Fatuma Bashir's Story: A small business affected by COVID-19 but still focused on business development

In July- August 2020, an assessment was conducted on the impact of COVID-19 on labour markets in Garissa County. The story of Fatuma below illustrates how small businesses have been impacted by the pandemic, and provides critical information on key areas that the ILO will use to provide appropriate interventions to support enterprises to recover and grow.

News | 30 September 2020
Contact(s): njuki@ilo.org
I am a 25-year-old entrepreneur. I run an eatery alongside a retail shop on the outskirts of the refugee camps in Dadaab. I don’t have any of the business certificates delivered by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), but I have a county operation licence, which is renewable annually.

Before the COVID-19 outbreak, I employed three full-time assistants. During peaks of activity, I could hire at least two more extra casual workers. My customers to the eatery and the retail shop were transit traders, suppliers to the refugee camps, truck and mini-truck drivers, job and contract seekers, construction workers, and so forth. The pre-emptive measures taken, including the closure of all learning institutions, banning public gatherings, encouraging workers to work remotely, emphasizing physical distancing, imposing a night curfew, and insisting on cleanliness and hygiene, resulted in fewer clients coming to my business, and consequently the cost of keeping the business open went up. I can host only seven people in the eatery, compared with more than 20 clients before. I have had to install a sanitization unit, which is an enormous expense when there is no income. At the time when supplies from Nairobi decreased, my business operations were badly affected, especially the retailing part. I had to lay off all the staff except for one assistant. The landlord accepted to restructure the rent repayment model because of the lack of business.
Fatuma in her shop ©ILO
To recover, I need financial support to restock and bring back the staff who are at home. I also see a value in being a formal business, which will make it easier for me to access loans. If the International Labour Organization is working in the area, I will certainly take part in their training to gain skills to operate better and improve my business plans.