Thiès in the Time of COVID-19

 Face-masks: a new business opportunity

Jean Paul used to work as a supervisor for L-IFT in Senegal and now again works part-time for L-IFT coordinating The Corner Shop project in Senegal. He informed us that in Thiès, 70 km east of Dakar, people had started to make and/or sell face-masks in addition to their usual trade. For instance, he recently bought a mask that his cobbler had made. It is interesting to see how fast small businesses adjust to the changing demands.

Like most countries, Senegal imposed safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19:

– people are asked to stay at home as much as possible;

– schools, mosques, and churches have been closed for about a month;

– the number of passengers in public transport is limited and motorbike taxis are no longer allowed;

– people cannot move from one city to another;

– an 8 pm to 6 am curfew has been imposed.

However, markets remain open, and street vendors and door-to-door salesmen are still allowed to move around.

According to Jean Paul, so far prices haven’t gone up and there hasn’t been any kind of shortage (except for hand sanitizer).

A limited number of customers are allowed at the same time inside supermarkets, so it’s become common to see people wait in line to get in.

People are encouraged to use mobile money and some mobile money providers have eliminated commission fees on certain transactions to do so. However, many transactions in markets or on the street cannot go through that kind of payment method. Therefore, many people are still using cash.

Using cash to pay on the streets

In order to help the population, the government is guaranteeing

– food assistance to the most vulnerable citizens;

– free medical care for COVID19 patients.

Financial institutions were also asked to grant payment deferrals to their customers.

Thiès in the Time of COVID-19

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