Kenya’s small businesses see bright times ahead as COVID-19 cases decline

Business In Ghana
Business In Ghana

Joseph Mundia, who runs a construction material store in Kitengela, south of Kenya’s capital Nairobi, has been following COVID-19 updates from the Ministry of Health every day since the disease was first reported in the country in March.

His goal was to keep track of the cases as he knew the success of his business hinged on the trend the disease takes in the east African nation.

The COVID-19 cases have been on an upward trend since March to hit 34,201 on Monday, but for the last two weeks, the number of confirmed infections has been plummeting.

On Monday, 144 people tested positive for the disease, while on Sunday, the country recorded 263 new cases.
The low cases have shone a ray of hope across Kenya, with small business owners like Mundia noting that the declining infections point to better business prospects in coming months.

“The sales have been low and getting some of the imported goods has been equally difficult due to restrictions placed by countries but things are looking better as our cases rise and fall,” he said on Sunday.

His sentiments are shared by thousands of other traders in various sectors across the east African nation, from food vendors to car dealers, school owners, bar owners, secondhand items sellers and shopkeepers, all who are hopeful that as the COVID-19 cases take the downward trend.

Joseph Kung’u, the proprietor of Roka Preparatory School in Kirinyaga, who converted the institution into a farm to survive COVI-19 effects, said he was hopeful that his business would rise again once the spread of the disease is contained.

Grace Mutuku, who runs a grocery shop on the east of Nairobi, said the decline in cases for her means good business since economic activities would fully resume.

“If business resumes fully, that means people would be able to engage normally in various economic activities as it was before the pandemic,” she said, noting her sales were barely 1,500 shillings (13.8 U.S. dollars) daily.

Kenya on Aug. 17 lifted a ban on the importation of secondhand clothes and other items, which brightened prospects for thousands of families that rely on the trade.

The imports had been suspended as a precautionary measure to curb the spread of COVID-19 through imported textiles and shoes, among other items.

Charles Kabiru, chairperson of the traders association at Gikomba market, Kenya’s largest secondhand items outlet, noted recently that the ban had affected hundreds of traders as over 100 wholesalers closed shops.

In a survey in July by global consulting firms Wylde International and Amethyst, 54 percent of small businesses in Kenya, said they faced a bleak future if the disease is not contained.

Ernest Manuyo, a lecturer at Pioneer Institute in Nairobi, said that the flattening of the curve means that the country resumes normal activities, which portend increased trade and business creating jobs and more income for people.

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