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Refugee ice-cream businesses frozen by lockdown in Dadaab camps

Abdimajid Jama Sanharir, owner of Sokeeye Ice Cream, one of three ice cream parlours in Dhagahley refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya, is feeling the impact of the Covid19 pandemic on his business.

Abdimajid Jama Sanharir, owner of Sokeeye Ice Cream,

His biggest customers were school children, who used to buy ice cream and soft drinks, but they have not been coming since March when the schools were closed.

Abdimajid’s parlour used to make 4,000 pieces of ice cream, selling at seven Kenya shillings each. Other retailers also bought from him and marked the ice creams up to 10 shillings.

“Many people, mostly women, would buy the ice cream from me to sell in front of the schools during break time. They used to come back to buy more from me to sell later in the day, but all that is now over because of the Coronavirus.”

Abdimajid’s average monthly earnings of 50,000 shillings (roughly $500) have slumped to less than a third. He had recently invested in a generator and other equipment to upgrade his business.

“I was able to cover the running costs as well as invest in the expansion. When the situation improves, I would like to add a fast food section to make the business more sustainable,” he said, still hopeful about future prospects.

Anas Mohamed Ali, 23, is a high school student working part-time at Sokeeye Ice Cream. He told Radio Ergo that he has had to take a cut in his salary from 500 to 300 shillings due to the downturn.

As the eldest son in his family who fled conflict in Kismayo 21 years ago, Anas’s income supports his five sisters and both elderly parents, who are not working.

“I used to give part of the money to my family and save some for a rainy day, now I don’t have any money to save,” he explained.

Misbaax Ice Plant is another small business affected by the lockdown. The business, also in Dhagahley camp, was started by Abdullahi and his brother.

“These days we only make 500 ice creams that take us three days to sell,” he said. “The bulk of our business was coming from schools, so when the schools closed we had to reduce our staff and their salaries.”

The brothers have been supporting their large 15-member family in Mogadishu from this business.

Some 35 street traders used to buy their ice creams to sell at marked up prices in front of schools in the camp.

Source: Radio Ergo

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