Forget the formerly overcrowded red-light districts where escorts paraded themselves for willing street buyers for cheap money. With an increase in the internet penetration in Kenya and Africa in general, street princesses have upgraded into VIP escorts that play by their own rules.
According to statistics, over 43 million Kenyans have access to internet, translating to 85 percent of the entire population. Kenya comes after Nigeria and Egypt, which have 98 million and 49 million users respectively.
Recent data has also revealed that most Kenyans spend their internet betting and watching pornography online, and this has created a new niche for online entrepreneurs. While e-commerce sites have taken a while to pick in the country, ladies of the night have embraced the changing trends and changed their business model through the help of techpreneurs.
Exotic Africa is one of the fastest growing online escort directories, with branches in Kenya (https://www.exotickenya.com/), Uganda (https://www.exoticuganda.com/), Tanzania (https://www.exotictanzania.com/), Rwanda (https://www.exoticrwanda.com), Ghana (https://www.exotic-ghana.com/) and Nigeria (https://www.exoticnigeria.com/).
The CEO of Exotic Africa who goes by the name Tom says this about his line of business: “The adult industry is big. We saw an opportunity and seized it. We are helping them get out of the streets and earn a decent living.”
According to Exotic Kenya escorts, the internet has helped their business because they now feel safer and better. One of the escorts says: “Standing on Koinange streets came with its own risks, such as pneumonia, harassment and low pay. Right now with the internet, I only sit in the house and wait for calls. The only investment I have to make is a good photo, fully charged phone and a great wardrobe.”
Data from Exotic Kenya indicates that every escort receives 3-20 calls daily, with the best negotiators managing to convert at least 2 clients every day. The highest paid escort earns $500-1,000 per client, while the lowest paid earn KES 1,500 per client.
Asked why they chose that line of business, most escorts say that their business involves keeping people company and socializing.
One of those interviewed said: “Escorting is not illegal. We are not prostitutes. I love meeting new people and if I can be paid to go on a date, why not take the opportunity?”
Another says: “I started as a call girl on K1 club but then I would stay in the cold all night long only to go home with KES 300 or nothing. One day as I waited at the door, another lady told me she was leaving for the US courtesy of a client she had met on Exotic Kenya. I signed up immediately on my phone and the next thing I knew was my phone could not stop buzzing.
“Clients call me with offers of up to KES 10,000 per meeting with others even paying via cheque. And I don’t have to sleep with them; most of the highest paying clients just want company and someone to talk to.”
There is a very thin line between prostitution and escorting, one thing Exotic Africa CEO says has confused several agencies in the neighbouring countries. This is because the escorts target the same clients as prostitutes, and as a result have to include these services in their adverts.
“One of my sites has been banned in one of the neighbouring countries. I think the reason is because most of our clients are former street prostitutes and so the authorities think we are promoting an illegal business. But our model is very simple. We get the ladies to the internet where they can operate without incurring a lot of risks,” he says.
Our private investigation has confirmed that most of the ladies have even taken up other day jobs after leaving the streets. Very few engage in sexual intercourse during dates, something they have to thoroughly discuss with the client before meeting.
“I do not have to work extra hard to earn a living. All I need is wake up, shower, look pretty and wait for calls. I have so much free time on me that I’ve decided to enroll for a law degree as I pursue this as my side hustle,” explains a top rated Exotic Kenya escort.
Asked why they pose naked, the escorts cited female musicians and their wardrobe etiquette, saying that their success is tied to what can be seen.
“Beyonce, Rihanna and all the successful female musicians show a leg. Some have even flashed a breast on camera, and that does not make them prostitutes. If you want men to buy, you have to show some flesh,” explained an escort who only specialises in tours.