Sujali at 8

By | May 29, 2020

From Mary Kiguru, Creator and Co-ordinator of Sujali and Mike Calvert, ex-York St John University

The impact of Covid-19

The year started with promise. It was going to be a ‘reap’ year and the members were hopeful of new beginnings or the injection of more money to grow their businesses. Then along came Covid-19. This has had a big impact on the women entrepreneurs that go by the name of Sujali.

Nzuve’s canteen

Most of the Sujali businesses are concentrated in a small area of a town, Ruai, on the outskirts of Nairobi. There are restrictions that affect shopkeepers and kiosk owners.  All shops have to have a washing barrel outside their businesses and people have to wash their hands on entering and leaving. Kenyans are taking this as seriously as they can but cannot manage to isolate themselves or reduce the risk of infection beyond a certain point.

Nzuve runs a food canteen in the same street as Grace. As per the new regulations on food vendors, he can only serve four people in the kiosk. Most of the customers order take-away food. In the picture is his wife serving breakfast at the counter. Notice the face mask.  

Mary recently visited Jacinta’s food canteen. Since expansion, she is able to host five people at any one time as per regulations. She, too, has her wash barrel. The family had just opened a second eatery at the informal market – Gikomba. They, however, had to close it down as these businesses have been forced to close down due to Covid-19. Regular readers of this blog will recognise that Jacinta is one of the original group of four and she has seen her business grow including her rearing of cows!

Grace is an entrepreneur whose business spirit is never broken. The road where her food canteen is located was under construction which meant that she had to close her food business due to dust. Grace is someone who does not give up. She saw the opportunity to supply spare parts for motor bikes. She took a loan of KES200,000 to invest in the business. She is also selling bed linen. You may remember that she bought a motor bike and hired a rider.

Kitonga’s shop

Kitonga’s business has been thriving despite Covid-19. Although he recorded a drop in business at the beginning of the year, it has not been as slow as other businesses. He completed his previous loan and took another of KES150,000 (@£1200) to stock up his shop which is full to the brim with merchandise.

Susan’s boutique and Elizabeth’s salon have been most affected by Covid-19 quarantine. As people struggle to ensure that they have food on the table, they are not buying new clothes. The boutique is now focusing on selling plastic shoes as they are in demand due to the heavy rains.

Alice’s chicken farm

Alice’s business has grown. Having children and people at home has raised the demand for eggs and chicken. She expanded with a huge investment (@£4000) and opened her chicken farm in 2019 and it is thriving. She has just taken delivery of her new chicks and has about 3000 of different ages. She now has goats too. Notice the huge water tanks that are needed to provide for the hens.