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Here’s what it’s like to visit the small Spanish city that has been completely transformed by Zara and its billionaire founder – Strategy – Pulselive.co.ke

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  • Zara’s headquarters are located in Arteixo, a small town on the northwest coast of Spain.
  • More than 5,000 employees across various departments including design, photography, sales, and e-commerce work here. The site is also home to Zara’s largest distribution center, which is responsible for shipping the retailer’s clothing to 96 different countries around the world.
  • The presence of these sprawling headquarters has had a profound impact on the nearby city of La Coruña, where many of Zara’s employees choose to live.

Zara may have grown up, but it never really left home.

The clothing chain has been based in Galicia, on the northwest coast of Spain, since 1975. But what started out as just one store has grown into an enormous, multi-national business that is considered to be the largest fashion retailer on the planet, turning out over $30 billion in sales a year.

Despite this, Zara has always stayed true to its roots, and its billionaire founder, Amancio Ortega, has continued to expand its global headquarters in Galicia to accommodate its growth.

To do so, the company has brought in thousands of employees from different parts of the world to work on its design, photography, sales, and e-commerce strategy. This has had a dramatic impact on the culture of the nearby city of La Coruña, where many of these employees choose to live.

The locals call it the “Impacto Inditex,” and it’s felt in all areas of the city. Whether it be the fashionistas that roam the streets, dipping in and out of its trendy stores, cafes, and bars, or the disgruntled residents who say they face rising living costs, it’s clear that Inditex is having a profound impact on life in La Coruña, for better or worse.

We visited the city in August to see how much it has changed with the rise of Zara:

Amancio Ortega opened the first Zara store in La Coruña in 1975. He originally named his store Zorba after the 1964 film “Zorba the Greek,” but changed it after he discovered a nearby bar had the same name. Ortega reshuffled the letters to come up with Zara.


The first Zara store.play

The first Zara store.

(Business Insider/Mary Hanbury)

The first store still exists in La Coruña today, but there is very little distinguishing it from Zara stores you might find anywhere in the world.

Ortega opened Zara’s headquarters in the nearby town of Arteixo in 1977. This is still its home today.


Ortega opened Zara's headquarters in the nearby town of Arteixo in 1977. This is still its home today.play

Ortega opened Zara’s headquarters in the nearby town of Arteixo in 1977. This is still its home today.

(Google maps)

Arteixo, a small town with a population of about 30,000, is a roughly 20-minute drive from La Coruña, or A Coruña, as it’s known in Galician.

Over the course of two decades, the brand expanded dramatically, opening stores across Spain and in different countries around the world. In 1985, Ortega incorporated the chain into a holding company called Inditex.


Over the course of two decades, the brand expanded dramatically, opening stores across Spain and in different countries around the world. In 1985, Ortega incorporated the chain into a holding company called Inditex.play

Over the course of two decades, the brand expanded dramatically, opening stores across Spain and in different countries around the world. In 1985, Ortega incorporated the chain into a holding company called Inditex.

(AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Today, Inditex’s headquarters occupy a sprawling, 860,000-square-foot space in Arteixo.


Today, Inditex's headquarters occupy a sprawling, 860,000-square-foot space in Arteixo.play

Today, Inditex’s headquarters occupy a sprawling, 860,000-square-foot space in Arteixo.

(Jesus Sancho/AP Images)

The headquarters is also home to some of Zara’s factories and a distribution center where clothes are boxed and loaded onto trucks to be sent to 96 countries around the world.


The headquarters is also home to some of Zara's factories and a distribution center where clothes are boxed and loaded onto trucks to be sent to 96 countries around the world.play

The headquarters is also home to some of Zara’s factories and a distribution center where clothes are boxed and loaded onto trucks to be sent to 96 countries around the world.

(Business Insider/Mary Hanbury)

The distribution center has had a significant effect on La Coruña’s exports business.


