- by Sam Fenwick
- BBC Business Daily presenter
The BBC profiles three African women – a former shop owner, a teacher and a taxi driver – who have increased their income since adopting digital platforms.
The coronavirus pandemic has forced many people to rethink how they make a living.
Independent research group Caribou Digital found that women in Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana are benefiting from the low barrier to entry and flexibility of the digital economy – allowing them to earn their own money while retaining custody of their children.
Mrs. Tarit (pictured above) did not expect to double his income in nine months.
The Covid pandemic forced the closure of its baby clothing store in Eldoret, western Kenya, and subletting properties through online platforms like Airbnb seemed like a practical stopgap measure.
But Tarit, 29, is now one of a growing number of African women who are finding new careers using platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and ride-sharing apps like Uber and Bolt.
She started her property business nine months ago and now owns seven — taking on long-term leases and subletting on Airbnb.
“I made a lot more money than the business I had before the pandemic,” Tarit told BBC Business Daily.
The people using his business are mainly tourists booking vacation accommodation and business people who prefer to stay at an Airbnb rather than a hotel.
“During Covid, many of my friends lost their jobs and started using digital platforms to make money. Now they sell groceries online and work as delivery drivers,” Tarit said.
A typical day for Adzogble, 32, starts with posting product ads on WhatsApp and Facebook from his home in Accra, capital of Ghana.
It is capitalizing on one of the biggest shifts in the African economy – the rise of online marketplaces.
She sells cell phones, air conditioners and televisions by advertising and posting in groups she created on WhatsApp and Facebook, in addition to existing groups such as her church group.
Mrs. Adzogble gave up a job teaching French to focus on her online business.
“It pays better than education. I can sell an item and earn more than a month of schooling. I am a mother. I have to give my children the best education possible and they motivate me to obtain my financial independence”, she said.
for Mrs. Adzogble, building strong customer relationships is the key to making money online.
“That way they will buy from you and give you good feedback,” she said.
Mrs. Lawal, 34, works for ride-sharing companies Uber and Bolt in Nigeria’s main city, Lagos.
However, it hasn’t been easy – the single mother of four says some men have refused to be led by a woman.
“When I started driving taxis in Lagos, all the men canceled their rides when I arrived to pick them up,” Lawal said.
“Lagos is a bit difficult and you have to be very strong to drive in the city. Men think I don’t have the strength. I have to convince them to get in the car,” he added.
The Caribou Digital study also found that many women who use digital platforms for a living are concerned about their safety.
“Many of the women we spoke to said they were sexually harassed while taking taxis,” researcher Grace Natabaalo told the BBC.
“While governments encourage young women to undertake this work, they must recognize the flip side – that there are dangers and that they must be taken seriously by the police and government services,” she said.
But Mrs. Lawal said the positives outweigh the negatives.
“Earning a living is important, but I also want to contribute to the wider economy by paying taxes. I want to grow and grow Nigeria’s economy,” she said.
- You can hearhere(in English) the three women tell their stories to Sam Fenwick.