Small businesses are the heart of the Kenyan economy. They constitute 98% of the businesses in the country, they feed families, they employ 14.9 million people and they provide you with convenience with their little stalls over the country. Small businesses are also the ones that struggle the most during a crisis such as the one we are currently going through. Here’s what you can do to support these small businesses and help them survive so that they can continue to serve you at the other end of this crisis. 

Buy fresh food from your mama mboga or corner shop

Your mama mboga is just down the road and unlikely to be crowded, the complete opposite of a big supermarket. So is your local corner shop if you need bread and milk, and your support for their business will help feed their family. There are also various small farmers that sell their produce online. 

Vendors of the Nairobi Organic Farmers’ Market – Vegetables, baked goods, nut butters

Herdy Fresh – Meat and fish delivery

Freshpro – Fresh produce delivery

Gas ASAP – Gas delivery

Buy online and get your order delivered by boda boda

It’s amazing what you can buy online these days from small local businesses. Anything ranging from locally made peanut butter to shoes made from kitenge scraps, you’d be surprised. It reduces your risk of catching the virus, saves you fuel and time and you support small businesses during hard times while at it! – Get a parcel or a meal delivered – Locally tailored clothes – Locally made cosmetics – Gifts & flowers – Natural locally made body butters – Beard care products

Get your favourite fundis busy

Get your spoilt boots to the cobbler. Ask your fundi to make that jacket you’ve been dreaming of – they can help you take your measurements via a video call on whatsapp. All done via a boda boda, of course. 

Ask your favourite restaurant for delivery or take-away

You get effortless fresh food and the owner gets some income during hard times. This way, they are more likely to survive which means you can still get your favourite food post-coronavirus. Remember to pay by M-Pesa as an extra precaution!

Pay your casual workers

Have you asked your mama nguo to stay home? Can you pay her full salary, or a partial salary if you’re struggling? A little can go a long way, so that they don’t starve until things go back to normal. 

Don’t ask for refunds or reschedule

Bought tickets for an event? Planned a trip? You may be entitled to a refund but if you can afford it, consider helping the business owners out and offer the price of your ticket as a donation. You can also ask for a voucher/gift certificate so that you can take that trip or attend that event when things get back to normal. Of course, this only applies if you’re not struggling to feed yourself. 

Support the arts

Artists and musicians survive on the gig economy. When their gigs are gone, so is next month’s rent. Support them with donations, buy their merchandise, or order work from smaller artists. You can even ask them to create a customized work for you.

Uweza Art Gallery – Art by talented youth in Kibera

Pay in advance

Buying a voucher for future services really just means paying in advance. Your salon might not formally offer gift certificates, but your trusted pedicurist or barber is likely to appreciate you paying for a couple of sessions in advance and redeeming them once it’s safe.

Ask businesses for alternatives

Many small businesses are finding creative ways to continue to serve their customers and keep their companies going. Ask the businesses you normally deal with what options they can offer you before you cancel, in order to support them. 

Your french tutor can teach you french on the phone instead of meeting physically. Your personal trainer can do your workout sessions via video call. Bookstores might offer curbside pickup or deliveries. All you need to do is ask them.

Many businesses already offer alternatives, or will begin to soon as their new reality starts to sink in. If they don’t, let them know what you want and suggest services that you’d be willing to pay for. Your simple idea might be their lifeline. 

Rugano Books – A bookshop focusing on African authors

Subscribe for online classes that you normally visit offline

Fitness classes, yoga, creative writing, singing, playing an instrument… There are so many classes you can take online instead. If a local business offers this option, take it! It’s not just the money that helps, your solidarity helps keep their spirits up.