This Zara distribution center is the largest of four in Spain and ships products to Zara's 2,238 stores.play

This Zara distribution center is the largest of four in Spain and ships products to Zara’s 2,238 stores.

(Business Insider/Mary Hanbury)

Though La Coruña is the 18th-largest city in Spain, the city and its province accounted for 4% of Spain’s total exports in 2017, according to Economy Ministry data reported by Bloomberg.

This is more than any other region in Spain with the exception of Madrid, Barcelona, and Valencia.

Inditex is also the largest employer in the region. More than 5,000 people work at its headquarters across various divisions including design, e-commerce, and sales.


Inditex is also the largest employer in the region. More than 5,000 people work at its headquarters across various divisions including design, e-commerce, and sales.play

Inditex is also the largest employer in the region. More than 5,000 people work at its headquarters across various divisions including design, e-commerce, and sales.

(Jesus Sancho/AP Images)

Residents say that this has had a profound impact on the city of La Coruña, where many of these employees choose to live, shop, and spend money. With a population of almost 250,000 people, La Coruña is significantly larger than Arteixo.


Residents say that this has had a profound impact on the city of La Coruña, where many of these employees choose to live, shop, and spend money. With a population of almost 250,000 people, La Coruña is significantly larger than Arteixo.play

Residents say that this has had a profound impact on the city of La Coruña, where many of these employees choose to live, shop, and spend money. With a population of almost 250,000 people, La Coruña is significantly larger than Arteixo.

(Business Insider/Mary Hanbury)

“Inditex is the big company that moves everything here,” Adolfo Lopez, 58, a business owner who has lived in the city all his life, told Business Insider.


"Inditex is the big company that moves everything here," Adolfo Lopez, 58, a business owner who has lived in the city all his life, told Business Insider.play

“Inditex is the big company that moves everything here,” Adolfo Lopez, 58, a business owner who has lived in the city all his life, told Business Insider.

(Business Insider/Mary Hanbury)

Lopez explained that the sheer size of the business means that almost everyone in the city will know someone who works either directly or indirectly for Inditex.

If you don’t know someone who works for Inditex, you are likely to know someone who works for a business that works for the company, he said.

Designers, models, and photographers come from all parts of the world to work here.


Designers, models, and photographers come from all parts of the world to work here.play

Designers, models, and photographers come from all parts of the world to work here.

(Shutterstock/saiko3p)

Local taxi driver Daniel Chans, 31, said the mix of different cultures has had a positive impact on the city.

“In the past, it was very rare to see an Asian or a black person going out together,” he said. “Now there is almost no racism.”

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It has also made the city more cosmopolitan. Residents say Inditex employees like to gather in one of the city’s busiest streets, Calle de Estrella.


El Charrúa, an Argentine restaurant on Calle de Estrella.play

El Charrúa, an Argentine restaurant on Calle de Estrella.

(Facebook/La Charrua)

“The city has modernized a lot; restaurants that you might find in Barcelona or in Madrid have opened here,” said Tamara Valencia, 29, a sales assistant at a boutique store in La Coruña.

“When you would go out at night years ago you would see no one. Now you find people on the street that you wouldn’t have seen before.”

When we explored Calle de Estrella on a Monday evening, the restaurants were brimming with people.


When we explored Calle de Estrella on a Monday evening, the restaurants were brimming with people.play

When we explored Calle de Estrella on a Monday evening, the restaurants were brimming with people.

(Business Insider/Mary Hanbury)

There are several stores along the street that are clearly targeted to a more fashion-conscious customer.


Almacen concept store on Calle de Estrella.play

Almacen concept store on Calle de Estrella.

(Business Insider/Mary Hanbury)

Valencia explained that there have been a lot of changes in her lifetime, and a whole host of trendy stores have cropped up.

It’s put the city on the map as a fashion destination.

“People started changing their way of dressing, and as the business started growing, people from other parts of Spain started noticing that people here were dressing well,” she said.

It doesn’t take long to stumble across an Inditex-owned store in La Coruña.


