If you have travelled the length and breadth of Kenya, you might have noticed that most businesses share common names.
While some of them are named after prominent people, places and topical issues - like Obama School, Kosovo Bar and Eurobond Butchery - it’s clear that Kenyans are not a creative lot when it comes to business names.
Here are 10 names you are likely to encounter in any part of the country:
Most businesses with this name turn out to be the exact opposite in terms of service and even decor. Imagine checking into some ‘classic’ hotel somewhere in Nyahururu offering bed, breakfast and hot water, only to sleep in kunguni-infested beds with cold shower water and thin walls through which you can hear the moans and groans of people raruaring mashuka.
This business name is supposed to mean ‘let’s embrace love,’ but once two beers or tot get to a reveller’s head ‘love’ seeps through the veins to a room with a Gideons Bible at Tupendane Bar and Lodging.
Just why some entrepreneurs think of calling their food kiosks Jasho Hotel is beyond hungry comprehension. The image of sweat inside a smoke-filled eatery is enough to kill hunger pangs.
This is a name chosen for most merciless lodgings around the country. In fact, while ‘investors’ settle on this name, especially lodgings, with the intention of discouraging those intending to break the seventh commandment, the reverse is usually the case as old men take girls there without overnight huruma. Close to huruma is the name Furaha for Furaha Wines and Spirits, which is justified if the patrons full of tipsy smiles in rural Ugenya are anything to go by.
5. White House
Hundreds of businesses have been named after the official residence and principal workplace of the President of the United States of America in futile attempts to endear themselves to foreigners. But White House apartments in places like Githurai are neither white nor posh.
This name is associated with upscale estates in Nairobi, Nakuru, Kakamega, Kitale and Kisumu. But some businesspeople use the name on businesses in places where there is no mlima: Milimani Greengrocers could be on a very flat and dusty area of Kahawa West!
7. Mti moja
For unknown reason, this name that means ‘single or lone tree,’ appears in almost all trading centres, most of them without a single tree. The name is mostly used for roadside shops, posho mills, eateries and barbershops.
8. Soko mjinga
There is a popular open-air market named Soko Mjinga in Nakuru and it’s where fresh food produce is sold at throw-away prices to suggest the farmers are very jinga in their soko. Alas! most of what they sell is no different, price wise that is, to what is sold in Nairobi, but this has not stopped other places like Mombasa and Korogocho in Nairobi from adopting Soko Mjinga to connote affordability.
Wherever a highway passes in sleepy villages of remote Baringo or Marakwet, you’ll be sure to find Highway Bar and Butchery or Highway Kinyozi.
Close to Highway is picking the name Junction for businesses adjacent to the said highway. Junction Pork Place, Junction Salon, Junction Hardware and Junction Car Wash are not uncommon and all in one row...next to Junction Stage!