The Economics of Kenyan Cupcakes

Sugarpie Cupcakes. Nairobi, Kenya

Nairobi’s first cupcake shop demonstrates the power of a rising consumer class — and teaches a lesson about labor in emerging economies, too.

If anyone needed more evidence that Kenya’s economy is on the rise, a sort of confirmation arrived recently — in buttercream and a half dozen flavors that change daily.

Sugarpie Cupcakes in Nairobi has won plenty of fans and local press, attesting to this city’s changing tastes. The expats tend to favor Belgian chocolate, while the Kenyans prefer chai or red velvet, but overall sales have grown fast since the business launched late last year.
nike free running shoe
Running the business is no cakewalk — but its vagaries and workarounds reveal a lot about Nairobi’s consumerist aspirations, and the economics that underlie them. A rising number of middle-upper-income Kenyans sees cupcakes as one of many small luxuries they can afford. And some among Kenya’s large, (non)working class see that as something to aspire to.

Read the full story at

Kenya’s workers fear for their pensions as the country cries ‘scandal’


Samwel Wambiri stands in his home located on the Tassia II land, on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya. (Jacob Kushner/GlobalPost)

A botched investment by Kenya’s social security agency may delay workers’ retirement benefits, make a Chinese construction firm richer and leave thousands of small landowners with nothing.

By Anthony Langat and Jacob Kushner
macys coach bags
NAIROBI, Kenya—This, says Samuel Wambiri, is how corruption can disrupt a life in Kenya.

Ten years ago, the 54-year-old father of three purchased a small plot of land on the outskirts of Nairobi for a modest 315,000 shillings. That’s about $3,700, which Wambiri agreed to pay over 10-years. And upon that land, Wambiri built a home where he and his wife could retire.

But last month, just as Wambiri had finished paying it off, the agency that sold him the land announced some troubling news: Wambiri would have to pay 920,000 shillings, or $10,824 more — four times more than his original investment. That’s because the Nairobi County governor decided Kenya’s National Social Security Fund (NSSF), which sold the land, needed to build a sewage system and access roads through it at significant cost.

The NSSF announced it would transfer the cost of the utilities to the landowners themselves.

“I was happy that I had finally finished paying for my land,” Wambiri said. “I was looking for somewhere to settle, and I settled.”
louis vuitton handbags on sale
But now, Wambiri and an estimated 5,500 fellow small-parcel landowners in Nairobi’s Tassia II neighborhood may be forced to vacate their new land altogether if they don’t find a way to pay the bill.

Read the full story at GlobalPost.

Al Shabab Attacks Kenya Border Towns, Says Violence Will Continue Until Troops Withdrawn From Somalia

Associated Press


NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — After almost a week, there is no precise death toll, no word on the fate of dozens still missing and no details on the al-Qaida-linked terrorists who attacked Nairobi’s most upscale mall.

As al-Shabab militants struck two Kenyan border towns and threatened more violence, relatives of the mall victims wept outside the city morgue Thursday, frustrated by the lack of information and a holdup in the release of bodies of the victims.

Roy Sam, whose brother, 33-year-old Thomas Ogala, was killed, said he had been going to the morgue since Monday, but workers there had not prepared his brother’s body, which was mangled by a close-range gunshot wound to the head – an apparent execution.

“They said they were going to prepare the body to make it look nice, but we came back the next day and the next, and it wasn’t any different,” Sam said.

The morgue superintendent, Sammy Nyongesa Jacob, said workers were told not to touch the bodies until post-mortuary studies had been completed.

Kenya’s chief pathologist, Johansen Oduor, said his team was removing bullets and shrapnel from victims to find out exactly how they were killed, then handing them over to police as evidence.

“A lot of them died from bullet wounds – the body, the head, all over,” he said. “Some also died from grenades, shrapnel.”

He refused to reveal how many bodies were in the morgue but said he was told to expect more – though he would not say how many.

It was the largest terrorist attack in Kenya since the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy, and FBI agents were dispatched to do fingerprint, DNA and ballistic analysis on the bodies.