LUSAKA, April 18 (Xinhua) -- After working for six years as a waiter at one of Zambia's prestigious five-star hotels, 25-year-old Diana Jela suddenly found herself among the many unemployed youths in the country.
According to Jela, the hotel management announced the sad news of closing down the premises around March 2020, citing loss of business resulting from COVID-19 as the main reason.
"It was a very difficult time for over 150 employees that had relied entirely on their jobs for survival. A lot of my colleagues lost hope and went into a deep depression," she recollected.
But after a month of staying home, Jela, a resident of Lusaka, Zambia's capital, decided to use the skills she gained from her job to embark on her lifelong dream of running eateries in busy places.
"As a waiter, I interacted with chefs in the hotel kitchen a lot, which gave me the opportunity to learn how to prepare a range of custom-made dishes. It is that very skill that has helped me to stay afloat financially today," she explained.
Jela now provides takeaway foods to mini-bus drivers operating in Lusaka's Kamwala South area who faced challenges accessing hot meals as many restaurants in the area had been closed.
"I saw that gap in the provision of food for this population group and decided to capitalize on it. I make a 100 Zambia Kwacha (about 4.5 U.S. dollars) profit on a good day. The business is easy to run as one only needs a few cooking utensils and ingredients to run," she enthused.
Many people in Zambia continue to share how the COVID-19 pandemic has helped them to be innovative and think outside the box in terms of income-generating activities.
Thirty-eight-year-old Deborah Kanyinji, also a resident of Lusaka is yet another individual that has managed to survive the otherwise harsh economic times by being innovative.
Kanyinji, a single mother with four children, had been a freelance maid all her adult life and earned her living by doing household chores for busy people. But the advent of COVID-19 caused incomes to dwindle, compelling households to cut down on expenses including services such as those offered by Kanyinji.
After months of trying to find jobs and to no avail, she ventured into providing home-prepared hot meals to individuals and businesses operating in Lusaka Central Business District at the advice of a friend.
She now earns her bread from selling simple pre-packed homemade meals to the working class in Lusaka's Central Business District who are often too busy to go out and get something to eat.
"I work up at 5 am to prepare the meal which often consists of pasta and eggs which I sell in packs. One costs 10 Zambia Kwacha (about 0.45 U.S. dollars), and I sell over 25 packs every day. The profit is often half of all sales," she explained.
For Jessy Zulu-Kamuyuwa aged 37, a resident of Chilenje Township in Lusaka, being home after five years of teaching at a school for vulnerable children drove her to find ways of generating income to make up for her lost salary when schools closed due to COVID-19.
"I like making things. After reading about making pallet sofas, I went on to buy materials and made the first pallet sofa, which I sold within days. I also make ornamental items and furniture using recycled materials," Zulu-Kamuyuwa explained.
She revealed she sells plain pallet sofas for 500 Zambia Kwacha apiece, while the rest of the products have different prices. All in all, she is able to realize about 3,000 Zambia Kwacha every month from the sale of her crafts.
She added that the COVID-19 pandemic has taught many including herself, to be innovative and to use available resources to earn a living.
"The bright side of the pandemic is that it has awakened the entrepreneurship spirit in many people," she said.
Zulu-Kamuyuwa has also been conducting entrepreneurship training that mainly focuses on making items from recycled materials such as pieces of cloth, used car tires to help groups and individuals be resilient. Enditem