The Coronavirus is changing how businesses and entrepreneurs operateCoronavirus

Over the past couple of weeks, businesses and entrepreneurs have been taking to social media to write about how the coronavirus has affected their companies. Most messages start the same, whether on email or on social. “Owing to the Coronavirus…” Kenya’s numbers remain low with only 7 confirmed cases but small companies and entrepreneurs are still taking precautions.

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I asked a few of them about their strategies and hopes going forward.

Muthuri Kinyamu, Co-founder, Turnup.Travel

Turnup.Travel offers bespoke experiences for its clientele and partners, like the 24- Hour Nairobi IG Tour which is a showcase of Nairobi’s best in 24 hours.

2017, 24-Hour Nairobi IG Tour. File image

On event cancellations in light of the presidential address

At Turnup.Travel, we package, promote and document festivals and offer themed experiences to our clientele. Events are hugely affected by cancellations and rightly so for safety; it is at the core of our experience design to provide safe and secure experiences.  We’re in touch with organizers to review the next steps even beyond the presidential directive. As it is, we’ve not cancelled any at the moment. We’re monitoring the situation and will give regular updates to our partners and clients regarding events slated for the third week of April and onwards.

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On virtual meetings

All our teams are currently working from home and meetings are virtual. For those in the MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferencing, Exhibition) business, through our partner hotels, local teams can still hold meetings and sync with teams globally using state of the art technology. Besides that, hotels are ready with the necessary safeguards for anyone who wants to conduct business on their premises. Large events like conferences are, however, cancelled. We are also minimising business travel and unnecessary domestic travel. We seek to play a critical role in containing the spread of the virus and new infections.

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On their contingency plan in case of a lockdown

It’s still too early to talk about a lockdown.

The focus currently is safety. We are rebooking or refunding those affected by cancellations. We, however, hope the government can roll out a stimulus package for the tourism and hospitality industry to manage this difficult period. At Turnup.Travel, we launched our business during a tough election year, our team survived the 14 Riverside terror attack and we’re going to get through this as well.

As a tour operator, we don’t have any scheduled tours going on as planned to maintain the necessary social and physical distancing and to mitigate the spread.

As always, smooth seas never make skilful sailors and we’re prepared to roll with the tide. We’re sailors in the desert!

On their biggest priority in light of the situation and hope for the future

For now, it is honestly ensuring all our staff and clients are safe. We consider ourselves a family and the well-being of each person matters. Beyond safety, we’re sharing wellness tips to manage the anxiety and uncertainty as we regularly check in with our people.

Beyond the virus, there are lots of jobs online and income-generating opportunities in our value chain. We are a pretty lean company but we are lucky and I am optimistic we’ll bounce back. It’s also a good time to rethink what value, in terms of experiences and products, the industry offers to the market.

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For a long time, the legacy players in the industry have had the same activities, itineraries and rates. The current circumstances have stretched our imagination beyond the regular business operations and usual low & peak season demand.

It is a good time to think about our preparedness as a destination. However, we shall rise and shine again.

Diane Nthurima, CEO and Head Event Planner, Haut Monde Africa

Haut Monde Africa is an event planning and production company with a focus on curating interesting and unique events for the clientele.

Paint the run; one of Haut Monde Africa’s events

On event cancellation

Following the Government’s directive regarding COVID-19, we have postponed and not cancelled our upcoming event, Nywele Fest that was scheduled for 28th March 2020, to a later date.

On considering virtual events

Unfortunately not, our events are festivals therefore they can only happen physically and not virtually.

On a contingency plan

As a team, we have come up with a plan on measures and actions to take within this quarantine period. However, on matters of uncertainty like the new event date, we cannot provide much insight as that will be determined by the situation within the country and the world at large.

Biggest concern

We have events planned for the whole year, so pushing one means pushing the rest. Our biggest fear is that things will take time getting back to normal and it will affect the future of events in Kenya.

But I am an optimistic person, so I have hope that things will get better because we are taking the right precautions as a country right now.

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At the end of the day, our health and safety are very important. Therefore, as this is a matter out of our control, as event managers/planners, we have to be understanding of the whole situation.

We are definitely praying for the best. Stay safe everyone!

Alaa Qaid, Social Media & PR Manager, The Food Library by Jit

The Food Library has several restaurants to its name; Honey & Dough, Mercado, INTI and The Mirror.

Honey & Dough

On events and reservations

We are not hosting any events at any of our restaurants. We are supporting the Government’s decision and adopting the precautionary measures as advised. We are not encouraging restaurant reservations but we are allowing walk-ins at any of our restaurants. There is sanitizer at the entrance and customers also get sanitised wet tissues at the end of the meal.

On their contingency plan in case of a lockdown

In the unfortunate event that more cases are reported and we do go into lockdown then we will have to prioritise the safety of all our customers and staff. In which case the restaurants will be closed but take away will remain an option. Only specific personnel will be on call to ensure their safety and the safety of the food.

On their biggest priority in light of this situation

Our biggest priority at the moment is the safety and health of all our employees and staff as well as our customers.



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