Women have embraced the shoe shinning business within Nairobi’s Central Business District (CBD), a venture once considered exclusive for men.
A spot check by Nairobi News around Nation Centre, Kencom stage, I&M building, Teleposta Towers, River Road, and several bus stations show women engaging in this manual work with impressive finesse.
A majority of them are either employed or self-employed. And as is key to the success of any business venture, they shoe shinners are strategically located to offer services to the 2 million people who access Kenya’s capital city each day.
And they seem to have mastered the trade.
Every time you pass by, they will welcome you with smiles, waves, and the signature karibu customer (welcome customer) greeting while consistently urging you to improve on the outlook of your footwear.
They too have stories to tell with most attributing this venture to the hard economic times and quest to make ends meet.
Jackline Moraa also confesses that women use beauty as an added advantage to lure male customers.
She adds that with an average Sh40 to Sh50 to be earned from each shoe that has been brushed, totalling to a possible Sh500 daily income, this hutsle job is good enough to sustain her and her 3-year old son. There is also a little bit left as savings for a rainy day.
“It all depends on how fast, and presentable you are plus your ability to talk to customers, how attractive you get, and ability to serve your customer to their satisfaction,” she explains.
Her best moments are during the rainy season when shoes tend to get dirty very quickly and advises ladies to be prepared to ‘get dirty’ so as to earn a living in the current world.