Why More Women, Youth Are Setting Up Enterprises

Women in Business follow proceedings at Absa Bank Kenya PLC event at Mövenpick Nairobi where Sh 10 billion was announced for women led businesses. FILE PHOTO | NMG

October 13, 2020//-Women have by far surpassed men in terms of investment in small businesses during the past seven months, data released by a local firm indicates.

Notify Logistics, which specialises in offering affordable rentals for businesses in Kenya’s major towns analysed data on its platform and found that more women than men remained resilient even as Covid-19 paralysed business operations in every sector.

“Over the past nine months 72.9 percent of all our clients were ladies venturing into business in Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu. Only 27.1 percent were men,” a statement by the company reads.

Boniface Mutunga, an expert in trade and finance, says that women have become more enterprising during the pandemic due to the disruption of jobs.

“But even when we say 1.7 million Kenyans lost jobs during the pandemic, over 70 percent of those jobs were lost by male employees. That is why I believe women, and wives in particular realised that depending on one person in the family is catastrophic. They have moved out of their comfort zones to contribute to the family kitty,” he says.

According to Forbes, women start businesses to accommodate work to their family needs. But the virus has pushed more women into business as family budgets contracted over the past seven months.

While 74 percent of women in the world feel that flexibility is more important than making a lot of money, being your own boss, many women note, generally allows for more freedom than working for someone else.

“When I was retrenched in May, I used my little savings to start a footware business. Though I love selling via online platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, I realised owning a shop gives me a station where customers can come to pick goods,” says Mary Wambui, one of the shop owners on the Notify platform along Moi Avenue, Nairobi.

the report also shows that more young people are setting up businesses, mainly driven by increasing state of joblessness. While starting a business during the crisis has been baptism of fire for many Kenyan business owners, the data further reveals that more youths were ready to risk their resources and invest during the turbulent economic times rather than waiting for the end of the pandemic.

“The average age of investors during the pandemic was 27 years. The youngest is 21 years old while the oldest is 36,” the survey states.

The firm saw a total of 348 shops get 74 new entrepreneurs with each investor owning about five shelves to stock clothing, footwear, electronics, grocery and beauty products. Others are using them to provide services such as mobile money, hair care, electronic repairs and photography.

In August 2020, the firm started Phase 1 and 2 of Buy to rent where they invited business owners and individuals to invest in the shelves. The program was started to help individuals recover from the effects of the pandemic and invest any extra they had to earn more at the end of the 12 months.

The introductory phase -phase 1 saw individuals get a return on investment of 87 percent while Phase 2 which ended on October 7 will see investors earn up to 71percent return on their investment.

Notify Logistics now plans to open a mega store in Nairobi on October 15, in its phase three initiative that will target online small business ventures that have cropped up during a period where directives to control the virus have favoured e-commerce transactions where there is no physical contact between buyers and sellers.

Its Buy-2-Rent programme allows individuals to own a shelf within the Notify shops and earn rent from the shelf. It ensures the shelf is occupied by the time one buys it hence minimizing the risk of lacking a business to rent your shelf.

“We have created a AirBnB business model of earning from commercial space, enabling individuals to invest in a shelf in the Notify platform with zero management,” said the firm’s Chief Executive Waweru Nderitu.

He adds that the purpose of the project is to help people get through the pandemic since many people have lost income streams.

“As a company we thought it wise to have a product that will help households get new revenue streams. We have been completely amazed by the response received so far and have already begun working on a phase 3 of the program that will be launched later this month,” he said.

For Rent-A-Shelf, the firm identifies a shop in a prime location in an urban centre and partitions it into shelves. It then hires shop attendants and gets all the necessary licenses for the shop.

“We don’t charge commissions on sales, we allow the businesses to build a database of their clients as opposed to the current online shops which do not allow sellers to have contact info of their clients,” he explained.

The firm also offers businesses an extensive network of shops in Nairobi, Nakuru, Eldoret and Mombasa as drop-off points for their products.

After that, it opens it and invites online businesses to rent-a-shelf without necessarily owning the whole shop. It targets small businesses that have an online presence, which it gives a physical outlet where their clients can come and interact with products.


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