• Massage parlours, daycare, barbershops and restaurants out of business due to social distance calls
• Small business owners not sure if they will bounce back after the pandemic
Rose Anyango’s house in Buruburu has a large colourful living room with nothing but a reading table near the window.
Long converted into a daycare, there are no babies and none of their bubbly sounds can be heard. The wall hangings and reading charts are the only signs of what it used to be two months ago.
“We are closed. There is no parent bringing their child up here to be looked after because most of them are staying at home to avoid contracting the coronavirus,” Anyango tells the Star.
Anyango has been running the daycare business for over eight years now and said she had gained the community's trust.
After retiring as a teacher, the 66-year-old has been working full time at her home which she said, meant more to her than the money she earned from it. It kept her day busy and cheerful, she says.
“Leaving your child with a stranger is one of the toughest decisions working parents have to make but I, having been in business for years, I would be entrusted with at least 20 children per day. I have four employees and I also work here full-time,” she explains.
Towards the end of March, the mother of three says, she had to close for lack of business. However, since she lives in the same house, she decided to use the room as her study.
“It all happened so fast, we were full one day and the next, this room was dead silent. Two children came then none, and it has been so ever since,” she says.
Anyango hopes things will return to normal after the pandemic but like everyone else, she is uncertain how long that will take.
Although many businesses had slowed before official closures, curfew and movement restrictions were the final blows.
Most small businesses’ immediate concerns were loss of customers and revenue and the need for immediate assistance for rent, payroll and other basic expenses.
Klein Chuma aka Dj Klein Knoxx, who runs Epic’s events and a barbershop in Mwiki, said they are only running free online shows to keep their audience entertained.
“Epic organises and provides entertainment for all kinds of events, but with the virus, there are no events, no parties, no clubs, we are out of work,” he says.
“Our last gig was a wedding on March 7, since then our entire team has been home, surviving. Between March and May, I have had 10 weddings and five corporate events cancelled,” he adds.
His barbershop, he says, remains open even though there are barely any customers. Employees are on half salary.
“A haircut is the last thing you need when you have bills to pay and food to buy. People don’t have to go to the office, they don’t have to go to school; they have more needs than to look good,” Klein explains.
Susan Moraa, a freelance masseuse in the city, says she has had no work from early March and has opened a grocery store to support her family.
“There was just no reason to go to work because I cannot massage you if I cannot touch you. Nobody wants to shake hands; how would they allow you to touch their bodies?” she asks.
Moraa also provided home beauty care services such as manicure and pedicure and facial treatment which have all suffered.
“It is worrying to imagine what the future will look like, how long it will take for people to allow you to touch their face, body or even hands. Despite enhancing our hygiene levels and sanitising everywhere, people are just scared of taking the risk if they can avoid it,” she says.
Many restaurants in Kasarani not equipped for delivery services had to close after the government allowed restaurants to operate for takeout only.
Mathews Mutai, who has put up his restaurant in Seasons area, said he was sure there was no way he could bounce back after the pandemic.
“I have suffered for two weeks and exhausted all my savings. I had delivery but many people were reaching out to the big restaurants for delivery that we eventually closed. Now we shall never reopen,” Mutai said.
Edited by R.Wamochie