Friendship isn’t easy. We’ve all been in situations where we needed someone by our side but found ourselves alone. Maybe you want to start gyming but all your friends are too busy to join you. Maybe you’re like me and travel solo but are too paranoid to venture out on your own at night.

Who says money can’t buy friendship? Three smart Singaporeans have started a company, Pally Asia which provides friends for hire. Through Pally Asia, people can rent “fake” groomsmen, bridesmaids and sports buddies. Customers can also rent friends, or pallies as the company calls them, to take them for a night out in town and even to meet their parents. Different types of pallies come with different prices from $15 for a 15-minute phone call to $1,000 for 12 hours (and a speech) with a groomsman or bridesmaid.

Japan is thought to have been the first to start companies offering this kind of service. Now, such companies are found in countries across Asia and in the U.S. I need them to come to Africa. What’s more, with the help of my friends, I’ve thought of ways a friend-for-hire service could work for us.

naomi_jourdan gifShopping for you

Imagine you can conveniently hire out friends to go to the market for you. A busy career woman still needs to eat and if you’re keen on local dishes most of the ingredients and spices you need to cook can only be found in the open air market. Through this imaginary company, you can hire a friend who you can trust will get things at the market for you at the real price (the friend has to know how to bargain very well).

Moving on, there are some women who don’t trust their sense of fashion, but also don’t have the time/money to get a personal stylist. In this case, why not hire a friend to go shopping with you? She will be the fashionista with a keen eye for things that suit your looks and figure.

Dodging marriage

Some of us are at that age where uncles and aunties remind us that we’re “ripe” for marriage. This doesn’t mean all of us are ready to walk down the aisle. As an African girl, you don’t want to hire a friend to go on dates with you or pretend to be your boyfriend in front of your family. First of all, we haven’t reached that level. Secondly, that can easily veer into a sugar mommy situation and nobody has time for time.

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But, what about getting a  friend who you hang out with once every four months or so for lunch? This is the friend that can be used as diversion when your parents come calling about marriage.

“Ah, but mum, Joe and I are just friends jo, if it happens, it happens.”

When Joe is a constant, the marriage-mongers will ease off. This way, hiring out a fair-weather guy friend can be useful.

Organise my life

Sometimes, you just need someone to organise your domestic stuff. It can be finding help to wash clothes, if you don’t have the space or can’t afford a washing machine. Or it can be getting someone to clean your house if you’re too busy or just hate cleaning. I’ve heard friends and family attest to the difficulty of finding great people to help organise their household. This African friendship company will be the go-to for such services.

The company will also have a guy. Everyone has a guy and everyone needs a guy.

My car broke down, there’s a guy.

My DStv isn’t working, there’s a guy.

My sink broke, there’s a guy.

I need to navigate the complicated bureaucracy of the system, there’s a guy.

A lot of people find themselves stranded when they need help and then have to make several calls to get things done. Imagine if you only had to make one call? An African friend-for-hire company should be that guy that has guys.

Information is key

Living in any city in Nigeria (and I’m tempted to say in Africa) as a girl is a constant trade of information. You’re only as good as your personal network.

“I want to do braids, where do I go?”

“I need a natural hair place, which one is the best?”

The African friendship company will have at least one reliable person for each issue. It will combine several networks into a master-one. Whether you need a Mr. Solomon that will be the one calling you to hurry you up for work, even though you’re the one paying for the taxi ride. Or letting you know about the lady who is the best loctician in town and only uses honey and shea butter to loc hair.

Take me out!

This one needs no explanation.

I want to know the best place to eat out, new places to eat out and shops that sell great stuff at bargain prices but I don’t know where to start. I’m in the mood for some buka food and want to go to the best buka in my area. I heard there is a new club opening in town but don’t have anyone to go with. A close friend was recently in India and hired a friend to take her to hidden food spots in Delhi. I personally want a food tour of Accra, Nairobi, Luanda, Addis Ababa…

This friendship company will not only have the answers to all these questions ready, they will also provide a friend to take you there and make sure you have a good time.

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Hiring a “friend” through a company is definitely more reliable that doing so through one person. Like Pally Asia, our African friend-for-hire company may want to screen the people whose services are hired out. It’s also necessary to have no-go areas like kissing, sexual services, taking photos of people hired, flights abroad, etc.

Will selling friendship work for African? Is there already a friend-for-hire service thriving in an African country that I should know about?

What kind of “friendly” service are you willing to pay for? Some say this sort of business makes a profit off lonely people, do you agree? I’d love to know what you think!

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