It doesn't take long to stumble across an Inditex-owned store in La Coruña.play

It doesn’t take long to stumble across an Inditex-owned store in La Coruña.

(Business Insider/Mary Hanbury)

Within 400 feet of our hotel, there are six: Zara, Pull & Bear, Bershka, Oysho, Uterqüe, and Massimo Dutti. It’s clear that Inditex is the dominant force in retail here.


Within 400 feet of our hotel, there are six: Zara, Pull & Bear, Bershka, Oysho, Uterqüe, and Massimo Dutti. It's clear that Inditex is the dominant force in retail here.play

Within 400 feet of our hotel, there are six: Zara, Pull & Bear, Bershka, Oysho, Uterqüe, and Massimo Dutti. It’s clear that Inditex is the dominant force in retail here.

(Business Insider/Mary Hanbury)

While many residents are happy that the city has evolved, it does have its consequences.


play

(Business Insider/Mary Hanbury)

The influx of employees has increased demand for rental properties in the center of town, driving prices up and making it more difficult for locals to live in the area.

“When I came here a year and a half ago and I was looking for an apartment, I found it super complicated to find a one-bedroom,” Sara Canedo, 25, a sales assistant at the Almacen concept store in the old town, told Business Insider.

“The real estate agents said that the majority of these apartments were being rented by people from Inditex.”

According to real-estate agency Engel & Völkers, average rental prices have increased by 15% in the last two to three years.


According to real-estate agency Engel & Völkers, average rental prices have increased by 15% in the last two to three years.play

According to real-estate agency Engel & Völkers, average rental prices have increased by 15% in the last two to three years.

(Business Insider/Mary Hanbury)

“[Inditex] has caused a big increase in the rental prices due to the number of employees coming from other cities or countries that have purchasing power,” Patricia Vigiola, a rental agent at Engel & Völkers in La Coruña wrote in an email to Business Insider.

She added: “The request is always the city center.”

Employees choose to live in La Coruña over Artexio because it is a more vibrant city.


Employees choose to live in La Coruña over Artexio because it is a more vibrant city.play

Employees choose to live in La Coruña over Artexio because it is a more vibrant city.

(Business Insider/Mary Hanbury)

“Arteixo is a rural area without any residential, cultural or social attraction. La Coruña is just 20 minutes away by car and is where you have all the services for your daily life,” Vigiola said.

Despite these rental increases, most residents seem to view the business and its founder favorably.


Despite these rental increases, most residents seem to view the business and its founder favorably.play

Despite these rental increases, most residents seem to view the business and its founder favorably.

(AP Photo/Iago Lopez)

This is likely because of the investments he has made into the city.

“Half of the city lives thanks to him,” Lopez said of Ortega.

According to El País, Ortega has donated money towards building schools and to benefit organizations that work with the region’s homeless and elderly population.

Ortega has stepped down as chairman but owns 59% of Inditex and is currently the fifth-richest person in the world.

Ortega is known for leading an extremely private life and seldom speaks to the press. He is said to live in a discreet apartment building in La Coruña.


Ortega is known for leading an extremely private life and seldom speaks to the press. He is said to live in a discreet apartment building in La Coruña.play

Ortega is known for leading an extremely private life and seldom speaks to the press. He is said to live in a discreet apartment building in La Coruña.

(Getty Images / Xurxo Lobato)

The residents we spoke to say they have never come into contact with him, and it’s likely that most locals haven’t. However, it’s a face that everyone knows.



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Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard

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Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.

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However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

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Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard

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President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow

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Drastic life changes affecting mental health

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Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.

KBC Radio_KICD Timetable

Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.

Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.

The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.

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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.

In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020.  It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.

A study by Dr. Habil Otanga,  a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says  that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.

KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.

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Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.

As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.

“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”

Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.

“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.

Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.

“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”

Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.

“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.

Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.

Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.

She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.

Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.

“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added

Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.

“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and  also engage in   reading that would  help expand their knowledge.

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