In 2020, the world had to learn to work from home. Across Africa, in various sectors, people have had to surmount learning curves and adjust to a way of life many thought to be years in the future. At Tech Cabal we wanted to show Africans thriving as they work remotely. So, from online therapy to ‘WhatsApp High School’, here are stories of Africans living in the new normal.

Our subject for today is Halima, a fashion designer from Tanzania. For her, the anxiety that followed the lockdown took a different form, her dresses were suddenly not things people considered necessary anymore.

But I’ll let her tell it in her own words.

You know people see fashion as a luxury and so when the pandemic hit, people just weren’t interested in buying clothes. Everybody was focused on buying basic things like food and water.

One of the first things I remember doing was switching to making facemasks but those could only sell for about $1 – and that’s not a lot of money.

Halima (Tanzania)

With many businesses that ran physical stores before the pandemic, the logical solution was to move online. Fashion shows seemed like the hardest thing to get online, but even them transitioned.

One would argue that there are many solutions that allow for a smooth transition to becoming an online business, but in a society where people don’t quite trust online shopping, these solutions have their limits.

I had a very nice physical store. People could come in, try on clothes and then buy. This was what they were used to. Sometimes, I would use Instagram to push my clothes but my store was where the real magic happened. But with the lockdown, people couldn’t buy clothes from my store even if they wanted to.

So I built a website and started using more social media outlets. Then there was a second issue, people didn’t want to buy clothes from the website or through my social media because they didn’t trust online shopping.

Halima (Tanzania)

Looking towards 2020, the e-commerce market in Africa was projected to reach up to $27 billion. This showed that people were starting to shop online more. And while local e-commerce platforms were part of this growth, Africans are now even being presented with new ways to shop around the world.

Despite this apparent growth in the world of online shopping, many local retailers still face the arduous task of convincing potential customers that shopping with them online is not a risky affair.

It’s been tasking but slowly people are buying more and I am even selling to people outside of the country.

Personally, I quite enjoy being online because it’s just a lot easier. I am constantly tweaking my business model and have an online community of business people like me where we share ideas on ways to grow.

Halima (Tanzania)

Editor’s note: We would like to hear more of your stories, so please fill this form and let us know your experience with tech in the new normal.

Edwin Madu | Author