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Pandemic-friendly industries you can bet your money on

By Peter Theuri | June 2nd 2021

At a time when Covid-19 has run roughshod over jobs and left many on the brink of desperation after ruining sources of income, it has been imperative for people to find alternative investment avenues as they seek financial stability.

Here are some of the most viable options:

1 Agribusiness

From Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, to Zimbabwe’s tycoon Strive Masiyiwa, many African billionaires say that were they to start out now, they would go into agribusiness. It has massive potential.

Nowadays, thanks to internet, farmers can connect with customers on social media. They can also learn from their fellow farmers, and experts, from the same platforms.

Timothy Mburu, a farmer in Naro Moru, advertises his crop on a farmers’ page on Facebook and links up with clients seeking fresh garlic, potatoes and cabbages. He also trains farmers who visit his farm after meeting him on the Facebook platform, Digital Farmers’ Kenya.

Naftal Mocha, who started City Yard Farms on a balcony of a rental house in Sunton Kasarani, has grown it into a formidable business as agribusiness continues to look attractive to youth feeling more and more disenchanted with white-collar jobs, which are also hard to get into.  

2 Gaming hubs

The city’s young populations spend their idle time in so many places, but few beat gaming hubs in popularity. After schools were closed in March last year, students passed time in some of these gaming hubs, and even now with schools open, there is still a dearth of gaming opportunities, showing just how lucrative this business can be.

Timothy Muthengi owns a gaming hub in Kahawa Wendani. To start the business, he bought four play stations, four TV screens, obtained a license and he was set.

“I have a very stable client base,” he says. “It is not a mega business, but it is a good one for medium-earners. I want to go bigger. I intend to get into virtual reality playstations and even start competitions where individuals who feel they are at their peak can compete professionally and make good money playing against each other.”

3 Food industry

People will eat; people must eat, in spite of how badly they are doing in business or elsewhere. Thus, an investor is not likely to go wrong with the food business. That said, you cannot just open a restaurant in these times seeing as the pandemic has bankrupted even the established businesses in the industry.  You have to be a bit more creative.  

“Food is a good bet. Uncooked food that people can buy and prepare at home. This is often cheaper than buying food at eateries,” says Prof X N Iraki, an economist and lecturer at The University of Nairobi.

In the past year, the food and accommodation sectors have faced problems as closure of eateries following a government order ensured that a lot of promising hotels ended up closing doors.

But groceries thrived.

“I know one lady who has been cooking for bachelors at a fee,” Prof Iraki says.

Caroline, a household merchandise trader in Kasarani who opened her job after being fired from a stationery making factory in 2020, says that were she to start now, she would go for a grocery shop. Many who started grocery shops have made good fortunes. 

4 The clothing, beauty and fashion industries

Like food, which people cannot live without, the clothing industry will always attract customers.

“A clothing piece like a t-shirt will never go out of fashion,” says Rasmo Wanyama, who is the Chief Executive of Mavazi Afrique. “For us, demand will always be there. We have to continually develop more creative and unique designs, improve product quality, and price our products competitively.”

The beauty industry has also seen something of an unexpected turnaround, after a slowdown in 2020, with barber shops and beauty parlours opening up in every corner of the city every day.

The beauty and fashion industry will possibly never see its fire dim, what with some industries, such as entertainment industry, expected to perennially usher society into the next age of fashion.

5 Treasury bills and bonds

“Government paper is a sure bet,” says Al Kags, who is the founder of The Open Institute. “But it is a risky project when the government has over-borrowed.”

Treasury bills are a secure, short-term investment, offering subscribers returns after a relatively short commitment of funds. Investors choose the amount they will receive when the bill matures (91, 182 or 364 days), or the face value of the bill, and pay less than that amount when purchasing it.

Treasury bonds are medium to long-term investments, with semi-annual interest payments, with most of them at fixed rates, meaning that the interest rate determined at auction is locked in for the entire life of the bond.

The fact that returns on treasury bills and bonds are assured makes them extremely safe options for investors.

6 E-commerce

One of the things that came to the fore when the pandemic struck was the need to reduce contact between people. Physical shops lost customers, offices sent staff home to work from there.

And so many people started shopping online. “It has been an extraordinary year for us, a year of innovation, customer and employee obsession, brand building, consolidation, pivoting, increase in product offerings and building partnerships,” Ebrima Fatty, the Chief Executive of AfricaSokoni, told The Standard recently.

It has been a year where courier service providers have seen their business thrive. South African courier Sendr, says founder George Sibotshiwe, has grown into a sought-after nationwide courier, just a few years after coming into the market as an ambitious start-up, and now hires hundreds of riders for an ever-soaring number of deliveries.

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