BALOONING BUYERS

Small traders hopeful as school reopening reinstates huge market

In Summary
  • Schools reopened Monday after a nine months break following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

Mwingi Primary School Grade 4 and Standard 8 pupils. All learners are required to wear masks and wash their hands regularly.
SCHOOL REOPENING: Mwingi Primary School Grade 4 and Standard 8 pupils. All learners are required to wear masks and wash their hands regularly.
Image: LINAH MUSANGI

A few meters from the Jamhuri high school in Nairobi, small-scale traders have been lining up their merchandise for five days now eagerly waiting for buyers.

Despite most traders selling facemasks and hand sanitizers, others are seen selling ice cream, stationery, samosas and doughnuts.

The sellers were back to the school starting Monday after a nine months break following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to Maryann Ndila, an ice cream vendor, the return of learners to school has brought hope to thousands of small scale traders in the country.

“We had lost business after schools were closed indefinitely in March last year, to counter the spread of Covid-19. We lost our sources of income and we are glad business is back,” Ndila said.

Statistics indicate there are about 15 million learners in primary and secondary schools in the country.

According to traders, these students provide a huge market for their products and services.

Besides small traders, large scale traders who reap from schools including booksellers and uniform distributors are glad learners are back.

“The last year was tough for me. I am glad that schools are back because I am now sure of a ready market for my milk," Willis Kimonge, a dairy farmer in Kisii told the Star on phone.

The accountant who doubles as a farmer rears 20 cows of which he milks over 250 liters a day.

For almost a decade, he has been supplying milk to a number of secondary schools in the county.

Having started out with only two cows, the ready market pushed him into widening his farm. The school purchased a liter of milk at Sh 70.

“When Covid-19 hit the country, I sold half of my herd. Dairy cows are expensive to feed when you lack a source of income. There are days that my milk had no market and those were tough days,” he said.

Kimonge is now back to business and hopeful to expand his herd once more.

Maize, vegetables, beans, fruits, poultry and fish farmers are among the many others who are set to benefit from the recent reopening of schools.

Those selling face masks are also reaping big as they have a ready and expanded market in schools.

No student is allowed to enter learning institutions without a facemask, following a state directive. This means that the traders have a ready market.

Currently, a number of traders selling facemasks have pitched tents at the entrance of schools, selling each at Sh 10.

"Masks do not have so much profit but if they move faster, one benefits," said trader Roselyne Amollo.

Bodaboda riders are another happy lot as they ferry a majority of the learners to and from schools.

"Business is back. I pick and drop at least three pupils in a day to and from schools, with each trip costing Sh 50. This is money that I could only dream of when schools were closed," said Edmond Onyoni, a rider in Uthiru, Kiambu.

Ernest Manuyo, a business lecturer at Pioneer Institute in Nairobi, noted that when schools shut down due to Covid-19, a huge chunk of the economy, from transporters to food sellers and the book industry was negatively affected.

"But with learners in school, more jobs are going to be created in these industries, which boosts the economy," he said.