Such a simple word, a pleading word, Zuri Kabinda thought as she said it again.
“Please give me time. I will make the payment in two weeks.”
“Miss Kabinda, why did you let it get this bad?” Sylvia, her loan officer, asked.
The woman spoke as though she hadn’t made her payments on time. Shaking her head, Zuri prayed for help from a higher power.
“I’m trying to make you understand my situation. Business was slow last month. The money I had paid my business expenses. I’ll do my best to fund raise for this last payment, but it will take me at least two weeks. Please, don’t blacklist me.”
“You’re making things hard for me. If you can’t pay your installment in time–”
“I have paid on time for the last six months. This is the final payment, please. I’ll make sure it’s done.”
Zuri owned an event planning business named Binda Events. She’d started Binda Events two years ago, after quitting her advertising job in an international firm. Her mother had not taken that move well. Start-up was hard and challenging, most months she struggled to make ends meet, but this month was especially hard. She hadn’t gotten any events to plan in two weeks. With no income coming in, she was strapped for cash.
Sylvia let out another sigh and Zuri crossed her fingers on her lap. She really needed this woman to consent. She’d woken up this morning to a call from the bank urging her to pay her loan arrears. A loan she’d taken six months ago to expand her business. Six months ago, she’d opened an office and hired an assistant to help her with the influx of clients she’d gained. Her clients seemed to have dwindled this last month, bringing her sales down.
Last night, she spent the evening paying bills and counting the amount left in her personal account with apprehension.
She needed a client and soon.
“Miss Kabinda,” Sylvia interrupted her thoughts. “I’m giving you two weeks. I’m counting on you to make a payment on time otherwise; we’re both going to end up in a tough position. Do you understand?”
Elated, Zuri held out her hand to Sylvia and when the woman shook hers, she smiled.
“Thank you so much. I’m not going to let you down. I promise. Thank you.”
Letting go of Sylvia’s hand, she grabbed her handbag and dashed out of the cubicle before the woman changed her mind.
She left the bank in a state of anxiety. The sun blazed above in that merciless January way. She still had to walk to the Binda Events offices. Biting back a groan, she crossed Kikuyu road and headed toward the Riruta Catholic Church. Her office building was along Naivasha Road across from the church.
Zuri hoped her assistant had gotten one client even if it was to plan a small tea gathering.
A stone caught in her shoe and she paused to get it out. Her feet were dusty from walking up and down this morning, trying to raise enough cash for rent. Her phone buzzed and she reached for it with a frown.
“Binda Events,” she said, as pleasantly as she could manage.
“I’m not calling for money,” her best friend Sonnie said with a laugh. “Jeez, cheer up. What did the loan officer say?”
“She gave me two weeks,” Zuri said with a relieved sigh. “Where are you?”
“At your office, hurry,” Sonnie said. “I got you something.”
Sonnie Togo ended the call as abruptly as it started.
Zuri bit back a chuckle and increased her pace heading to her office. She reached the small shopping center across the church and slowed down. The apartment complex where she lived, dwarfed her office building. She’d been lucky to get an office so close to her home.
Passing a butcher and a salon, she entered the reception area of her small office to find her assistant Anjik and Sonnie laughing merrily.
“There she is,” Sonnie said and stood up holding a white cake box. “I have the fix for all your problems.”
Zuri grinned as Sonnie opened the box to reveal nine delicious chocolate cupcakes. Taking one cupcake, she took a bite and sighed in appreciation. She always loved Amari Cupcakes. Soft, moist, and so full of chocolate, her worries disappeared at the first taste. She took a seat on one of the reception chairs and dropped her handbag on the seat beside her with a sigh.
Taking another bite-,
Mmm…chocolate could cure all problems, she thought as she demolished the cupcake. She glanced up to find Sonnie and Anjik watching her.
“What?” she asked.
“Was it that good?” Anjik asked with amusement.
“I was starving,” Zuri said.
Sonnie laughed. “It’s a good thing I bought the box of nine then. Anjik, get some coffee please.”
When Anjik hurried off to their tiny little kitchen in the back, Sonnie turned to look at her.
“How bad is it?”
“My loan is overdue and the loan officer was threatening to blacklist me this morning. I just spent the last hour convincing her to give me time.”
“At least she agreed,”Sonnie said, reaching for her handbag. Zuri ate another cupcake as her friend got an envelope from her purse and held it out. “Here.”
Placing her cupcake on a napkin on Anjik’s desk, Zuri took the envelope and opened it to find ten thousand shillings. Zuri felt a lump of tears lodge in her throat. She took in a deep breath to get a hold of her emotions.
“You don’t have to do this, Sonnie.”
“What are friends for?” Sonnie asked with a small smile. “I have the cash, and you need it.”
Zuri moved then, wrapping Sonnie in a tight hug.
“Thank you,” she said,the word sounding inadequate. It was so small; it couldn’t possibly express her gratitude in this situation. “Gosh, Sonnie, you’re like an angel sent to me.”
Sonnie patted her back with a small chuckle. “Relax, I didn’t do it alone. Airi contributed too.”
Airi Ketu was her other best friend.
“But you put her up to it,” Zuri said pulling back, hugging the envelope. “What would I do without you two?”
Sonnie winked. “Stumble along blindly, but you’d be okay. What happens now?”
Letting out a relieved breath, Zuri smiled.
“I’ll make the loan payment, which is four thousand,and then search for a client. If you know someone who has an event, direct them my way.”
Zuri put the envelope in her handbag and met Sonnie’s gaze.
“I’m insane. I mean, giving up a regular paycheck for this, you’d call me crazy, right?”
Sonnie shrugged studying her cupcake.
“I think you’re brave. I’m in a job, and I wish I was you.”
“What part?” Zuri asked with a laugh. “Broke, messy hair or the cupboards full of noodles?”
“Your independence, you’re your own boss, you own a business…should I keep going?”
Zuri smiled and shook her head. “Thanks Sonnie.”
Anjik came in with a flask of coffee and three cups. They sat around Anjik’s desk, enjoying Amari Chocolate Cupcakes. Her world wasn’t perfect, Zuri thought, as she listened to Anjik and Sonnie talk about who to hassle for an event, but it was almost there.
Now, if she could just get a client.
To be continued…Thank you for reading!
Zuri Kabinda is a story about a young woman in her late twenties, living in Nairobi and struggling to make her Event Planning Business work. Follow her as she works through the various challenges young entrepreneurs face, especially in a city like Nairobi.
Zuri is joined by her two best friends, Sonnie and Airi. They’re the people she relies on, especially when she’s down on her luck and the world is imploding.
All baked goods mentioned refer to the Amari Baking Center