NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Jerusha Atieno sells vegetables in Soweto,
Kayole, a low income suburb on the east of Kenya’s capital Nairobi.
Her average income a day is no more than 5 U.S. dollars. Therefore,
she buys items in small quantities.
Initially, she would buy all her household items from small shops
near her home, but these days, even when she wants to buy salt,
Atieno walks to any of the three malls not far from her shanty home.
"I can walk either to Shujaa Mall, which is the nearest or
Greenspan Mall or Komarock Mall, which is a little far but still a
walking distance," she said on Friday.
All the malls, located near the surrounding middle income estates
of Umoja, Savannah, Komarock, Greenspan and Jacaranda, host Kenya’s
Inside the malls, Atieno can walk around as she looks at the
items on display, eat at a restaurant, visit a bank or enter an
Ethiopian food eatery or a coffee shop, before buying what she wants
at the supermarket.
And to cap it all, she has a shopping card through which she
earns points every time she shops, which she can then redeem later.
"I never imagined I would ever shop like this.
"This is something I only saw in Nigerian movies or in places
where the rich live in Nairobi one time I was doing domestic work
there but now it has come to us," said the happy trader.
Initially, the malls were constructed in leafy suburbs in Nairobi
and were mainly frequented by the rich and the sophisticated.
But things changed in the last five years or so as developers in
the East African nation took the shopping complexes to the
Bordering the middle-income estates are low income settlements,
The malls have spiced up shopping experiences for the residents
in the suburbs, especially the low income earners.
Some of the suburbs in Nairobi and on the outskirts where malls
have been constructed recently are Roysambu, Ruaka, Kitengela,
Syokimau, Athi River, Buru Buru and Rongai.
The low income earners frequent the malls as much as the high
While the former might only strict themselves to supermarkets,
the latter enjoy top services at health clinics, banks and exclusive
"I no longer buy things like bread from the shop near my home.
"These days I park my bike near the entrance of the mall and go
for shopping," said John Njenga, a motorbike rider in Kitengela.
A new mall was opened two weeks ago in the fast-growing suburb
and it hosts a supermarket and various other shops, with low income
earners like Njenga flocking the building to shop.
According to a Consumer Insight survey released online recently,
Kenyan’s love for shopping is huge, only second in Africa after
They are then followed by Nigeria and Ghana, with people flocking
malls in their hundreds every day.
Earnest Manuyo, a business management lecturer at Pioneer
Institute in Nairobi, noted that the malls have not only bettered
the shopping experience for the poor but also the middle-income.
"They are game-changer. People are enjoying quality shopping from
near their homes," he said.
For the middle-income, he noted that during weekend, they can
shop as their children enjoy bouncing castles, face painting or ride
"It is really new and memorable experience for some middle and
low income earners," he said.