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City women taking over shoe shining business

Shoe shining is fast becoming the new trending business for women given the scarcity of jobs in Nairobi.

Traditionally a male forte, shoe shining is now the preferred business for women who are giving up the low paying home-based jobs.

And they seem adept at the job, scrubbing off mud, washing, applying cream and polishing with majestic strokes of the brush.

Their customers, mostly men, troop in numbers unconcerned by the invasion of women in the shoe polish stalls.

Paulizan Okumu, a shoe shiner outside Nakumatt Lifestyle, joined the business after a long search for a job.

Ms Okumu serves with a smile at her stall outside Nakumatt Lifestyle. PHOTO | FAITH NYAMAI.
Ms Okumu serves with a smile at her stall outside Nakumatt Lifestyle. PHOTO | FAITH NYAMAI.

“I had worked as a house girl for so many years before I decided to become a shoe shiner,” she said.

The mother of two says life became unbearable and, left with little option, she decided to take any job that came on her way to enable her earn a living.

“I started working as a shoe shiner five years ago, when many people would look at me and wonder how a lady could work as a shoe shiner in the city,” she said.

“But as time went by, they got used and now I get more than one hundred customers in a day,” she added.

Ms Okumu is one among many other women working as shoe shiners to enable them put food on the table.

“I have two of my friends who work as shoe shiners and we all enjoy our work,” she said.

Curiously, customers prefer being attended to by a female shoe shiner.