Businesses that flourished despite the pandemic - Beaking Kenya News

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Friday, 1 January 2021

Businesses that flourished despite the pandemic


Overall, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on Kenya's economy.

Many businesses, especially Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) , received a hard blow.

These independent firms according to the Kenya National Beaaraeu of Statistics (KNBS) 2019 survey contribute 33 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product. They are a main jobs driver in the country. 

Following confirmation of Kenya's first Covid case in March, the government closed all restaurants, bars and hotels nationwide along with other non-essential stores.

As the country began to feel the devastating impact of the coronavirus, massive job cuts erupted as firms turned to austerity measures to deal with revenue shortfalls.

The latest Kenya National Bureau of Statistics report shows that the rate of joblessness doubled between April and June to 10.4 per cent from 5.2 per cent in the same period last year.

Hundreds of employees with Export Processing Zone firms were sent packing due to lack of raw materials and inability to export.

Hotels, clubs and the tourism sector were also hit hard when the government moved to enforce social distancing that literally grounded nearly all socio-political and economic activities.

Big hotels were not spared as hotels such as Serena Hotels sent staff on unpaid leave in June. Others such as PrideInn Paradise Beach Resort and Spa and Utalii hotels were forced to temporarily suspended operations until further notice.

The Fairmont Norfolk closed indefinitely due to inability of the company to sustain its business.

Meanwhile, some businesses were able to survive the storm better than others. Here is a brief look at these businesses.

Liquor Stores

Kimani Njogu is a Wines and Spirits attendant in South B in Nairobi and according to him, he made the most sales during lockdown than he did most of 2019.

"I had to be fast in restocking because people were eally buying in bulk," Njogu told the Star.

The term Kagwe special gained its popularity during the pandemic as it was the term crafty Kenyans were ordering after the government said eateries will be allowed to offer customers only two drinks when they order for food.

Kenyans took advantage of this to eat a sausage and two alcoholic drinks. They did this as they went to different eateries.

The things Kenyans do for a bottle.

Health CS Mutahi Kagwe during the daily Covid-19 briefing at Afya House on May 21, 2020.
Health CS Mutahi Kagwe during the daily Covid-19 briefing at Afya House on May 21, 2020.

House parties were also common during the Covid-10 period which aided the spike in alcohol consumption.

Revelers saw an opportunity to consume alcohol in the company of friends while bars and clubs remained closed.

Also, the rise in liquor sales can also be attributed to the fact that most Kenyans were locked in their houses with fear and stress or losing employment.


With a lot of time spent at home, many Kenyans turned to digital media for entertainment. 

Online subscription video on demand service, Showmax must have gained a massive subscription in the nine months of the pandemic in Kenya.

According to an article by Forbes, Netflix, added nearly 16 million new subscribers during the first quarter of 2020, and its growth numbers more than doubled what the company predicted January. 

According to the article, this was the biggest three-month gain in the 13-year history of Netflix's streaming service.

Online business

Online retailers have fared well during the pandemic.

More and more people preferred buying things online over the conventional method of going into stores. 

It gained massive traction thanks to increased internet usage from the extended time spent indoors.

Laikipias e-ecomerce platofrm for home delivery for food and medicine.
E-COMMERCE: Laikipias e-ecomerce platofrm for home delivery for food and medicine.

E-commerce businesses that did averagely well during the pandemic include the e-Commerce Delivery and Logistics such as Glovo and Safe Boda, Online Fashion Stores, Health and Beauty online retails among others.

Glovo, reported a high increase in deliveries and cashless payments on its platform since the onset of Covid-19 in Kenya.

The Barcelona-based startup applied a raft of protective and precautionary measures to its delivery operations at the beginning of the pandemic as the company prioritised the safety of its customer, couriers and partners.

During this period, Glovo saw cashless payments made by bank card increase by 50 per cent and mobile payments by 14 per cent in Kenya.

Hand-Sanitizing Products

Personally, I've seen so many hand sanitizer company's in mall stores in seven months than I've seen in years.

Not to say that those didn't sell because  people were sweeping them off those shelves like hot cake.

The demand for hand sanitizers shot up since the first day Kenya reported it’s index case of the coronavirus.

From Pharmacies to Supermarkets, people lined up to get their hands on litres of alcohol based hand sanitizers.

This was one of the World Health Organization (WHO)'s recommended way to contain the virus from spreading.

Online pharmacy, My Dawa, told the Star there was a sharp increase in online daily purchases of face masks and sanitisers within hours of the the confirmation of a Covid-19 patient.

According to an article by Forbes, the hand-sanitizing billboards, which have been popularized, are totally functional and beneficial for everyone involved: the retailer, the advertiser, and the consumer who benefits from using the wipes.


Apart from hygiene products such as detergents and hand sanitizers, Kenyans ran to supermarkets to stock up on their house supplies due the lockdown.

The onset of the pandemic in the country left Supermarkets in circus as people pushed and scrambled for tissue paper on shelves.

Supermarkets that were quick enough to move to digital services were lucky as most people preferred making doorstep delivery order.

Naivas Supermarket was the first to make adjustment to fit the unprecedented crisis.

The retailer on March 21 announced its partnership with technology logistics firm Glovo to reduce the price of home deliveries for shoppers to encourage staying home.

This was for online purchases valued at Sh1,000 and above.

The move was in compliance with the government directive to limit public gatherings and crowding in stores as part of measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

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