NAIROBI, Kenya — James Gichina started out 15 years ago as a driver shuttling travelers from the airport, worked his way up to safari guide, and with the help of some bank loans, bought two minivans of his own to ferry vacationers around.

His clients were, as he is, members of Africa’s growing middle class — bankers from Nigeria, tech entrepreneurs from South Africa, and fellow Kenyans who could finally afford trips to enjoy their own country’s beaches and wildlife preserves.

But when the coronavirus pandemic cratered the tourist industry and the economy, Mr. Gichina removed the seats from his minibus and started using it to hawk eggs and vegetables. With what he now earns, he said, he can barely afford to pay rent, buy food or send his 9-year-old son to school.

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