What’s A Shower Got To Do With Our Why?

Joe Bayen
3 min readJun 8, 2024


Left future NFL Player Willis McGahee, Center Joe Bayen, right future NFL player Daryl Jones

A seemingly random conversation with our CCO, Jeff Anderson, recently unveiled the underlying “why” behind Grow’s mission. That “why” is the source of my boundless energy and the driving force behind our relentless drive to support underserved communities.

At one point, I mentioned to Jeff that I always love taking long showers because showers became a luxury to me as I spent over 5 years, between 1991 and 1997, from age 15 to 20, without any shower in a tiny 5X5 meters room in Paris, called “Chambre de bonne,” a housing that was historically reserved for servants up top of Parisian buildings during Haussman’s renovation between 1853 and 1870.

My room had a small bed, a sink, a small cabinet, a small fridge, and a mini stove, all that for $100/mo; my late mother would send me $200/mo from Cameroon to cover the rent, which was quite a considerable sum for her and the rest was enough to buy food and cook for a month.

The room had no shower, and everyone in the 20 or so units had to share a common restroom. As a result, I was forced to take showers at friends’ houses in rotation. At times, I felt embarrassed because, emotionally, the process felt like I was begging for a shower, a terrible feeling akin to a loss of dignity.

Fortunately, at age 18, I found a passion for track and field, and going to the track stadium became a godsend, as it enabled me to log in 3 showers per week, reducing the reliance on my friend’s shower rotation.

As it turned out, I was fortunately quite a fast runner, finishing 5th at the French junior nationals. This allowed me to receive a full track and field scholarship at the University of Miami, ending my 5-year shower-hopping journey.

End of a training session in Gainesville, Florida

In a serendipitous moment, I told that story to our former CMO Nick Roberts, who shared that he was familiar with “Chambre de Bonne” as he randomly listened to a podcast on that subject months earlier. Accessible here.

As it turned out, the podcast revealed that the practice was banned in 2001 in Paris by requiring landlords to remodel the rooms to be large enough to support more human living conditions for renters.

However, the beauty of that experience is that I learned to be happy with little, and it carries to this day, though I still enjoy long hot showers very much, which remain a true luxury to me.

It is the underlying story that led me to be passionate about supporting underserved communities through Grow Credit, but we are fortunate to have assembled the most incredible team, who also shared a similar passion for being of service and, at times, made incredible sacrifices by logging long hours to support my why, which has become our why.

However, none of it would have happened if it weren’t for the original sacrifice of my late mother, the most generous person you would ever know, who was willing to do anything in her power to help her son strive by benefiting from a European education.

To our amazing team, our investors, and all my friends who open their homes to offer me warm showers. Thank you ❤️