Surviving the grip of COVID-19


The national lockdown period which began on the 2nd of April amid restrictions was eased recently, leaving economic scars on almost all sectors of the economy.

But it is the informal sector that has felt much of the strain, without any alternative source of income.

The Voice took to the streets of Gaborone and Francistown to find out how these traders survived during the period and their efforts to make ends meet the means.

Tathuka Time, 26 – Carpenter
I do carpentry and we have just opened for business this week but it’s still difficult.

The lockdown has affected my business badly because customers are still scarce.

I think customers still don’t have money to come and buy, there are a few who pass by to buy.

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The other challenge which we are facing is shortage of material because we use pallets as these materials come with trucks from other countries such as Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Now, because some industries in these countries have been closed it means we are running short of material to use.

However, I am hopeful that as time goes on we will be able to get the required material.

About the CEDA relief loan, I think it will be a bit difficult for us because we have heard they want a trading license, but I am in the process of applying for the license so that I can get access to this money.

Surviving the grip of COVID-19
Setlogile Modisaotsile, 53

I survive by selling clothes and other accessories like belts, wallets, sunglasses and newspapers.

I have been doing this since 2006 up until recently when the country went on lockdown which has affected my livelihood.

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I have a child who attends an English Medium school where I pay P800 every month which is P2400 per term.

Since I have not been working, it means I am now in arrears and as schools reopen, it means I have to pay and the question is, where am I going to get the money?

But because lockdown has been eased, customers are beginning to come, however it’s still tough because before lockdown I was not suffering.

Surviving the grip of COVID-19
Rejoice Khole, 48 – Street Hawker

I sell sweets and airtime and we have been making ends meet before the lockdown period.

I failed to honour my rental last month because of lack of income which never happened to me before.

We are however hopeful that the situation will improve if, by the grace of God, we don’t go back into lockdown.

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Surviving the grip of COVID-19
George Molele, 75, Artifact Trader

I sell the artifacts which I make myself, right now business is slow because most of my customers who are tourists, are not able to come here from overseas.

The hope is that they will come over here soon.

I wish I could apply for the CEDA relief loan by CEDA but I don’t think I would be able to pay it back because of the market disruption.

Surviving the grip of COVID-19
Osah Malilo, 53, Street Vendor

I finished all the money I had during lockdown buying food.

I borrowed some money to buy some stock.

The business is still slow but I am sure it will be better with time.

I haven’t received the government food package but another group called Siviya Turn Up donated some food to those who did not get any food baskets from government.

Surviving the grip of COVID-19
Oduetse Moleele, 53, Repairman

Lockdown was okay, the problem is I received the food baskets very late (end of April).

The government could have given us food before we got into lockdown.

I’m broke now and I have not paid my rent because I only get money when I fix television sets for people.

I have not applied for CEDA funds because it’s not like they are giving it to us for free, you have to repay the loan.

So imagine I take the money and my business fails, how will I repay the loan?

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