Mama Mboga: exploring the continuity of micro retailers of fresh fruit and vegetables in Nairobi, Kenya
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date31/07/2022
Kariuki, Juliette Wairimu
Food retail in Africa is undergoing a dramatic transformation, threatening the existence of traditional retailing practices in urban metropoles. In particular, the issue of supermarket (SM) development is important because it threatens the continuation of the Mama Mboga (MM) retailing institution. Understanding the impacts of SM on MM is important because MM has historically been integral to the provisioning of fresh fruits and vegetables (FFV) to Kenya's urban population. The existing scholarship on retail development in Sub Saharan Africa (SSA) does not account for the persistence of the MM retailing practice, especially in an economy where SMs are prioritised; nor does it account for the various strategies employed by MM retailers to ensure their continuity. It is these strategies which have allowed MM to successfully transition from being an indigenous African trade to a commercially viable contemporary retailing institution. In this thesis, I study the impacts of the prioritisation of supermarketisation in Kenya's national development agenda on MMs. Specifically, this thesis focuses on MMs heterogeneous strategies and the factors that drive the re-configuration of their built environment, their carefully curated procurement strategies that enable MM to diversify their competitive positions, and their adoption of competition immiscible characteristic of MM enterprise behaviour. This study focuses on the urban marketplace of food in Nairobi, in particular, Hillview Estate in Kasarani. The analysis is based on qualitative fieldwork undertaken over a total of nine months between 2016- 2017, during which time the dynamics of MM and SM networks, experiences, behaviours, and changes were revealed by applying fourteen methodological techniques. These techniques helped to identify behaviour, practices and decision making that would have otherwise remained undiscovered. This thesis shows that the continuity of MM in the marketplace of food involves the adoption of strategies relating to their external and internal environments – the macro environment, the microenvironment, and the internal environment. Within each of these environments, MM have rebranded themselves as competitive and commercially viable retailers operating on the margins of the urban retail marketplace. This finding challenges retail market literature which assumes that the teleology of retail development means that traditional retailers will become obsolete by usurpation by SMs.