While Covid-19 has resulted in one of the worst economic downturns in modern history, Maun has seen an increase in small business start-ups and creative ways of making fast cash.
Indeed, the tourist town’s Old Mall is now crowded with hawkers.
“When I lost my job at the safaris, I had to buy a bale of used clothes for resale because I have children to feed and clothe and rent to pay. I could not just sit back and use Covid as an excuse for failing to provide for my children, ” explained Lesedi Moje, a single mother-of-three and a street vendor at the bustling Old Mall.
Like numerous other hawkers, the 35-year-old Moje applied for a trading licence during the 2020/2021 financial year.
According to the Maun Administration Authority (MAA), from April 2020 to the one just gone, the council received an overwhelming number of licence applications, especially for hawkers and street vendors.
“This was due to new programmes that were initiated by CEDA (Citizen Economic Empowerment Agency) and LEA (Local Enterprise Authority) being Mabogo Dinku and Covid-19 relief subsidy,” explained MAA Chairperson, Vepaune Moreti when opening this week’s council session in Maun on Monday.
He revealed 8, 564 licenses were issued during the 12-month period in question, ultimately creating 12, 426 jobs.
LEA is currently implementing informal sector services whereby clients whose business were affected by Coronavirus are being assisted with P1, 000 to boost their business. Through this programme, according to Moreti, LEA has assisted a total of 2, 232 people to date.
Additionally, in response to the pandemic, an increase has been recorded in people showing interest in small scale rearing of chickens.
“This was fuelled by emerging tenders to supply eggs to primary schools. Currently, there are 299 poultry projects of which 189 are broilers and 117 layers. These projects created jobs for 299 people, 103 males and 196 females,” disclosed Moreti.
He further added it is evident there is an opportunity for the sub-district to grow the poultry sector.
“All efforts should be made to mentor those established and those seeking to enter into the market to ensure their survival,” he stated.
With the economic hardships leading to large-scale job losses, some locals have come up with enterprising ideas, including creative photography and online selling of products among others. Others have gone into tendering as government and the council want to give the youth especially, the opportunity to grow their businesses and even create employment for others.
“For instance, 500km of vegetation control projects along Maun roads have been reserved for youth-owned companies. These are now expected to commence in June 2021 for a period of two months,” revealed Moreti, adding the award of tenders ‘is expected very soon.