- Written by Sam Fenwick
- BBC Business Daily presenter
The BBC profiles three African women – a former shop owner, teacher and taxi driver – who have increased their incomes since adopting digital platforms.
The coronavirus pandemic has forced many people to rethink how they make a living.
Independent research group Caribou Digital has found that women in Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana are benefiting from a lower barrier to entry and flexibility in the digital economy – allowing them to earn their own money while retaining child custody.
Ms. Tarrett (pictured above) did not expect to double her income in nine months.
The Covid pandemic has forced her children’s clothing store in Eldoret, western Kenya, to close, and subletting properties through online platforms such as Airbnb looked like a temporary feasible measure.
But Ms Tarrett, 29, is now one of a growing number of African women finding new jobs using platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and ride-sharing apps like Uber and Bolt.
She started her business with one property nine months ago and now owns seven – with long-term leases and subletting on Airbnb.
“I make a lot more money than I did before the pandemic,” Ms Tarrett told the BBC’s Business Daily.
The people who use his company are mainly tourists who book vacation accommodations and business people who prefer Airbnb rather than hotels.
“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,” said Ms. Tarrett.
A typical day begins for Ms. Adzogble, 32, with ads for products on WhatsApp and Facebook from her home in Accra, Ghana’s capital.
It is taking advantage of one of the biggest changes in the African economy – the rise of online markets.
She sells cell phones, air conditioners, and televisions by advertising and posting to groups she’s created on WhatsApp and Facebook, as well as existing groups like her church group.
Ms. Adzogble gave up a job teaching French to focus on her online business.
“It pays better than education,” she said. “I can sell something and earn more than a month’s education. I’m a mother. I have to give my children the best education possible and they motivate me to get financial independence.”
For Ms. Adzogble, building strong relationships with clients is key to making money online.
“That way they will buy from you and give good feedback,” she said.
Mrs. Lawal, 34, works for Uber and Bolt in Nigeria’s main city, Lagos.
However, it was not easy – the single mother of four said that some men refuse to be led by a woman.
“When I started driving taxis in Lagos, all the men canceled their trips when I arrived to pick them up,” Ms Lawal said.
“Lagos is a bit tricky and you have to be very strong to drive in the city. The guys think I don’t have the strength. I have to convince them to get in the car,” she added.
The Caribou Digital study also found that many women who use digital platforms to earn a living worry about their safety.
“Many of the women we spoke to said they had been sexually harassed while riding in taxis,” researcher Grace Nataballo told the BBC.
“While governments are encouraging young women to do this work, they should acknowledge the flip side – that there are risks and they need to be taken seriously by police and government services,” she said.
But Ms. Lawal said the positives outweighed the negatives.
“Earning a living is important, but I also want to contribute to the broader economy by paying taxes. I want to grow and grow Nigeria’s economy,” she said.
- you can listenover here(in English) The three women tell their stories to Sam Fenwick.