Covid-19 has affected many, not sparing those in formal employment and business since it ravaged the world
In 2020, many businesses were shut down in most countries after several governments declared lockdowns and for Kenyan businessman Joe Gichanga, all hasn’t been well.
Talking exclusively to Mpasho.co.ke, Gichanga, who runs a restaurant, Munch Den Chicken Grill located along Karandini Road in Nairobi, revealed that Covid-19 pandemic really affected him.
‘IT HAS REALLY NOT BEEN BUSINESS AS USUAL. WE INITIALLY HAD TO CLOSE DOWN, AND AT THE TIME I REMEMBER WE HAD A STOCK OF 86 FRESH CHICKEN IN OUR FREEZER. WE HAD TO CALL UP FRIENDS TO BUY THE STOCK SINCE WE DIDN’T KNOW FOR HOW LONG THE CLOSURE WOULD LAST,’ HE SAID.
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‘…MY WIFE (LYNN NJERI) AND I HIT THE ROAD AND STARTED FRESH MEAT DELIVERIES WITHIN NAIROBI AND DURING THE LOCKDOWN PERIOD, FRESH MEAT DELIVERY DID PUT FOOD ON OUR TABLE,’ HE NARRATED.
The couple faced more obstacles after the lockdown was lifted and during the interview, he said,
‘…WALK-IN BUSINESS WAS HARD DUE TO DISRUPTED WALK-IN FLOW WITH MOST CUSTOMERS WORKING FROM HOME. IT GOT TO A POINT WHERE WE HAD TO CLOSE DOWN TWICE. WE LAID OFF OUR TEAM OF EIGHT EMPLOYEES. WE HAVE JUST REHIRED FOUR AS THE BUSINESS GRADUALLY STABILIZES,’ HE EXPLAINED.
‘WHEN WE REOPENED AGAIN IN OCTOBER, WE HAD TO INCORPORATE PORK INTO OUR MENU AND THAT HAS BEEN THE SILVER LINING FOR OUR BUSINESS. BUSINESS HAD BEEN GOOD BUT OUR BIGGEST HANDICAP HAS BEEN WORKING CAPITAL.’
At some point things got tough and the young family man considered quitting entrepreneurship and joining employment during the pandemic.
‘I’VE NEVER WRITTEN A CV BUT I HONESTLY TOYED WITH THAT IDEA, HAHAHA. I HAD AN EMPLOYEE WITH A TWO-MONTH-OLD BABY WHEN CORONA HIT IN MARCH,’ HE SAID.
With the new norm of safety precautions, such as wearing face masks, gloves and using hand sanitisers especially those in food business, Gichanga is forced to spend more than he makes in a day.
Just like many who were affected by the pandemic, it got to a point he was unable to pay rent but thank God, his landlord was understanding.
‘WE HAD TO HAVE A SIT DOWN WITH THE LANDLORD WHO WAS KIND ENOUGH TO GIVE US A 3-MONTH WAIVER AND AGAIN REDUCED OUR RENT BY 65% UP UNTIL NOVEMBER WHEN IT WAS REINSTATED.
The hospitality industry has been greatly affected and for Gichaga, the limited time leaves many business owners with so much loses than profits. He hopes the curfew is lifted soon and his message to the government on small business owners is,
‘EASY UP ACCESS TO WORKING CAPITAL LOANS. WE ARE OPERATING IN A SEGMENT WHERE MOST PLAYERS HAVE YEARS OF EXPERIENCE AND THE FINANCIAL CHEST TO SUPPORT THEIRS. WE ARE DISRUPTING THAT WITH NEW CONCEPTS LIKE OUR FARM TO FORK MODEL, HOME DELIVERY SERVICES, ONLINE MARKETING ETC. WE HAVE SO MUCH ROOM FOR GROWTH WHICH IS HANDICAPPED BY POOR CASH FLOWS.’