By Marie-Helena Mekolo

I believe in helping people, especially my friends, to achieve their dreams; I like to uplift and empower them. So I don’t understand why, when it comes to patronizing businesses, people are much more comfortable helping a complete stranger over their own family or friends. Quite recently I came across a lot of Instagram posts expressing the same thing. For example, people are willing to spends hundreds of dollars on Beyoncé tickets but want a free haircut/service from their cousin. I couldn’t agree more, even if it is Queen Bee and tickets to her show are worth it.

The question still remains: why are we not elevating and supporting our friends? People we know personally and can actually vouch for. Why is it that we always ask them for free stuff? I don’t have the answer, and I have committed this crime several times, but one thing that helps is to simply be aware of what you’re doing or asking. Many times we take for granted what our family and friends are trying to build. They want to establish a name for themselves in their respective fields. They want us to be proud of them as well as champion their cause. 7 times out of 10 we’ve been there with them during their entrepreneurial journey, offering our time and words of encouragement. So why not put our money where our mouths are and patronize them?

Most people believe intuitively that everyone should get paid for his or her hard work. It’s common sense, but some people expect you to do things for free or as a favor. As far as I’m concerned a favor can’t pay any type of bill, rent or utility. If you can’t give some sort of tangible payment then why request a service?

Please respect and support your close ones by paying for their goods and services, no discounts and no layaway. It will mean a lot more coming from you. Don’t forget to pay your friendship bill!