How do most hustlers pick their business names?

Business house at Sigalagala Shopping market along Sigalagala- Butere road. This might be the longest Business name in the Western region. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Can you recognise a hustler’s business from its name? I think you can. The names try to mimic success cases. You will find eateries named Norfolk, Hilton or Serena in very rural places.

You will find businesses named after American States like Oklahoma, Texas, Hawaii, California, and New York among others.

You won’t find New Mexico or Wyoming. These States are less known. American towns are popular too: Dallas, New York, Chicago, and Memphis among others.

These names reflect either the hustler’s aspirations, media attention or diaspora connections. While growing up, we heard of these hotels, as playgrounds of the affluent. We aspired to visit and patronise them.

If we start our small eateries, why not give them such names? It’s in the same spirit that we pick makes of famous men who we are unlikely to ever become.

Some are named after army generals but have never held a gun in their hands.

Some are named after presidents, but can’t win an MCA (Member of the County Assembly) seat!

Even in religion, we pick saintly names but fail to live saintly lives. Check the names of prisoners on death row. We must add such saintly names are becoming rare.

Kids named John, James, and Bartholomew are rare; now replaced by movie, sports and music stars.

Aspirations again. Add mob naming too. Why are so many boys named Liam, Jayden, Brian or Ryan?

We have great men and women from the East but rarely pick their names. Met an indigenous Kenyan called Gandhi? Mao? Xi?  Media and language influence the picking.  Do you watch Chinese TV? Why can’t we be great men to be named after? Diaspora is another source of business names. You are unlikely to find Kenyans in Wyoming or Maine. Kenyans have their domains in the United States (US) or other countries.

Examples are Massachusetts, Minnesota, Kansas, Alabama and Maryland. I am told in some regions; certain local mother tongues dominate. We pick names of States and towns we are familiar with.

The Bible is another source of hustler business names; Goshen, Ebenezer, Jerusalem, Canaan etc. Back to business names.

Without name importation, some hustlers pick names from their locality, Ekalakala groceries, Shamakhokho Hotel, Kangari Nightclub, Narok Boutique.

Others mostly central Kenya connote names like Jacstel for Jackson and Stella, JoyJo for Joyce and Joseph etc. 

Some businesses take authentic names, Onyango Chips, Kamau Transporters, Waunda Salon etc. Business names, just like our Christian names are also regional. Wycliffe is a Western name just as Ephantus is central. 

What we can’t dispute is that the names we give to our businesses reflect our aspirations, dreams and background.  Are you a hustler? How did you pick out your business name? Talk to us.