by Robert Manyara

China-made wares attractive to women are among the popular products that Kenyan traders are finding profitable to sell in the major urban centers in the East Africa nation.

These include the shower caps, headscarves and hair bands commonly used by women for the indoor and outdoor activities.

Rahab Wanjiku, who hawks the wares at the Nakuru town, central Kenya, told Xinhua Wednesday that they are fairly priced, a factor that many of the customers consider in purchasing the goods.

“We have a variety of shower caps and headscarves whose prices range from 1 U.S. dollar to 2.5 dollars based on the quality. But a hair band goes for 0.5 dollars and 2 dollars depending on the size,” said the trader while showing the labels on the products which indicated they were made in China.

By 7 a.m., Wanjiku would be in the town hawking the goods from one public service vehicle to another, which is the main strategy used by thousands of the Kenyan micro and small scale traders to find a market.

“The fact that they are marketable is the only reason I am still in this business. Hawking these goods feeds my three children,” said Wanjiku who started hawking three years ago after losing her waitress job in a local hotel.

Wanjiku trades in goods that for many years have been imported from India, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, but in the recent years China has overtaken the market competing for a dominating space.

Hawking has offered thousands of Kenyans access to self-employment, but accurate figures on those engaged in it are difficult to quote since the micro and small scale business sector is still under restructuring and reorganization.

However, hawking in Kenya is not limited to women oriented products imported from China.
Since 2012, Kenya has eyed China as a friendly development partner to cooperate with in achieving its socio-economic growth targets as outlined in the country’s Vision 2030.

Currently, China exports technological devices such as mobile phones and pads which are also sold in small shops in cities and major towns across the country.

Kenya is also receiving heavy machinery from China, including infrastructure equipment and farming apparatus which are critical to expanding the country’s economic growth.

By 2015, trade exchanges between China and Kenya stood at average of 1.5 billion U.S. dollars and is expected to grow with the continued expansion of cordial bilateral relations between the Asian giant and Africa.

Inflow of Chinese products into the Kenyan market may offer an alternative source of income for Kenyans such as Wanjiku, but their quality must be tested and assured by relevant authorities states, said Professor George Gongera, a scholar in micro and macro-economic issues.

“It is a favourable option to target individuals who have a low consumer power because they offer a market, but it is also important to consider their durability of the products,” he said.

He said Chinese investors can partner with Kenyans to establish factories manufacturing quality goods which could be sold not only in Kenya but also penetrate into the global market.

This, he said, could create more job opportunities through a systematic and organized market chain. Enditem



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