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Stalls craze sweeps across Nairobi city

By Winnie Makena | Jan 30th 2020 | 2 min read
By Winnie Makena | January 30th 2020

A quick search on Google about “stalls in Nairobi CBD” yields over 64,000 hits, a testament to the growing popularity of the tiny business premises.

The dying down of the malls’ frenzy has given way to the stalls trend in the city centre.

Walk down Moi Avenue, Tom Mboya Street and the better part of Kenyatta Avenue, and the number of business stalls selling assorted goods, from clothes to perfumes and shoes, is uncountable.

Further away from the city centre as you move toward the various bus termini, there are also countless nail parlours, M-Pesa and mobile phone shops in cubicle-like stalls.

The more upmarket addresses like Kilimani and Upper Hill, just a stone’s throw away, have also not been spared, with landlords struggling with a glut of office space being forced to subdivide their buildings into business stalls. 

Absurd deposits

According to analysts at investment firm Cytonn, the demand for space by small businesses is driving the stalls craze that is now spilling over to the city’s outskirts. 

“There is available modern and high-quality commercial space in other business nodes such as Westlands and Kilimani. The continued improving infrastructure in other business nodes has opened up these areas thus making them attractive for business in addition to the relatively attractive rental rates they offer,” said Joseph Wanga, a research analyst at Cytonn.

Most stalls in the CBD come with a “goodwill fee” in the range of between Sh300,000 and Sh500,000. This said goodwill is just a front; a clever way to ask for absurd deposits.

Most stalls are smaller than a standard bed but fetch between Sh35,000 and Sh40,000 per month in rent. Those in mezzanine or ground floors, however, go for as high as Sh60,000 a month. According to Mr Wanga, this is because they are likely to attract more walk-in customers than those on the upper floors.

Commercial building owners subdividing their spaces into small stalls, he said, confirms that businesses are continuously innovating ways of optimising smaller spaces to improve the bottom line.

“A number of businesses operate online and require smaller spaces which act as pick- up points,” said Wanga.

“Also, to enhance uptake, owners may subdivide spaces to allow for business variety especially in the wake of a rapidly expanding SMEs sector who are the primary tenants.”

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