HOW ENTREPRENEURS IN SIERRA LEONE ARE SUPPORTING COMMUNITIES THROUGH COVID-19
April 23, 2020
The last few weeks have been horrific for most countries in the world, somewhat likened to a scene from a scientific thriller. The only difference is that the director is no longer in charge of the plot and no one knows what the future may bring.
Sierra Leone has not been left behind, we are all affected by this tragedy, communities, individuals, organisations and businesses. Large projects have been put on hold, big celebrations cancelled and major events postponed! But behind the scenes, a few people have been able to rise above fear and launch into action. While we realise that other people with the best of intentions might have wanted to support others, we cannot help but shine a light on these inspiring humans who are leading through adversity. Some entrepreneurs have created new solutions while other businesses have adapted their products and services to suit the needs of individuals and communities during COVID-19. While we go through this pandemic, we are encouraged to adapt our lifestyle and shopping habits to inculcate empathy, kindness and lots of love.
WI YON BOKIT
Mobile: 00 232 79 407 000
‘Wi Yon Bokit’ is a Sierra Leonean made initiative from Girlz Empowered Limited, with a view to promote safe Hygiene practices in Sierra Leone.
It was launched a few weeks ago and it has been endorsed by The Director General for the Sierra Leone Local Content Agency’ The ‘Wi Yon Bokit’ Initiative is not for profit, therefore it is sold at the barest minimum price.
Diaka Koroma the founder and Chief Executive officer of the Girlz Empowered Limited believes that if we are telling people to wash their hands, we need to make the products available to all Sierra Leoneans.
Their last word to Sierra Leoneans: ” Fambul, nor forget for #staysafe at this time. Buy Wi Yon Bokit for you family, you padi or wok man den or even you neba way nor get n leh we all continue for was we an”.
Sanitol – Made in Sierra Leone by G Shankerdas PLC
Mobile (Watsapp):+ 60 12- 408 4655
Address: 5 Krootown Road, Freetown
As fears surrounding the pandemic increased, people struggled for information on possible preventative measures. The need for sanitisers has increased as The World Health Organisation and partners call for better hand hygiene practices. In Sierra Leone, sanitisers became scarce and in other cases it was reported that the prices surged.
A household name in manufacturing in Sierra Leone – G Shankerdas rushed to the rescue to produce a 100% wholly Sierra Leone made hand sanitizer called #Sanitol. At 60,000 Leones you can purchase a 500ml bottle from 5 Krootown Road, Freetown. This has triggered other companies to do the same, which has reduced the demand.
Unimax SL Ltd
Mobile: 00 232 79 608444 00 232 79 311311
Address: 48 Wellington Street , Freetown Sierra Leone Website: www.unimax-sl.com Email: email@example.com
Nearly a decade ago, UNIMAX was born out of the frustration to provide an efficient and fast delivery service within Sierra Leone especially its main capital city – Freetown.
They quickly expanded in the logistics industry creating a uniquely efficient corporate company. UNIMAX SL LTD has played a huge role in filling the gap that existed in local courier delivery service system. Unimax being local was able to navigate through challenges mostly due to bad roads, heavy traffic, and poor internet. Their clients have grown to rely on their competitive pricing and good communication proffered by them. The Founder, Ms. Fatima Sesay says they have grown to understand their clients’ needs and are providing the highest standards of service in fulfilling their requirements. With strategic partners in Ghana, Monrovia, and Nigeria, and represent DHL Global Freight Ghana in Sierra Leone. They have a comprehensive range of services: 1. Clearing and Forwarding (Import, Export, Customs Brokerage) 2. Delivery and Dispatch (Monthly messenger service, door to door delivery) 3. Haulage, Transportation and Distribution 4. Moving, Packing and Relocation.
When COVID-19 struck it propelled Unimax into action for they have a strong commitment to provide seamless, reliable and effective service for their clients. As expected, they are have adapted their services to include personal shopping in open markets, pharmacies and the like. This makes it easy for people in vulnerable groups to access the market, restaurants, shops and other points of sales. It’s quite worthy to note that UNIMAX has also partnered with other businesses to aid delivery of their products. It’s always a thrill when businesses come together for the good of all.
Mobile: 00 232 77413684 00 232 75 011382
Isatu Bundu is an entrepreneur with a professional experience in information, communication, fundraising and marketing. An Alumni of the Tony Elumelu Foundation 2019. She is the founder and CEO of Tesmaraneh, an ethical clothing brand that specializes in producing women’s clothing and bags. Isatu aims to develop the textile industry and create awareness of Sierra Leonean culture and fashion. Her goal is to empower and mentor artisans, tailors and up-skill young women.
At the onset of this pandemic, she figured that small businesses would be greatly affected and so she came up with what’s usually called a life-boat strategy to help keep her business afloat.
Secondly she wanted to do her bit in eradicating this virus by keeping people away from the crowd, by providing them with what’s needed in fighting COVID-19.
