WHILE the explosion of the Covid-19 pandemic has brought with it death, destruction, anxiety and disruption of lives across the globe and also in Zimbabwe, the disease has had an interesting effect on economic activities as well.
From the hairdresser, barber to a previously dead textile sector, the effect of the pandemic has left ordinary Zimbabweans renowned for their entrepreneurial ingenuity having to adopt and adapt or die.
A new breed of entrepreneurs has been birthed as people move to merge with the new world order of staying at home and social distancing at the same time ensuring that life does go on.
The textile industry which had been literally shut down has seen tailors especially home based roar into life with the manufacture of face masks.
Ms Sindisiwe Sibanda who ran a lucrative fashion and design business in Bulawayo’s Central Business District (CBD), but closed down as she was not enlisted as an essential service has moved her business home.
She has dusted up her sewing machines as production of face masks hit through the roof and a new line of revenue has emerged from absolutely nowhere.
“I left the business back in March when the lockdown started and I sat at home meditating on my next move. There was basically no business at all but when it was announced that we have to wear face masks I quickly decided to make use of the machine I have at home and the scraps of cloth that I had. I now sew masks at home and it does not take much to do them. This way I am earning foreign currency and feeding my family,” she said.
Ms Sibanda sells the masks at USD 0.75c each and has started receiving orders from other people who are ordering them in bulk.
“I actually now supply people who are in the CBD and they take bulk orders. I am even failing to meet demand because everyone wants to have a few masks for themselves and their families,” she revealed.
Other large industries in Bulawayo have also switched gears and are manufacturing face masks en mass in order to supply the market that is in need of this new requirement.
This is all because of a new phenomenon known as national lockdown that is aimed at slowing down the spread of the deadly virus.
Government also made it compulsory for everyone to wear a face mask in public places.
The internet has proved to be a valuable asset to many Zimbabweans as they are performing almost all transactions via their mobile phones and goods delivered to their homes in a bid to ensure they are safe from the virus.
Now Zimbabweans have bread and butter being delivered to their offices by local companies all by a click of a button.
The retail sector has also not been spared. Groceries are now being bought online something that only two months ago was synonymous with developed western societies. In Zimbabwe, some retailers like OK were already offering the service before Covid-19 but back then there were few takers. Covid 19 is likely to boost the service as more people shop from the comfort of their homes.
Malaicha.com, an internet based service is delivering food to people in Bulawayo and beyond, sourced by their relatives living in the diaspora.
One can order groceries and pay from their various destinations. Once payment has been made, beneficiaries collect their groceries in the CBD. This previously was not done as people were traditionally used to shopping in supermarkets.
“I receive my food from my daughter who is in South Africa. All I do is just go and collect the food, I cannot stand in the long queues that are characteristic at many food outlets so this service is better for me,” said one Gogo Marry Moyo, a beneficiary from Malaicha.com.
Suddenly societies like Zimbabwe slow to catch up because of income disparities in other developed countries have had to make a sharp turn to accept the new reality brought about by of all things a health catastrophe.
House calls have always been reserved for medical practitioners who provide their services to patients. Today house calls are now a common occurrence with hair dressers and barbers now offering their services to their trusted clients from the comfort of their homes.
Since they have not been able to access their places of work, they are taking their services to their clients.
“We ensure that our clients come with and wear facemasks. I have since secured sanitisers so that they sanitise before I start working on them. I also ensure that I do the same. I have to pay rentals for the house I live in and also need to feed my family. Since the salon was closed I have been working from home until a time when salons are fully opened and disinfected,” said one Mrs Moreen Chamunorwa, a hair dresser.
Boot sales are also trending and are a common feature than never before.
One can find vegetables, groceries, clothing, toiletries and so much more from people selling from their cars. They have also been generous enough to deliver their produce to customers who will have made significant purchases.
To the entrepreneurs, Covid-19 has made them think outside the box and offer services that many Zimbabweans have never been accustomed to.
They believe this may be a new way of life, one they will adopt in order make shopping experiences more pleasant and easier especially for the elderly and those that do not want to be caught in traffic jams, long supermarket queues. Some just want to bargain for the goods that they buy on social media platforms.