convoy of cars leading to the ruracio, his car is at the lead — because he wants to test the road for the rest of you.

The tenderpreneur and his car are joined at the lip. He never ceases to talk about ‘my car’. He even has a name for the car. She is called Santa Maria. It is always about ‘my car this, my prado that, my Mercedes this…”

Njoro, the cheap mechanic from South B, is long forgotten. He now services his car at Toyota Kenya and buys spare parts from Dubai. Should he be also a proud owner of a Mercedes Benz, his Instagram photos must capture the Mercedes Logo either on the steering wheel or the top of the bonnet.

3. The wardrobe: Two years ago, the tenderpreneur’s end month weekend was spent at Gikomba market, ruffling through a barrage of mitumba clothes and bargaining for the ‘camera’ jeans from the hottest bale of second hand clothes.

Today, he buys his Italian suits from those shops on Kimathi Street with pretty, brown-skinned salesgirls. He has a ‘guy’ who brings him shoes from Europe.

There is a woman who brings him shirts from Dubai. He has since learnt to match his brown shoe with a brown belt.

Most of the time, he will take a picture of his brightly coloured socks — say a mix and match of yellow and green — and post it on social media.

Many women think he is a sharp dresser, but I don’t know why he insists on wearing a muscle shirt with only a potbelly to show. And before I forget, his favourite weekend outfit — this tenderpreneur — is a crisp, white linen suit and a colourful shirt.

Who dresses like that anyway?

4. The women: He has many women, this man. He has two baby mamas, all very well taken care of. One may be living in Nyayo Estate and the other in South B. He prides himself in paying bills on time and occasionally taking the children out for lunch.

If you are a brainless, easily impressed young woman, then you are the prime candidate for a tenderpreneur girlfriend. You stand a better chance if you have a long weave.

He has no respect for women as he thinks they are after his money. He is the kind of guy who will leave the table on a date to talk to his lady friends.