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Less than three per cent of private consumption in Kenya was spent on clothing and footwear, which translates to Sh4,150 per person yearly on mitumbas, new clothes and new footwear, according to the survey by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) and Mitumba Consortium Association of Kenya (MCAK).

Kenya imported 185,000 tonnes of second-hand clothing in 2019, equivalent to about 8,000 containers, finds the study titled: The State of Second-hand Clothes and Footwear Trade in Kenya report done in 2019. 

A Nation Newplex perusal of social media found about 43 mitumba Facebook groups created by Kenyans with over 1,000 subscribers each. Over 1.1 million Facebook users have subscribed to these groups.

Social networks are playing an increasingly important role in people’s brand research behaviours, and are now second only to search engines, according to GlobalWebIndex.

When it comes to brand research social networks are the top choice among internet users aged 16 to 24. Half of the girls and women in this age group turn to social media for information about brands.

The increasing popularity of social media is not surprising given that four in five Kenyans over age 14 report that digital devices and services have made their lives better, with about a third recording an increase in their income as a result of accessing digital services on mobile phones, computers and internet based tools.

Over two million traders are directly employed by the mitumba trade, says MCAK Chairperson, Rev Teresiah Njenga. “Many successful traders started their mitumba businesses as a side hustle when they were students or housewives,” she said.


Miss Joan Akinyi, a Chemical Engineering student at Technical University of Kenya, runs an Instagram page with over 6,000 followers that sells mitumbas. 

“Selling mitumba looked like something that I could easily juggle with my school schedule. Instagram has worked well for me because most of my customers use it,” she says.

At the start of the Covid-19 crisis when the government implemented a partial lockdown, her sells increased as most people were buying items online.

“Now my income is between 5,000-Sh8,000 weekly,” says the 23-year-old.

Ms Wambeere also recorded a big jump with her sales doubling. “An increasing number of Kenyans trust online shopping. Now 90 per cent of my clients are online,” she says.

Roughly, three in five internet users visited an online shopping platform in June this year, and over half of internet users say that they shop or browse for products online every week, according to global digital statshot report released last month.


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