Shoeshine Services in Nairobi
Three rectangular wooden crates, shoe polish, brushes and a few additional paraphernalia was all it took to operate a shoeshine stand in Nairobi’s Central Business District (CBD) in the years gone by. These mobile businesses proliferated every street corner and backstreet, providing much needed shoeshine services to office workers and visitors to the City at an affordable cost.
When the NARC government came to power in 2002, they embarked on a mission to purge the city of most informal services, including the shoeshine operations. The needs of the city residents and visitors who depended on these services were overlooked and so for five years thereafter, one had to walk a kilometer or more to get to one of only four shoeshine locations in the CBD. Only two shoeshine stands on the sidewalks of the whole CBD were spared, that is at the Railway Station and Accra Road, while the other two were outside the City Council’s jurisdiction inside the Nyayo House compound and Nakumatt Lifestyle building. Perhaps the smart look and branding of these few shoeshine stands by a local shoe polish manufacturer helped convince the city fathers to spare them.