BY STEPHEN O’MARANGA
As covid19 pandemic ravages countries globally, Kenya is not spared especially now that cases of infections are spiking.
For several months now, small businesses have been hard hit.
A slowdown or total shutdown of small businesses in rural counties among other economic activities was conspicuous.
Lack of financial resources also contributed to aggravating the already fragile economic situation.
Dr Ben Oonge, a psychiatrist, says reviving small businesses outside the coronavirus period needs strategy.
He said Kenya was lucky with the national government’s interventions as the pandemic raged.
The national government came up with measures meant to start and cushion the ailing small and medium enterprises through an economic stimulus package.
It further availed a credit guarantee programme that could see selected local banks lend small scale investors at affordable interest rates for wealth creation.
The government further followed the prescriptions by slowly reopening up the economy but with measured caution.
Singling out Kisii county, the psychiatrist however, warned that the economic blue print could be short term and not a panacea.
According to him, Gusii region and some parts of Nyanza depended on an agri-based economy that had been severely battered by the lock-down to curb spread of the virus.
People had been kept out of work, production stopped and the entire value chain collapsed; yet the government was expected to continue supporting them.
Provision of economic stimulus funds, soft credits and reopening of the economy could trigger mass production of goods and services without corresponding consumers.
The Glory Mental and Health services provider advised for creation of a conducive environment in terms of restrictions and taxation by the government for small businesses to thrive.
More investment should be directed to revamping the health sector with a view to mitigating if not eliminating the pandemic to pave way for the people’s full participation in fixing their economy, he said.
Even as people went about engaging in wealth creation, back in their minds they should be concerned with taking care of themselves against covid19 infections.
The government should instill transparency in noble causes such as employment of the youth in grassroot hygiene programme.
He urged the government to consider subsidising payment of salaries to teachers in private schools.
For any region to survive, adherence to sound economic protocols was imperative, added Oonge.
He is former Benways Bus services provider.
The buses offered transport from former Western Province to Nairobi and back in the mid 90s.
Dr Oonge recommended more focus on registered groups whose members will be financially empowered to spare the economy through production of bulk goods such as bricks.
The bricks whose prices will be modest due to mass production, could be sold to government projects.
The same should apply to women groups producing local vegetables and selling them through value addition.
Dr Oonge has command on the ground having initiated several completed and on going projects.
He said provision of the requisite infrastructure by the government will lead to creation of goods,services and more job opportunities to match the increasing demand in the market.
Harnessing of training institutes in terms of skills, machinery and production will be an invaluable input as the country strives to attain a middle level industrialization status come 2030