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Online sales rise sharply as pandemic fears mount

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As the economic shock waves of the coronavirus scare hit the markets, online commerce is thriving as people avoid moving out of their houses.

Since the first case of Covid-19 was reported in Kenya, e-commerce platforms have witnessed an upsurge in the number of customers logging in to shop for items, as more companies now allow employees to work from home.

Consumer behaviour in Kenya has also changed, as demand shifts to goods that can help contain the virus such as foodstuffs, sanitisers and cleaning agents.

Chief executive of popular e-commerce platform Jumia Kenya Sam Chappatte said although most people are buying daily-use products such as flour, rice, sugar and oil, they are conscious enough not to forget sanitisers to their shopping carts.

“We have seen a shift in sales in the past one week. Customer consumption behaviour has changed.

Apart from food stuffs, we are recording high sales in hand sanitisers, masks and household cleaning products,” he told MarketPlace.

He reveals that Kenyans have now stopped thinking about luxury items, as their search has drastically reduced on the platform.

“We are not seeing many people buying electronics,” he said.

This suggests that people are thinking about their own lives more than ever, and only basic needs matter to them during this period.

Priscilla Muhiu, head of marketing and growth, Africa at on-demand courier service Glovo, said the number of new users signing up to use the app has been soaring.

“Groceries and pharmacy orders have increased by 30 percent.

The increase has been greater in goods such as food and household items.

“On certain items such as hand sanitisers, limits on the quantity a buyer can get have been put in place to ensure goods don’t run out,” she said.

Even the brick-and-mortar business models seen in Kenya’s chain stores are now changing to adapt to the new market demands.

Tusker Mattresses, the operator of Tuskys supermarkets, has since March 12 gone on a massive activation of its e-commerce services to cater for its huge base of customers who now avoid physical shopping due to the government directive on social distancing.

Perfecting its home delivery services at selected Tuskys branches in Nairobi, the firm has now expanded the solution to nine branches in response to the growing customer demand.

Group CEO Dan Githua, told MarketPlace the solution, which was initially delivered at T-Mall, Embakasi, Westlands and Athi River branches, will now be available at five more branches.

“The new branches providing home deliveries in their localities now include Karasha (Kenyatta Avenue), Greenspan, Milele, Ongata 1 and Thigiri with several more expected to be added,” he said.

Orders placed on the WhatsApp and SMS options offered by the retailer, Mr Githua said, had increased by more than 200 percent and basket value had also more than doubled to stand at an average rate of Sh6,200 per day, per buyer.

With the service expansion, Sendy, the online logistics solution provider for Tuskys, has also more than doubled its motorbike delivery workforce with more than 300 riders now dedicated to supporting the online retail programme.

“At Tuskys, we are sparing no effort to provide practical interventions as part of our commitment to ease the social challenges arising from the Covid-19 threat,” Mr Githua said.

He added that “extraordinary times have called for extraordinary responses” and the use of new options such as the WhatsApp platform are expected to cater for thousands of Kenyans working from home.

Jumia, on its part, is accelerating the contactless mode of business, having trained its delivery agents to keep a distance when delivering home goods.

“The traffic on the Jumia website is huge right now as people search for essential items. We have taken stringent measures to regulate prices and discourage product hoarding,” said Mr Chappatte, adding that the website supports between 4 and 5 million users monthly.

He admitted to products running out of stock, but expressed the company’s commitment to working with suppliers in restocking.

“We have removed all cash payments on delivery to avoid spreading the virus using bank notes. We have bought our delivery agents protective gear and trained them on hygiene and contactless delivery,” he said.

But despite the apparent boom, uncertainty lingers on the extent to which the pandemic will ravage businesses. Mr Githua announced on Friday to take a 20 percent pay cut for six months as a cost-cutting measure.

The business community, he noted, is facing lean times occasioned by business unpredictability which will require internal cost management considerations.

“Conscious of the times ahead, we have suspended all non-business critical expenditure even as we look forward to interventions placed by the government to cushion the business community. I urge all of us to cut all unnecessary expenses,” Mr Githua explained.

Global e-commerce behemoth Amazon has temporarily suspended fulfilment of non-essential items through its Fulfilment by Amazon service for third-party sellers through April 5 due to high coronavirus- related demand for medical supplies and essentials, the company said.

“We are seeing increased online shopping and as a result some products such as household staples and medical supplies are out of stock,” Amazon said in a Seller Central post.

“With this in mind, we are temporarily prioritising household staples, medical supplies and other high-demand products coming into our fulfilment centres so that we can more quickly receive, restock, and ship these products to customers.”

