With no government support and lockdown nearing how has Covid-19 effected small businesses in Malawi?

This is Farida's blog about what is going on in Malawi and how we can support...

The outbreak of the Coronavirus in Malawi, just as in other countries, globally, has seen a drastic change in business and life in general.

The first outbreak was recorded on the 2nd April 2020 and has since then risen to 36 cases so far. This has seen a change of operation in public transport, grocery store queuing, banks and business conducts, especially small-scale businesses. 

Our sales & marketing assistant Farida, spoke to one woman in business, whom we work closely with during our women’s skills workshops. Anna Malewezi - the founder of AG Malaika vocational skills training school.

Anna spoke about the difficulties she has faced since certain bans/measures had been made due to the coronavirus and how it has affected her line of business as a whole. She also mentioned her current solutions and how they have been working so far.

Anna M VN

“My business as a vocational skills training school has been affected from the moment the government requested all learning institutions to be closed to prevent the spread of the virus. We had to abide and opted for online lessons in one of the easiest courses, which is baking & cake decoration. The response to it was not good because many Malawians are not yet familiar with the online system & many prefer hands on lessons than online ones.

We then decided to switch business ideas, selling items that would prove handy at this time, such as: masks, dispensers, sanitizers. This has kept us going, but slowly running out now that we can’t import items. We tried self-made items, but this has little profits and raw materials are running out. 

The government has not done much & if it has, it has not been beneficial to everyone, but rather favours big businesses, not start-ups like ours. For now, we’ll rely on our international students that understand the online lessons a little better & hope for our future plans and collaborations to go accordingly.”

Many businesses have seen major shifts, and like Anna, some are changing their business idea to fit the current business environment. The country is not under lock-down yet, however, so people are taking measures such as having hand-washing stations & sanitizing stations outside of shops, auto-teller machines & areas of business. Public transport has been reduced from 100% seating capacity to 60% and social-distancing is to be maintained in shopping areas. 

We hope that you all have been keeping safe during this time & staying hopeful for a positive change towards the end of all this.

Farida

A final word about Coronavirus and Malawi...from Kate

I asked Farida to chat with some of the business ladies we have worked with over the past two years to hear about how we can support them during the covid-19 pandemic. A resounding message came back, a message of how they were diversifying, trying new ideas, seeking new markets and above all showing a determination to continue. With no support from the government for small enterprises and their markets to other countries now closed these ladies constantly astound me with their 'never give up attitude'. Anna's words above are just a few of the many responses we got but all were concerned about the same issue- not fear of catching coronavirus but the fear of not being able to have an income to feed their families. They need/want to trade, they need income to buy provisions for their families, to access healthcare and to educate their children.

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If you want to support Malawi at this time then please 'trade' where you possibly can: buy a beautiful chitenge apron for a gift for your granny who you can't see, buy a pencil case to store your childs homeschooling stationary in, buy fair trade products whenever you can- keep business going during the lockdown! Contact me to find out more about how you can get involved.

Thank you for your continued support. Kate

Stay connected with us by following us on Facebook & Instagram or visit our Orbis Skills Website to find out how you can support businesses in Malawi this year.

#bepartofsomething 

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