Kampala City Traders Association (KACITA) has expressed fear that
as many as 54% of the small scale businesses that operated in Kampala and
surrounding areas may close due to the impact caused by the coronavirus
Hope Katwiine, the vice-chairperson of KACITA, an umbrella organization that
brings together traders in Kampala, said the majority of their members lost
capital when the lockdown was announced. She said others kept spending on water,
food, and rent at home when they were not working while those who locked shops
found most goods had expired.
She told a virtual meeting organized by NGOs Akina Mama Wa Afrika and Friedrich
Ebert Stiftung that many of these businesses owned by women were not registered
and don't keep records which means it will be harder to access any government
help to survive. The meeting discussed how women-owned businesses can survive
in the post-coronavirus world.
//Cue in 54% of small…
Cue out: … in their shops.”//
The nature of these businesses, where the owners rent more than five people in
a particular shop in an arcade, has made it impossible to be opened early with
fears that they could be a weak link to spread the virus. Only 48 arcades have
been cleared to open this week, meaning longer wait for more businesses to
KACITA’s fears rhyme with earlier findings in May by the United Nations Capital
Development Fund that at least 4.4 million workers in the informal sector will
either see their earnings fall below the poverty line or dry up completely.
The UNCDF report said that the smaller the business the more likely it will not
survive the pandemic as the lockdown dragged on.
Catherine Wanyama, a trader in Nakawa, said while they were not working, money
lenders who had given them money continued demanding that they payback.
She said on the borrowing of 250,000 shillings from money lenders, they are
required to pay back 320,000 shillings after a month, an 18% interest. She said
this depleted their savings and the little capital they would have used to
Flavia Amoding, a programmes officer at the Uganda Workers Education
Association, urged the government to give special attention to informal
workers. She said they are less protected and most casual labourers in the
formal entities also lost their jobs, a call for help.