How Kenyan fashion businesses are coping with COVID-19

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COVID-19 is grossly affecting the fashion industry. There are myriads of shuttered production houses, the distribution chain has been compromised, leaving small business owners without decent revenue streams.

Vic Drabicky, CEO of agency January Digital told Glossy that “the most at-risk brands are newer brands that don’t have the cash flow or credit lines to be able to sustain a complete closure of what could be a couple weeks or more…sadly, we’re going to end up losing some young brands that were showing great promise and some more tenured brands that simply couldn’t adapt to the extreme circumstances.”

Those that do not have cash flow to invest in virtual styling, large scale adoption of new technologies and a radical shit from operating on location to online will most probably not survive.

While other regions like the United States and Europe have activated stimulus packages, the situation is dire in Africa. In Kenya, the government, through its fashion council has mobilized fashion designers, raw material suppliers and other players to ramp up production of face masks locally.

This will serve as a way to help the creative fashion industry survive, while helping in the fight against the pandemic. The key to survival has been adapting to tough times with innovative ways. They are learning from global brands which are leaders in the fashion business. Some companies like LVMH, L’Oreal, Mango, Burberry, Chanel and others are leading the fight against COVID-19.

Thus, they are providing value to customers. As of 3rd April 2020, the Kenyan government had approved mass manufacturing of face masks to help curb the pandemic.

“We shall start producing and distributing face masks across the country. The masks will be made available to the public with the help of chiefs and bodaboda (motorcycle) operators,” Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said.

Business owners are also adapting to the ‘work from home’ directive, only doing deliveries upon request. Companies like Uber, Bolt and Safeboda have come in handy as their riders are helping the businesses run on survival mode.

The worst case scenario would be if the country comes into total lock down, something which has been an ongoing conversation, considering the recent curfew reinforcement has not been 100% effective.

So what do the next few months look like? There is a lot of uncertainity. However, there are ways that small business owners can still operate remotely. Through our sister publication African Vibes, we have compiled a list of amazing stuff that you can do to generate income. From starting a niche blog to a YouTube channel, there are a good number of creative ways you can use to sustain your fashion business.

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