Kenyan enterprises suffer amid prolonged school closure due to COVID-19

Monday, July 20th, 2020 00:00 |

For the past four years, Caroline Nkatha has worked in a bookshop whose aisles were always thronged by students and parents either selecting a book or skimming through its pages.

But now the bookshop that is located on the eastern fringes of the Kenyan capital, Nairobi stands devoid of customers and precipitates a massive loss due to the termination of the school calendar amid COVID-19 risk.

"The last bulk sale was made in January when schools resumed after the December holiday, we are yet to receive an order surpassing that month. We are worried," Nkatha told Xinhua on Saturday.

Kenyan enterprises dependent on the operations of schools are facing an uncertain future with the unprecedented closure of learning institutions.

Dealers in the production of school uniforms, textbooks and printing of exam papers are desperately trying to survive losses occasioned by the global pandemic.

"My employer has responded to the prevailing circumstance by reducing my salary. His decision is well informed but it has cast a dark spell on my future. I have had to cut back on a lot of expenses," said Nkatha.

She confessed that she had never witnessed such a downturn in business since she started working in the bookstore.

Nkatha said that she had been forced to make adjustments to her lifestyle to bear the negative effects of COVID-19.
Earlier this month the prospects of the revival of these businesses was shattered after the government announced the suspension of this year's academic calendar, following soaring COVID-19 cases and the logistical stress of achieving social distancing in schools.

Nkatha's colleague, Abigail Munyasya has countered her economic tribulations by sending her child to her ancestral village in order to maximize on the meager income she is now getting.

"It has proved to be expensive to sustain both of us with reduced cash flow. It is never easy being separated from your child but I had to do that to ensure continued supply of his basic needs," said Munyasya.

At the moment, the bookshop is trying to subdue the economic pressure it is facing by selling revision books, storybooks and photocopying documents.

The two female employees hope revenues from the sales will sustain them until schools resume in January 2021.
The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) in May predicted at least 75 percent of small and medium-sized enterprises in the country stood the risk of closure by June due to cash flow challenges linked to COVID-19. (Xinhua)

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