Entrepreneurs seize Covid-19 business opportunities
DESPITE the Coronavirus’ (Covid-19) negative economic on the economy, local entrepreneurs are exploiting the little available pockets of business opportunities.
Lesotho, like most countries is facing a serious shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face masks, hand sanitisers and rubber gloves to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The low supply and high demand has created a business opportunity for entrepreneurs.
Protective and corporate wear manufacturers, Johane Industrials is one of the companies that have taken advantage of the PPE demand to venture into producing cloth face masks for the local market.
Managing director, Tšepo Johane said the business responded to an existing need for face masks after the government made it mandatory for everyone to wear masks in public.
One of the three locally-owned textile manufacturing companies, Johane Industrials is located at the Tikoe Industrial Site in Maseru.
“Since the outbreak started, we have adjusted and expanded our business profile into producing things we had no immediate plans of,” Mr Johane said.
The company has to date produced over 20 000 units of face masks for corporate and individual customers who buy at the company’s retail outlet. The individual buyers then re-sell the masks to the public.
“As business people, it is incumbent on us to study the market trends and adjust our production according to the needs in the market. So, when we realised that every country needs face masks in order to fight against Covid-19, we knew this was an opportunity we can exploit by producing the masks for our country.”
He said producing the masks has allowed his company to retain all its 36 employees when others are actually contemplating to lay off theirs.
“This business opportunity has kept us working when many other businesses shut down. This means that we have been able to retain all our 36 employees to produce the masks. We have large orders from several corporate companies who give us orders.”
Mr Johane said the virus had opened his eyes to emerging business opportunities. He said they were also in the process of producing surgical overalls used by medical professionals who attend to Covid-19 patients.
Butha-Buthe based TJ Group of Companies, has also been selling PPE after observing a gap in the market.
The company sells disposable surgical masks, sanitisers and thermometers among others.
“The idea of selling PPE was influenced by the shortage of the products in the market when the lockdown began. We also had to come up with other ways of some so that we could continue paying our staff salaries given the reduced business activity during the lockdown,” Joel Ndonde from TJ said.
“While the money is not much, it is still better than nothing.”
Tlotliso Lepheane decided to sell face shields after her income was negatively affected by the lockdown.
“I used to have a full-time job but due to lockdown, we were not allowed to go to work, so there was no income…
“I realised that the reduced income would not sustain me for the whole month. So, I had to think out of the box in order to generate money.
“That was when I decided to sell face shields especially when the government announced that everyone should wear a mask when going out to public.
“I found the face shields as an alternative to the mask as some people are complaining that mask give them difficulties in breathing. I started by buying 10 units and they sold out. I then bought 100 and they were also sold out. That is when I realised that it could actually sustain me.”
Ms Lepheane also said she was happy with the business as it does not require an office space and she can also deliver the shields to clients.