The COVID – 19 pandemic has ravaged both developing and giant economies around the globe leaving many investors with no option but to close down.
However some local manufacturing companies have been compelled to invest in new innovations in order to survive the ”COVID -19 pandemic onslaught.”
Umoja Rubber Products Ltd, a footwear local manufacturing factory based at Mtwapa at Kilifi County survived the COVID -19 pandemic crisis by a whisker and is now thanking the government for the Big 4 Agenda and “Buy Kenya build Kenya” initiative that has worked miracles amid COVID -19 pandemic crisis.
The company`s C.E.O Jinal Shah in an interview with the press divulged the new innovations and skills that the company embraced to survive the COVID -19 era saying they never closed down the factory or layed off any worker as a result.
Jinal attributed his survival to “Buy Kenya build Kenya “strategy where he said his business was never affected by the lockdowns since it sourced its raw materials locally and employed workers from the surrounding community.
He also said that the company had to device new ideas and digital innovations in order to compete with the international market and respond to the existing challenges brought by COVID -19 pandemic.
The C.E.O said that umoja rubber was a beneficiary of president Uhuru Kenyatta`s big 4Angenda and has in the recent past won government tenders to supply leather boots to disciplined forces.
He further thanked the current government for the good gesture that has seen local industries resurrect saying the former governments had allowed mitumba and other goods thus killing the local industries.
Beside the government tenders, the company is also exporting shoes to Europe, America and the 14 countries in Africa competing with China and other manufacturing countries.
However the C.E.O said through adapting and innovating the digital solutions, coronavirus pandemic has radically changed the pattern for the demand of their products and services.
He said that many Kenyans have no idea that some items they buy as mitumba (second hand)have their origin from the local industries saying America buys from them and after using the products send them back in the country as second hand.
“We have the capacity to make quality products which are competing with the international market and Kenyans must build their own economy by buying Kenyan made goods” said Jinal. “We buy leather from Athi River tanning factory, buy cotton made materials from Thika cloths mills to make our shoes, buy packaging materials from within thus creating more employment to Kenyans that trickles from the top to the grassroots benefitting cotton farmers, herders (pastoralists) through selling cotton and skins”. He added.
Workers in the factory expressed their joy and feelings that they are proud to be recognized by the government in making leather boots for the forces and gumboots for the health workers in the country adding that all this was brought in by our president’s good gesture in encouraging Kenyans to buy goods made in the country”
The Buy Kenya Build Initiative has its overall objectives strategy to increase competitiveness and consumption of locally produced goods and services. The strategy aims to promote and enhance the consumption of Kenya own products and services. President Uhuru Kenyatta has been in the forefront championing the campaign that has so far bore some fruits.
However, the importation of mitumba is still a thorny issue to many local manufactures and who are calling on the government to protect them from these cartels and not lift the ban on mitumba saying the recent ban has created space for them to exhibit their expertise in manufacturing. As a result, most manufactures have started to rise amid COVID – 19 pandemic.