Entrepreneurs Who Reinvent in the Pandemic

Tania Monge junto a su socio —que tenía un taller textil que estaba a punto de cerrar— decidieron iniciar el emprendimiento de confección de mascarillas. Cortesia | Confidencial

A pesar de la crisis económica que muchos negocios atraviesan, algunas mujeres encontraron una oportunidad para expandir o renovar sus emprendimientos

By Nayira Valenzuela  (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – Covid-19 has wreaked economic havoc on Nicaraguan businesses. However, there are women entrepreneurs who found an opportunity to expand their businesses. Others changed to making something else, thus making a living in the midst of the pandemic.

Maria Eugenia Mayorga, president of the Nicaraguan Businesswomen’s Network (REN), points out that in the latest survey with 200 of their members, 20% claim to have closed their businesses since the arrival of the pandemic.

“The tourism, leather and footwear, clothing and jewelry businesses had a drop of 80% in their sales, everything that is not a basic or primary necessity are the most affected sectors,” says Mayorga.

From Bakery to a mask-making workshop

Around 15% of the businesswomen have changed business, such is the case of Tania Monge. The architect was laid off in 2018 and started the “Yelly Yummy” gelatin dessert venture with 20 dollars. Demand increased rapidly, until last March she stopped preparing desserts for fear of contagion with Covid-19.

A month later, together with her partner who had a textile workshop about to close, she started a new business. They make masks, currently a high demand item. Now they generate a source of work for 18 artisans, who produce between 1600 to 2,800 masks per week.

“We saw this opportunity because prices skyrocketed. We wanted to make masks that meet all the standards mandated by the World Health Organization. Above all that they could be at a more accessible price, so we all take care of ourselves,” Monge explained.

This way of generating income gave her the opportunity to envision her first venture in something bigger and better planned. Now she has created new recipes and plans to turn her old bakery business 180 degrees.

“I work more and in places where I didn’t imagine”

Not all businesswomen have had to change their line of work. Some like Yettie Maria Osorio, 32, simply adapted to new technologies and the new way of working at home.

Yettie Osorio set up her living room to teach CrossFit classes online. Nayira Valenzuela / Confidencial

Osorio is a computer engineer and found her passion in the sport of CrossFit. With the arrival of the first case of Covid in Nicaragua, last March, she made several changes. Professional weights for water containers, the ample space of the gym for a chair and a towel on the floor of her living room. The gym where she worked was temporarily closed.

Osorio has been a CrossFit instructor for four years, her workday began at five in the morning, with classes interspersed, until seven at night. Now from her living room she teaches online classes to about 60 students per day. Despite being a computer engineer, it never crossed her mind that her job would depend on technology.

The venture began with a telephone and a towel on the floor. Now with the demand for classes and the increase in her earnings, she invested in a computer. She also purchased LED ring lights, a blackboard, and greater internet speed. She reaches out to Nicaraguan students who left due to the socio-political crisis to Miami, Guatemala and Panama.

“Those who started looking for me were those who did not leave their home., People who have no other way to move, people with obesity who are embarrassed to enter a gym,” Osorio stressed.

Changing business dynamics

Other women invested in creating a website and social network profiles, changing the dynamics of attending to making home deliveries. Such is the case of the “Las Piros” venture. They reorganized their social networks and created a bank account for receiving transfers, before everything was in cash.

The “Las Piros” venture has changed the dynamics of customer service. Now they only serve to take out or by delivery. Courtesy / Confidencial

The business is owned by Elena Piroboba, a Belarusian national, and her Nicaraguan daughter Ana Bermudez, who has a degree in marketing and in 2018 studied for a culinary arts diploma in Lima, Peru.

They started out in January with a capital of 200 dollars and three tables to serve breakfast and lunch. They offered a mixture of European, Peruvian and Nicaraguan seasoning. The dynamic consisted of publishing the menu on social networks, on Monday, and customers had until Thursday to make reservations. Food was served only on Saturdays.

Piroboba traveled to Mexico last March, but with the closure of airports due to the pandemic, she was stranded there. The business was closed for a month and a half, between March and April, but was reopened due to the need to pay “bills in Nicaragua and living expenses in Mexico,” said Bermudez.

She adds that with the pandemic “the tables, cutlery and table plates became take-out packaging, disposable cutlery and masks. We have turned the business around.” Only take outs and delivery are served.

“Being much more active in the networks has been my key. In self-quarantine people spend time on their cellphones and that is why now I have new clients. I share recipes and show myself on social media,” she said.