Nigerian's Maya Horgan Famodu, founder of 'Ingressive', a market entry and market operations firm, speaks as she takes part in the first Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) West Africa Regional Summit to be held in Abidjan on April 17, 2019. (Photo by ISSOUF SANOGO / AFP)

By Dumisani Sigogo

As the recession tightens its grasp on communities in the wake of Covid-19 induced job losses, women in Africa, who are the most affected have been encouraged to take up e-commerce driven, social media direct selling and marketing initiatives as new ways to earn an income to sustain their families.

According to the latest unemployment statistics released by Stats South Africa, women accounted for a disproportionate share of job losses resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic and made up 2 of the three million people who lost their jobs at the beginning of the year. This scenario painted an ominous and gloomy picture for millions of female headed households who are facing the depressing prospects of impoverishment due to loss of income.

In order to empower the African women who are already disadvantaged in the labour market, global beauty and personal care company Avon has stepped in to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 job losses by offering prospective Sales Representatives who wish to supplement their income an opportunity to open their own online stores and participate in the booming e-commerce industry.

“Being a company for women, Avon is cognisant of the struggle women face as the sole caregivers and the far-reaching impact this pandemic has had on their ability to take care of their families. In line with our brand promise to support HER, Avon will ramp up its recruitment drive to offer women, who are the primary drivers of the cosmetics and personal care industry, the opportunity to reap the benefits of the growth of this industry which has largely bucked the trend and continues to show steady growth. By empowering women with this earnings opportunity, we are also making a meaningful contribution to giving women financial independence which in turn will free them from the clutches of their abusers,” said Mafahle Mareletse, Managing Director of Avon Justine Turkey, Middle East & Turkey.

The initiative empowers the female entrepreneurs with free online digital marketing training that also provides their micro-businesses with free digital tools and content to promote their business directly from their social media platforms.

Mareletse said Avon’s compelling intensified recruitment drive improved the earning opportunity of these independent beauty entrepreneurs by offering them affordable products across the broad spectrum of cosmetics, fashion and personal care products.

He added that the increasing penetration of the internet, coupled with rising smartphone adoption and falling data prices, if harnessed properly, the female breadwinners especially those in the informal self-employment can now earn money or supplement their extra income by selling online, and earn from the safety and comfort of their homes.

Some of the women who are selling the products hailed the advantages of operating an online store without incurring any capital outlay costs, and still earn up to 30% of the value of the products that they sell.

According to women rights activists programmes such as the Avon initiative, helped to alleviate poverty since women are still responsible for many domestic duties such as providing food during the pandemic.

In 2019, Avon’s global independent Sales Leaders, which make up 4% of the rep base, collectively earned $273.5m (about R5 billion), demonstrating the earning potential available to women in these roles.

Avon one of the biggest direct-selling company in South Africa, has been empowering Southern African women for over 20 years with opportunities to earn money and financial freedom.

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