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The Rise of Car Trunk Entrepreneurs

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Over the past few weeks, I have noticed an interesting trend in many residential neighbourhoods within the larger Nairobi Metropolitan Area. Every afternoon a stream of micro-entrepreneurs emerge with merchandise packed in their car boots.

The merchandise is mostly foodstuff such as vegetables, fruits, cereals, eggs and even chicken. A few of the entrepreneurs stock non- food items such as clothes and kitchen utensils.

On the vehicles’ windows are stickers announcing what is being sold and at what prices.

We need to appreciate the strong will of these Kenyans who have refused to take the easy path of sitting and crying out for government handouts.  

A majority of them are people who just lost their jobs or closed down the businesses they were involved in just before the COVID-19 reared its ugly head. 

Others are just pure hardcore opportunists who have perfected the art of opportunity identification. The pandemic has badly affected transport, education, beauty, tourism, hospitality and entertainment among other economic sectors.

Most of these car boot hawkers are therefore, understandably, formerly engaged in these sectors. These are the entrepreneurs that will save our economy going forward because they are not ready to give up even in the face of grave adversity.  For them when one door closes another opens.

It is in times of crisis that creativity and innovation thrive. Some of the greatest businesses in the world were launched in times of crisis and uncertainty.

From wars to financial turbulence to pandemics, to terrorism attacks, these environments offer baptism by fire for startups and those that make it truly deserve to succeed. 

Like a child, the formative years of a business are very crucial. The enterprises are from the start conditioned to certain traits that set them on the success path.

For example, they acquire a bootstrap mentality where business expenses are double scrutinized to confirm that incurring them is actually a necessity. Frugality and saving habits become entrenched in the culture of these enterprises.

Another positive of such enterprises is the fact that the entrepreneurs behind them learn by doing. They get their hands dirty using trial and error methods until they strike the right chord. Like the famous Edison, these entrepreneurs get to know of a thousand ways of not running a successful venture.

In the meantime, the county governments in these areas seem not to be harassing them, at least not openly. The authorities should not be aloof but go a step further to support these entrepreneurial activities.

Let the counties provide supportive infrastructure such as clean water and soap for handwashing, mobile toilets, garbage collection, and security.

The entrepreneurial spirit of Kenyans seems to be too strong even for COVID-19. For our business schools, these are real and applicable local case studies and areas of further research that should be incorporated in our curricular post-COVID-19.

See Also>>>> Get Rich Quick & The Chameleon: The 3 Types of Kenyan Side Hustles

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DR KEVIN WACHIRAhttp://www.businesstoday.co.ke
Dr. Kevin Wachira is  a Lecturer in the School of Business and Economics at South Eastern Kenya University, Kitui. Email: [email protected]    
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