by Elsa Figueiredo Tchikanha
Due to the financial crisis the country is facing as a result of the fall in oil prices, and more recently the Covid-19 pandemic, part of the strategy of companies to avoid bankruptcy and remain competitive is to reduce costs, among which are lay-offs. The layoffs have been throwing a significant number of people into unemployment, and thus many women have no choice but to become entrepreneurs and start small businesses, from catering to personal shoppers and influencers.
We are all currently living in hard times with no end in sight any time soon, and as a result we are all forced to stick to our resilient nature more than ever. When it comes to women and resilience, the zungueiras and women in the corporate world always come to mind. The zungueiras, for instance, are street vendors who sell a variety of products walking from neighbourhood to neighbourhood, shouting out what it is that they are selling in a very creative and cheerful manner, under the African sun, most carrying their babies on their backs, secured by a cloth, whilst carrying another in their arms and sometimes in their bellies as well.
Zungueiras work an average of five to seven days a week under the above-mentioned conditions, whilst trying to evade inspectors who sometimes confiscate or simply destroy their products, thus significantly reducing their familys’ income and / or leaving a family without their single meal of the day. In the corporate world, I watch every day how women conquer their space, achieving positions of leadership and inspiring other women to do more and better because they (we) are capable, they (we) are resilient.
Although their combat front is completely different, and many come from different backgrounds, women in the corporate world and zungueiras have a lot in common. A significant number, if not most of these women, are either single mothers or sole providers who wake up every day to ensure their children are well taken care of, wear their combat gear and leave their homes for another day of work. And when employment hits the home of corporate women, entrepreneurship is the next step, because not having an income is simply not an option.