2020 was the year that normalized devastating loss for everyone. This year, the international shutdowns and the economic shockwaves caused by the Covid-19 pandemic continue to stifle trade. In the global south, the new normal is pushing small business to the brink of extinction.
As the coronavirus outbreak continues to ravage on, Caritas Czech Republic has embarked on a mission to provide vital Covid Relief support to underserved communities in Zambia. This intervention initiative aims to assist small businesses most affected by trade restrictions, with microgrants which would boost their operations.
“CCR would like to join government efforts to revamp the informal sector and mitigate the economic impact of Covid-19 on vulnerable communities, women and the elderly. The contributions given to small business owners will help boost their businesses and make recovery possible,” says Head of Mission, Stefania Lagonigro.
As part of the initiative, around 102 local traders based in Lusaka’s Mwamba Luchembe and Micheal Chilufya Sata markets were identified by Lusaka City Council and paid cash grants via mobile money. An additional 82 traders in Mongu’s Kapulanga, Central, Black and Green markets were identified by Mongu City Council. The traders are amongst thousands of small business owners facing severe revenue reductions across the country. On April 26th, the Caritas team begun verifying the microgrants in both Lusaka and Mongu.
On the ground in George Compound
Susan Zulu, a household’s goods trader based in Mwamba Luchembe market received a K3,500 cash transfer. At 23 years old, Susan represents the growing number of frontline youths who have made significant contributions to the economic recovery of their communities.
“My business was badly affected during the pandemic. I struggled to pay rent as my profits went down. But the K3,500 I received from Caritas Czech Republic has really helped boost my business. At least now, I will be able to stay on target and order new stock every week,” she said.
Another recipient of the cash grants is Dumisani Mwelwa. Dumisani was almost left penniless running a luggage stall which also supplies children’s essentials. The sudden reduction in traffic to his kiosk meant low sales volumes, a turn which has made it impossible for him to manage his operational costs.
“If my business investment generates enough capital, I’m planning to open up a shop and venture into a technology business trading in phones, laptops and computers. Since Caritas has helped us, I can now proceed with my future plans.
Meanwhile, the job market continues to be driven by small to medium sized businesses and now more than ever, Caritas Czech Republic is resolute in its commitment to Zambia’s economic recovery. While the road to economic growth is still ongoing, the cash grants are providing a pathway for small businesses, their employees and the communities that depend on them to survive.