Dating applications, mushrooming clubs, taxi services among other factors have made sponsors very accessible to women.
The access has been investigated by Star reporter Njeri Mbugua who says
The practice, once used by young girls from poor backgrounds to earn a little extra money, has for many become an accepted lifestyle choice.
A 2018 study on the culture among university students in Nairobi found that one in every five girls had a sponsor. The study was conducted by Busara Centre for Behavioural Economics.
Further, over 70 per cent of the respondents said a sponsor should pay for trips, rent, hair and beauty, outings, restaurant meals, food and shopping, dates and gifts.
The Star also learns that digital taxi applications are widely used to facilitate transactional sex.
A driver speaking on condition of anonymity says when men or even women do not want their spouses to know their whereabouts, they opt to take digital taxis.
“To avoid being tracked by their partners or being recognised using their vehicles, a lot of these old men will use us to take them to hotels or lodgings with these girls,” he said.
The driver also reveals that the increase in entertainment joints, especially out of town, also plays a supporting role in such relationships.
“During the weekends, we have very specific clubs along Kiambu Road or Langata Road where you will find most drivers parked because they know business will be good,” he said.
“A lot of young girls will flock these clubs because they know there are rich men waiting.”
Another driver, also speaking on condition of anonymity, says they have found a side hustle.
“Sometimes when we get requests to pick up girls from hotels, we start talking to them about their sponsors. If they are not happy with the amount of money or benefits they receive, we offer to hook them up with richer men in exchange for a small fee,” he said.
While it has become easier to get into the relationships, they are short term in nature, with controlling power belonging to the sponsor.
According to the study by Busara, sponsors know they can end the relationship any time they want.
Pregnancy, infections such as HIV or STIs, violation of secrecy and demands for exclusivity are some of the most common reasons a sponsor may leave.
Additional reporting by Kelvin Alex