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Online sales rise sharply as pandemic fears mount



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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Visually impaired man with gifted hands sets sights on ‘shoe empire’



They say, disability is not inability. All over the world, there are millions of people who have overcome physical challenges to succeed in life.

Not far from the expansive tea plantations of Kericho, one man has inspired many due to his ability to overcome odds and make the best out of every situation.

Bernard Maina Kipkorir, who lost his eyesight due to meningitis in 2007, is a fighter working his way up the ladder. Perhaps, a millionaire in the making.

Kipkorir, 38, believes in hard work and instead of sitting for hours waiting for alms by the roadside, due to his challenges, he makes shoes and sandals from cow hides.

He’s so good at his job that, without his white cane, you wouldn’t notice his blindness.

Kipkorir’s woes began in February 2007 when he started developing migraines.

When he consulted a doctor at the Kericho District Hospital, all seemed well.

“My head felt as if it was being hammered,” he says.

But after more visits to the doctor, he got admitted to the Kericho Home Nursing Hospital where he spent five months in the intensive care unit, and another two undergoing physiotherapy. It was then that he started losing his eyesight.

“I couldn’t comprehend the goings on in my body, and I even lost the sense of time,”

Kipkorir says. Having lost vision in his left eye, he began adjusting to his new life. However, the condition recurred in October 2008 and he was admitted to the Kisii Level 6 Hospital, from where he was diagnosed with meningitis.

Kipkorir was then transferred to the Kenyatta National Hospital, where he also lost vision in his right eye while receiving treatment.

“After I was discharged, my doctor referred me to the social services and protection office for counselling and help. It’s then that I opted to go back to school to learn how to live again.”

With all resources at home depleted, the officers and his family held a fundraiser to raise his college fees. He finally enrolled at the Machakos Technical Institute for the Blind in 2010.

He studied braille and learnt about independent living skills as a blind person.

New shoe designs

In 2011, he joined the shoe making department and from that year up to 2017, he progressed from Grade III to Grade I.

Kipkorir has a national grade test certificate from the National Industrial Training Authority under the Ministry of Labour. While in college, his met his love, Jackline Langat.

They have two children, Joyline Cheptoo and Jayden Kipchirchir.

“I have many challenges,” Kipkorir says. “The main one is capital to expand my business.

I need Sh120,000 to stabilise.” He also plans to go back to college to learn “the new shoe designs. It will help me boost my sales”.

His wife, Jackline, treasures her husband. “My peers ridiculed me when I married him, but I don’t think my life would have been any different or better.

He is a blessing to us; he works hard and provides for us. We never lack,” she says.


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Coronavirus: Terry Mungai’s statement on Ashleys’ closure



Ashleys Hair and Beauty Academy has shut down indefinitely in a bid to avoid further spread of the deadly coronavirus disease that has, as of Tuesday, March 31, seen 59 people test positive in Kenya.

In a statement issued by the Ashleys Kenya Limited founder and CEO Terry Mungai, the academy will remain closed until the pandemic is contained.

“To our friends and partners, you have walked this journey with us, over the last 24 years, as your number one spot for all your styling and grooming needs. You have cheered us on as we have scaled the heights and we, in turn, have consistently given you the cherished personal and professional services you can only find at Ashleys.

“It is thus, with the utmost difficulty that we have chosen to take the socially-responsible decision to temporarily close down all our branches in order to fully tackle the present challenge of the Corona Virus,” read part of the statement.

She further called for unity and highlighted Kenya’s steadfast spirit as she buttressed precautionary measures to tackle the disease.

“As a nation, we have been shaken before but we have always triumphed through the times of uncertainty. We are confident with God’s help and other this nations leadership, we shall emerge victorious once again. For now, stay safe, stay at home and keep us all in your thoughts and prayers as we shall too.”

Flair By Betty

By shutting down, Ashleys has joined a list of other beauty businesses that have had to close shop due to the pandemic with the most recent being Flair By Betty.

In a statement, the Flair By Betty CEO Betty Kyallo announced the closure of the parlour assuring that her customers and staffs safety came first.

“This special communication comes in the wake of the effects of the novel of coronavirus. It is indeed a difficult time for our beautiful country, continent and the world but we pray and hope for the best in the coming days.

“I believe the health and well being of our clients and staff is supreme and should be jealously guarded. With that in mind, we have decided to suspend operations as per government guidance until we get clearance that business can continue as usual,” read part of the statement.


Singer Wahu on her part, instead of a complete shutdown, resolved to make adjustments.

Announcing the changes in an Instagram post, the AFROSIRI CEO encouraged clients to get lasting hairstyles that will ensure they stay at home for, at least 3 weeks, before having to visit a salon again.

“For this season, we advice all our esteemed @afrosirisalon clients to wear a hairdo that will last at least 3 weeks (21 days), and to wear short neat nails. For the next couple of weeks, we are open on Wednesday- Saturday and shall serve clients on appointment, ensuring that no more than 5 clients are in the salon at any one time.

“We have also stepped up our sterilising procedures, and ensure all clients and staff alike practice regular hand hygiene (washing and sanitizing on entry/re-entry into the salon, washing and sanitizing of hands before the commencement of service and on completion of the same. We are also serving immune-boosting teas to all our clients. Service is by appointment only to ensure that we maintain the 5 client rule,” wrote Wahu.


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How to overcome a season of crisis




A wise man once said that there is a season for everything under the sun – even when we can’t see the sun. Seasons are part of life just like day and night or winter and summer. Seasons of crisis, for instance the current Covid-19 pandemic, come to necessitate change. Crises are not permanent but the question is: How do we overcome such a season of crisis? Here are 7 tips:

1. Seasons guarantee change: A crisis can build brand new markets, remove the old and welcome the new and change the way of doing things. The change could be new innovations, bigger businesses, change of cultures, believes or behaviour change.

2. Crisis gives hope for tomorrow: When it is too dark, light is soon on its way. When you are jobless, you hope for a job soon. When temporary out of cash, you hope for hay days.

3. Nothing remain the same: Seasons come and go. Corona hit China and now China is almost certainly back on track. Seasons are very temporary. For those currently earning a percentage of their salary or no salary at all in different organisations, this is a situation that will not remain the same.

4. A Season of crisis gives incentives to plan for the future: The crisis phase come and go and we must plan for the next phase. The future is more promising than the present.

5. A Crisis Season is Transient: The beauty about it is that days and weeks are moving. Soon, the crisis season will be over. We should not panic too quickly. We need to stand still, think and innovate.

6. Never respond permanently to a temporarily problem: Suicide, for example, is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. We can do better than committing suicide, giving up, or doing something that we might regret soon after the tough days are gone.

7. Keep a positive eye on opportunities brought by a crisis: See the opportunities created during a crisis and seize them if you can. Look at the bigger picture and position yourself approximately.

The author, is a leading Entrepreneur, a Published Author, Philanthropist, Youth Empowerment Enthusiast, a Family man and CEO of Optiven Group.

Contact Optiven Group: 0790 66 77 99 Email: Website: George Wachiuri Blog:

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