Thirdly, Isatu wants to raise funds that she will give back to the community. When people buy their hygiene products they will be able to donate to the teen girls at The Peagie Woobay Scholarship Fund for girls. They have made it possible for people to buy products and donate them directly to whatever organization or companies they prefer.
Lastly she has created a vehicle of support that made it possible for people who are not based in Sierra Leone to help in safe-guarding their families from this virus. They have had a lot of orders from overseas, as people order for their families. In solving these problems Tesmaraneh has made her debut into the health and wellness Industry by creating customized packs. They contain hygiene products and facemasks to keep people safe; fresh vegetables, fruits and vitamins that will build up the immune system.
Queens Wear is not your usual fashion house rather it’s a collaborative project owned by 4 young women, all former beauty queens who have decided to spread their love for fashion and make women look good for less.
The overall vision for Josephine Kamara, Madonna Garber, Salisha Conteh and Salamatu Bah is to provide sustainable employment for young women The beauty queens were curious as to how they would help end the spread of Corona. That was when they heard stories about how countries are conquering #COVID19 by just wearing face masks when moving around crowded spaces.
Usually Surgical masks come highly recommended to be used for a short period only, mostly every 2 hours or when it is dampened. In other words, it is not reusable. In this case, Homemade face mask is recommended but we need to get it right for it to be more helpful than harmful.
Queens Wear went on to produce a two sided fabric homemade reusable mask. The inside is made up of FLANNEL which is very much effective in preventing dust and bacteria from entering the nostrils, it also has 3 folds at the side that creates allowance for the nose and for the wearer to breathe well.
When you buy masks in bulk from them, it gives the queens the opportunity to produce more and give freely to girls and health workers in need of face masks.
The Queens are on a mission to #MaskSalone, currently they are taking orders in bulk to help offices and communities stay safe. They would like you to remember that wearing a mask should be combined with frequent hand-washing. The resuable mask must be washed and dried properly.
JNAP Ventures/Yak Jones Foundation
Contact information: 030218336/079121480
JNAP Ventures is a business that provides extra curricular activities for kids and Yak Jones Foundation is working to promote the reading culture in Sierra Leone especially among children. Their combined goals of supporting children’s development through playing and learning inspired them to design a means of helping children and parents during this difficult time.
Given restrictions in gathering and movement, this two organisations came up with a couple of online Book Clubs based on the ages of the children. They engage the kids and parents on WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. They are exploring options to expand to radio.
This collaboration realised the fact that this is a difficult period for both parents and children. They are providing a medium to keep children’s minds active while increasing their literacy skills, general knowledge and creativity. They believe that through reading and lively engagement bouts of boredom are greatly reduced.
They are living up to their mottos of “Building An Exciting Brighter World” –JNAP Ventures and “We Read to Change Lives” — Yak Jones Foundation. They would like to be described as a partnership that brings smiles to kids, confidence to parents, collectively contributing to the development of children.
Contact: Ranya Kahota Kargbo, Regional Human Resources Manager, UNICEF/ Owner Sahara Ventures SL.
Mobile: +232 88 175292 / +232 76 989 200
After the first case of COVID-19 on Tuesday 31st March 2020 , Ranya Kahota Kargbo called on Isatu Harrison of IZELIA to join forces to raise funds and make double layered, reusable, fashionable, cloth masks to distribute freely to the poor and vulnerable in Sierra Leone. The #MaskUpSierraLeone Campaign has now increased to four (4) people with Ansu Dukuray and Myk Berewa joining the team.
Since Then #MaskUpSierraLeone campaign has:
Raised money to produce tens of thousands of beautiful, layered, reusable, cloth masks and distribute freely all over Sierra Leone, to the poor and vulnerable communities, including, areas that are overcrowded, where social distancing is a luxury. The masks are designed by IZELIA Fashion and produced locally under a supervised, sanitised environment, promoting “local content”; “Made in Sierra Leone”.
2. Recorded Public Service Announcements in various languages in Sierra Leone and broadcasts them frequently. These sensitization messages encourages everyone to wash hands practice social distancing as much as possible, stay home, “wear masks”, as a public health measure to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
#MaskUpSierraLeone has been on local news channels and print, on BBC and social media platforms with their messages.
3. They are influencing policy. By becoming a catalyst to the Government of Sierra Leone to mandate the wearing of Masks across the country and provide financial support to make these masks and distribute to its citizens. In doing so, they are serving ordinary citizens and providing opportunities of employment to the cloth sellers, tailors, seamstresses, distributors, youth and many who are involved in this process.
As a team of 4 young Sierra Leoneans who came together to mobilize the grassroots, the world and Government to #MaskUpSierraLeone, they hope to continue to make a difference and support the entire nation in the fight to stop the spread of Covid-19.
Have you adapted your business to meet the needs of COVID-19? Are you doing something unusual that promotes cohesiveness, a good mental health balance for communities during COVID-19 , then reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org , for you deserve the spotlight!