Study: Tough Economic Time Sends Kenyan Office Workers To ‘Side Hustles’

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Kenya’s Office Workers Turn To Side Hustles To Survive Tough Times

Janet Njoroge works as a secretary at a private tour company in Nairobi. On the side, she sells perfumes and artificial nails online.

She has been at her main job for the past seven years – although she has nothing to show for it.




The mother of three still earns the same salary seven years down the line, even though the cost of living has increased tenfold in the same period.



“The cost of living is high; prices of basic commodities like cooking oil, sugar and bread have increased a lot. This is why I have to find additional income to ensure I can live through the month,” she told Wananchi Reporting.



Janet says she earns Ksh 38,000 monthly – with the perfume and nails hustle bringing in Sh7,000 a month.



Vincent Okinyi runs a content creation platform – but this is not his main 8.00am to 5.00pm job.




“I work as an IT Assistant at a logistics company in Nairobi, but I also create content which I post on social media platform and make money,” he says – adding that he creates original content that focuses on technology.




Although his income from content creation is nothing to write home about yet, he is hopeful the platforms will bring in good bread soon.




Side hustles are fast becoming common among the employed in Kenya; teachers, economists, drivers, lawyers, nurses, CEOs, journalists and even morticians.




Many say they are doing this to survive; by generating additional income.



“My salary alone cannot sustain me. I need to do something else to survive; and leave fairly comfortably,” said Okinyi.



There is, however, concern that the promise of the side hustle outgrowing the main job and delivering the much-needed financial freedom often deludes one from compromising the main gig. Others spread themselves so thin that both engagements end in premium failure.



“I have learned to balance my main work and the side hustle,” says Ms. Njoroge – noting that he still needs to put in adequate effort to make sure his main job does not suffer.




On his part, Okinyi says he has learned to plan his time well to avoid burnout or short-changing his employer.



“I try to avoid conflicts of interest with my main employer and my side hustle,” he says.




Some employers often demand that their staff declare their side businesses especially if they are in direct conflict or competition with their employer.




Many – however – keep their side hustles to themselves.




“I try to keep my side hustles to myself, because even my boss at the company runs a beauty shop as a side hustle,” says – noting that her boss has on a few occasions tried selling to her – in the office.



This comes at a time when many Kenyans are grappling with high fuel prices, increased taxation and general cost of living.

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