Covid-19 is quite the storm. Strong, nondiscriminatory, and devastating. It is not only a healthcare problem but also social, political, and economic. The pandemic came and scuttled everything the world knew, and it will take a long time for us to collectively recover if ever.
It is difficult to say which areas were hardest hit and so for purposes of this article, we shall talk about economic activities. Businesses were hit hard, more so those that are driven by physical marketing, promotions and deliveries. These happen to be the majority and so the effects were felt all over. With the curfews, lockdowns, and curtailed public transport, these businesses came to a near standstill almost immediately and job losses were imminent. Worse still, this was without any prior preparation.
One of these businesses is Lamukami International Company – a Nairobi based (Mombasa Road) garment manufacturing company whose immediate worry was the plight of the workers. The company suffered the brunt of Covid-19 alright but lucky for them, they were able to act fast enough and turn things around after identifying a gap for PPEs in the market. They quickly converted their production line from garments to PPEs and especially surgical masks and this way they hit two birds with one stone. One, they were able to carry on with business and two, they were churning out crucial and much needed products in the fight against the pandemic when the country needed them most.
In July last year, Lamukami partnered with Mastercard Foundation not only to make and distribute much needed protective gear, but also to communicate the need for continued vigilance against the pandemic. This project worked by targeting boda boda riders as a powerful conduit in the fight against Covid. After all, riders are highly mobile, highly visible, and are in contact with many people every day.
These very characteristics that make riders a good avenue for Covid prevention are the same ones that could make them high risk spreaders. To curb this, the riders were equipped with kits that included masks and sanitizers so that they were able to stay safe and protect their customers. At the same time, they were given reflective jackets that were branded with safety messages so that their high mobility meant that lots of people saw the messaging. These items were given at no cost to the riders.
This project is part of Mastercard Foundation’s initiative dubbed #ItsUpToUs, that aims to sensitize people not to let their guard down because Covid-19 is still with us and the fight starts with us. In this series we have done more stories, like that of Joyce Kairu who is spear heading sensitization among the elderly in Kieni, and Greencard Mtaani who are sensitizing school children about proper handwashing.