The informal sector thrives in Kenyan rural and urban centres. According to 2015 estimates there were 11.8 million people employed in the informal economy, against 2.4 million working in the formal sector. By 2018 the informal sector accounted for 83.6% of total employment.
Like any other businesses, informal sector business will end up with a reduction in customers because of the pandemic. The government is forced to implement quarantines and stay-at-home orders which will have negative consequences for spending in shopping malls, markets and restaurants.
For instance, customers will avoid crowded markets like Gikomba, Kariakoor and Wakulima – the biggest informal markets in Nairobi. The demand for their goods will decline and stocked goods may go to waste. Those making school boxes, suitcases that children use for school, or school uniforms may be affected by the closure of schools.
Those with children will be affected by school closure because there will be nobody to supervise their children at home. Young market women usually take their children to informal daycare centres. If these close due to the pandemic, it means they cannot go to the market every day. Those who take their children with them to their workplaces may now be too concerned for their children’s safety.