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Politics aside, hustlers saved our economy in 2020 and 2021

By XN Iraki | Dec 29th 2021 | 2 min read
By XN Iraki | December 29th 2021

SMEs were more resilient than big corporations. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Soldiers win the war but the generals take credit. The hustler won the economic war during the Covid-19 pandemic but our leaders take the credit.

Think of the early days of Covid-19 when the economy was suddenly closed. The small and micro enterprises remained open. This sector even got new converts. Remember the car boots turned into shops? 

The sector kept the economy going providing food and other essentials to citizens. Their sacrifice may never be appreciated. They worked as the other Kenyans were holed in their homes gripped by fear. 

Maybe there are too many SMEs to be recognised or we take them for granted except when seeking their owners votes. Or the textbook has made it appear that doing “dirty work“ is not glamorous. Luckily that is changing as students shift from universities to technical and vocational education and training (TVET) courses.

It’s a tragedy that we ignore the people who matter. Think of it, who should take the high road to entrepreneurship: the A or the D student?

Logic says A students. But who do we entrust with spawning new enterprises? Who do we demand should start new firms of businesses and create jobs? Most new enterprises have no precedents, they are started from scratch. That needs lots of ingenuity and creativity. Does it surprise you that Google or Facebook (Meta) were started at top universities? By the way, why was Facebook not called Meta Meta, it’s a cooler name.

SMEs were more resilient than big corporations as Covid-19 pandemic demonstrated. They survived the downturn and kept the economy running. For once, being “poor" was an asset, a badge of honour. The SMEs are not tied by ideologies and traditions. They are agile and easily change with circumstances.

They create more jobs despite low prestige. Think of it, the government employs about 800,000 civil servants including soldiers, policemen, county government employees, and teachers. The rest of the 53 million Kenyans work in the informal sector, earning an honest living and turning the reluctant wheel of progress.

I hope the owners of SMEs will celebrate their heroism as the year ends in addition to this festive season. Their sacrifice will one day be recognised and rewarded. Keeping the economy running amidst Covid-19 pandemic was no mean feat. Hongera hustlers and let’s make 2022 prosperous and peaceful.

Covid 19 Time Series


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