New online business emerges as ‘runners’ strike gold

Several businesses have been seriously affected following the outbreak of the pandemic COVID-19 also known as coronavirus early this year.

The whole world was literally put on lockdown as economies try to combat the spread of the virus which has so far claimed millions of lives globally.

This did not only affect the employers but the employees as well. Jobs were lost, production reduced, salaries cut to minimize operational costs.

While others are still trying to aclamatise to the new order, some have apparently found a new business that can support them financially.

Locals who prefer to purchase goods from outside have sparked a thriving business in the southern Africa region.

WhatsApp is their trading platform.

Trading on WhatsApp is mainly being done from SouthAfrica and also Zambia , mostly by Zimbabweans residing there.

Zimbabwe has witnessed a growth in informal cross-border trading (ICBT) with neighbouring countries over the past two decades beginning in the mid-1990s when the country embarked on its Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP), a large number of people were forced into informal employment through worsening economic conditions.

Currently the country is facing an economic crisis with soaring inflation , a weak unstable local currency , a wide scale unemployment rate which has pushed an increase in the growth of the informal sector , cross border traders being amongst them.

The border between Zimbabwe and SouthAfrica was shut on March 26 following a record of 5 cases and one death in the country , the closure was an effort to take prevention measures against COVID19.

Livelihoods of Zimbabwean cross-border traders, who purchase goods in South Africa for resale in Zimbabwe were cut off by the closure.

As the trading industry and the nation are surviving with a closed border some people have actually capitalised on the situation conducting business on the popular social media platform WhatsApp.

A WhatsApp runner based in Zambia said, “ I used to buy things after getting orders but it was something small , COVID19 has actually opened other havens for me , orders have increased giving me more profits.”

“ I have a WhatsApp group were people actually place their orders , I buy the goods and send to Zimbabwe.”

“ I charge 15% runner fee on all the goods ordered someone can actually send their money to me via Mukuru”, she said .

Cross border traders have somehow find relief as runners have enable them to atleast continue with their business.

“ I started small , but i started getting more orders and capitalised on the opportunity , I’m getting bulk orders , of clothes , groceries from traders in Zimbabwe failing to travel due to lockdown restrictions .”

Im actually expanding my deliveries to various cities in the country , its both business for me and those traders stuck at home who rely mainly on cross border to sustain their families”, said A WhatsApp runner based in SouthAfrica.

Zimbabwe’s cross-border traders contribute to the country’s economy they supply goods to consumers at a low prices than in formal retail shops.

Their form of trading is actually a good source of income for them as the country economic situation continue to worsen.

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