Election season has arrived as Kenyans across the nation prepare to elect their new government and President on August 9th, 2022. Polling from previous elections has resulted in Kenyans feeling apprehensive during every election season post the 2007 Kenyan Presidential Elections. In 2007, President Mwai Kibaki was re-elected as president leading to a series of protests and violent attacks on protestors by the police. Similar events took place during the previous elections in August, 2017, where Human Rights Watch stated that the violence and brutality observed led to several human rights violations.
A few of Mkono’s entrepreneurs have voiced concern for their business primarily regarding the safety of their businesses, as well as interruptions in sales and productivity as demand for non-essential goods decreases. Kenyans are preparing for potential political and economic crises, therefore many have reduced spending and increased saving to offset any challenges they may face during this period. Moreover, individuals and business owners are concerned about the safety of their property if protests break out, especially businesses located near polls.
Below are some suggestions offered by the Mkono team in Kenya on how businesses can pivot themselves and remain safe during the upcoming elections.
Tip #1: Postpone major investment plans
As tensions increase and uncertainty looms, businesses may consider postponing major investments until the new government is secured. This applies to both businesses operating in Kenya as well as foreign companies looking to invest into Kenyan businesses. Given the uncertainty of the results, Kenyans are minimising spending in preparation for any potential crises.
Tip #2: Boost security for businesses
Protests may escalate once the results are known, therefore it is recommended that businesses increase security to protect their property from protestors and looters. This is particularly important for businesses located in close proximity to polls. To restrict access to the building, planks or other protective materials can be installed over windows, doors and other entryways. If possible, businesses may want to hire additional security to ensure their property remains safe.
Tip #3: Closely analyse the environment
It is important that business owners increase awareness of their surroundings during this time. For instance, polling booths are mostly located at primary and secondary schools, therefore businesses with locations nearby may look into closing for a few days to observe how the situation unfolds, and open back up when tensions decrease.
As election day approaches, It is crucial that SMEs continue to monitor their surroundings and create a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) in the case of any emergencies or potential crises. A BCP includes determining risks, how they can affect business operations and procedures on how to mitigate those risks. Mkono continues to work with its entrepreneurs to provide support and mentorship during this time, ensuring business owners are prepared and capable of coping with any anticipated risks.