By Business Daily


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Business

KQ resumes direct flights to New York

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The national carrier Kenya Airways (KQ) resumed its direct flights between Nairobi and New York on Sunday.

In a tweet, KQ announced the move and topped it up with an offer to passengers who book their flights before December 10 that they will enjoy discounted prices.

Welcome back to the Big Apple! Today we resume our service between Nairobi and New York, and we can’t wait to welcome you on board. Book your ticket via https://t.co/hitS3Whxtp before December 10th to enjoy discounted rates ✈️🌎 *Disclaimer – video from our pre-COVID archives pic.twitter.com/1kET4h0kRK

— Kenya Airways (@KenyaAirways) November 29, 2020

“Welcome back to the Big Apple! Today we resume our service between Nairobi and New York, and we can’t wait to welcome you on board,” the airline said.

The national carrier last operated the passenger flights using the Nairobi-New York route in April after disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

KQ resumed international flights in August after suspending all its operations in March following the government’s directives after the firsts case of Covid-19 was confirmed in Kenya.

On Saturday, October 31, KQ announced that it had postponed New York flights’ resumption.

Through a notice, the airline said the decision to postpone the flights was informed by the increased cancellation of flight bookings to New York.

“We regret to announce that due to increased cancellations of flight bookings to New York City, we have pushed back the resumption of our service to this destination to November 29. We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused,” read the statement then.

Kenya Airways inaugurated direct flights to the US in October 2018, cutting the journey to the US by 15 hours and by October 2019 KQ had flown at least 105,084 passengers after completing 594 flights to and from New York.

by NN


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Bodaboda chama grows into a multi-million shilling housing cooperative

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A journey of a thousand many miles starts with a single step. A Nakuru-based bodaboda operator’s self-help group proved this in its growth. Driven by the ambition to have something to take home once they couldn’t ride any more, ten bodaboda operators from Barut, Nakuru West in 2015 formed Kianjahi Group, pooling a minimum savings of Sh100 per week per person.

“Being a bodaboda operator is a risky job and has serious effect on one’s health especially if you don’t dress properly for the cold. After attending a seminar in Machakos we decided to start making savings,” said Benson Sigei, the group chairperson.

The group grew as more members joined in 2016. After evaluating their progress, the members increased their weekly savings to Sh200 and eventually to Sh1,000.

“Before the year ended we were nearly 100 members. Our savings were growing and we had to come up with plans which some members considered as too ambitious and pulled out,” says Sigei. With savings of nearly Sh2 million, they bought a 1.6-acre piece of land which was previously a sand quarry.

“It cost us Sh2.1 million in buying the land and rehabilitating it to usable standards. We embarked on making savings for constructing houses which would be of similar design,” he said.

To make this possible they converted the group into Kianjahi Housing Cooperative Society Limited and introduced Sh15,100 registration fee and minimum share capital of Sh60,000 payable in Sh500 weekly instalments.

AmpThe group started the construction of two-bedroom houses in a gated community model.

“Every member now contributes a minimum of Sh1,500 for savings every week. Those yet to clear their share capital make an additional payment of Sh500. This amount does not exert great pressure on the riders since the majority make nearly KShs1,000 per day.

The group then started the construction of two-bedroom houses in a gated community model where four houses sit on every 50 by 100 feet plot. The cooperative completed the construction of the first 50 units majority of which have already been occupied.

“We took a Sh15 million loan and in addition to our savings we bought an additional acre of land at Sh2.1 million. In the first phase, we have constructed 52 housing units. 35 members have already moved in,” said the vice-chairman.

The cooperative has bought a third parcel of land on which they intend to set up houses for all members. Members who moved in during the first phase like pay Sh2,000 per month. Sh200 goes to savings and Sh1,800 going towards offsetting the cost of construction. The payment for the houses is spread over seven years.

by Standardmedia.co.ke


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Business

Enough is Enough: Kenyan man in US relocates to motherland to become a farmer

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In a bold move and which took great courage, a former Kenyan Diaspora man Kunga Kihokia who was born and raised in Miami Florida has moved back to Kenya, bought a 20 acres piece of land and established an organic farm in Murang’a.

Initially, Kunga had planned to be in Kenya for three weeks 5 years ago but after what he says was the realization of the problems affecting Kenyans because of western lifestyle which he himself was struggling with, he felt strongly to start an organic farm to address those problems.

Kunga has built a water tower to use gravity that allows the water to get pumped and distributed  through  irrigation into the field. Everything in the farm is powered by solar energy and he has dug a borehole that supplies enough water for the farm. Watch the video, be inspired  and enjoy.

Source: Diasporamessenger.com


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