Jua Kali: Running a blanket-based business

Jua Kali translates as under the hot sun in Kiswahili but in Kenya it’s a term meant to describe businesses in the “informal sector.” Jua Kali businesses have slightly less infrastructure than your typical lemonade stand. Often times they are just a blanket or some plastic sheeting on the ground, secured with rocks and displaying some limited inventory. The business location is the side of the road or a front stoop (though it still requires a permit).

Sicily has had a used clothing store for the last three years.

The upside of a Jua Kali business is the small amount of capital required to start up but the downsides are rain and wind and dust, theft, lack of storage, and unpredictable fees from police and other officials. But these business people are most concerned with the limited profit margin of an outdoor, blanket-based business because these lemonade stands must support whole families. A small profit also makes it almost impossible to expand, like buying more or different inventory or building a business premises.

Take a look at some other Jua Kali entrepreneurs in Nairobi that Kiva lenders have funded through Faulu Kenya, helping them begin to expand.

Catherine is the local green grocer.

Lillian has a snack shop in an industrial area.

Dominic sells electronics and homewares in Mukuru.

Angeline has a women’s shoe store.

Stephen sells homewares and beauty supplies.

Rachel Brooks is a Kiva Fellow working for Faulu Kenya in Nairobi. Join her on the Friends of Faulu Kenya Lending Team.


About the author

Rachel Brooks