Managing your money in Kenya during your gap year

Whilst in Kenya in September, I came across the “Mpesa” way of handling your money.   Piloted in Kenya and in use also in Uganda and Tanzania, the locals open up an Mpesa account and deposit money into it at any one of the shacks in the villages and towns displaying the Mpesa logo.  It’s all done through their mobile phone (a must in Kenya since the landline phones are very unreliable partly due to the Kenyans’ love of making bracelets with telephone wires!)  If you need to pay any bills, take out some cash or transfer money to someone else, then you can do this simply by using your mobile and a password.

Whilst I was climbing Mount Longonot, my guide was trying to transfer a couple of thousand shillings to his mother who was literally waiting at the Mpesa “shack” so she could collect it.  Unfortunately, it was not accepting his password and this was causing Joseph a lot of distress as usually Mpesa worked well for him.

Imagine not having a bank account, bank statements, credit card and just using your mobile phone for all your financial transactions!  How much more simplified!  Obviously if you lose your mobile then you are in a fix but presumably if you know your password this can be got round.

I am told by Kenyan friends that this system will probably get to the UK soon and will be even more sophisticated when it arrives – we will pay for everything with our mobile phone – groceries at the checkout, petrol on the forcourt…  I am pleased that Kenya had led the way with this futuristic way of managing money.  Perhaps it’s something that gap year travellers should consider when volunteering in Kenya especially when they are a long way from a town???

(Volunteer Vacations has vacancies for teaching assistants/sports coaches for a 12 week term  in Kenya – see for more details)



We send gap year students, university students, families, people on Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award and people on career breaks to coach sports, teach and work in orphanages, work in marine conservation, primates conservation, land conservation, looking after rescued jungle animals, animal welfare, women's empowerment programs (sewing/fashions), men's empowerment programs (carpentry, plumbling, electrics, DIY), medical shadowing (doctors, nurses, midwives and dentists), after schools clubs, reaching out to underprivileged children and adults in South Africa, Kenya, Swaziland, Mozambique, Ghana, Ecuador and The Galapagos, Thailand and India. In Swaziland we offer bespoke rugby coaching placements with the charity Skrum where volunteers (18 ) can take their Level 1 rugby coaching certificate and then travel on to other placements and coach rugby. In India, the placements are suitable for families and undeer 18's are accepted providing they are accompanied by an adult. India is also suitable for Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award. We also offer building renovation and reconstruction in India in July. India placements can be from 2 to 12 weeks.
This entry was posted in East African History, Money Management abroad, The Volunteer Experience, Tips & Advice, Travel, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Managing your money in Kenya during your gap year

  1. Monex says:

    The service has now been transitioned to be operationally run by on behalf of the initial 3 markets Kenya Tanzania Afghanistan are hosted by …… .The technology of M-PESA differs between Safaricom of Kenya and Vodacom of Tanzania although the underlying platform is the same.

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