Self-Employed Businesses Affected by Lockdown

By Eunice Ruth and Udara Madushanka | Published: 2:00 AM Oct 20 2021
Focus Self-Employed Businesses Affected by Lockdown

By Eunice Ruth and Udara Madushanka 

Self-employed seamstresses and the demand for products have been reduced drastically among the village people due to them not having a proper market to sell their products and because of the impacts of COVID-19.

Previously, the selfemployed people of Gampaha, only stitched dresses. However, now they have started stitching bags, dolls, curtains and other items as well. The women of Gampaha District have started stitching bags as a business and currently, most villages of the district are engaged in this business. 

The women of the village have teamed up as a group and are running their business as a joint business. However, just like all other businesses, the bag business of Gampaha District has also faced a huge loss after the pandemic. 

While speaking in this regard with Hema Nandini, a resident of Pallewela, said that she is stitching bags for a long period of time, and she joined other women of the village and they are continuing this bag business for more than ten years. She noted that, they stitch all types of bags including market bags and all kinds of other bags and backpacks. 

“I have produced all kinds of bags with beautiful designs,” she added. However, in the last few days, along with reducing the usage of single use plastics and plastic bags, demand for our bags has increased. But unfortunately, due to COVID19, our business has dropped. The major reason for this is the increased price of raw materials including the material, which we have used for the manufacturing of bags. The prices of the materials have doubled up and the price of other things which we use in the production process has increased three times its actual price. “Even though the material cost increases, we had no demand for our products after the closure of schools and companies. 

The people had no need to buy bags as most of them are still continuing their work and studies from home. Most of the women who are working with us said that, even if we spend our money, time and effort to produce bags, it has no value due to less demand in the market, said Nandini. Subathra Sriyani, a resident of Mirigama, stated that we have to spend Rs. 450 to buy a meter of material in Mirigama, which is only Rs. 300 in Colombo. Currently, the price is even higher and we have to spend more than Rs. 500 to produce one bag. 

Even though we spend this much of money of producing a bag, still we are forced to give this to the market for a price of Rs. 600. Even to take that money, we have to wait till the product has been sold by the seller. But the seller sells the product with an additional income of Rs. 200 to Rs. 300. “We urge the Government to establish a market for selfemployed people to sell their products on their own, and we don’t want any compensation from the Government. We only need the support of the Government to uplift our businesses,” said Sriyani. 

A resident of Kadawatha Delgoda, Asoka Malkanthi, noted that they sold their produced bags at weekly fairs and after the COVID-19 impacts, the people who visits the fair has been reduced. She also noted that they are suffering with no income and without having a proper stall or market space to sell their own products. She requested the Government and responsible authorities to make them a market space to sell their products and she said that it will be a great help for the people who have engaged in self-employment. 

While speaking to the Chairman of Kumarasoma Foundation which was established for the welfare of the rural people and a Member of the Pradeshiya Sabha Kumarasomasinghe, said that more than COVID19 impact, the business of these people has impacted due to lack of market space for their products. In order to reduce the problems of the village people and these women, I have directed this issue to the State Minister of Rural Roads and Other Infrastructure, Nimal Lanza. We aim to resolve all the issues of the public with the involvement of public and we are planning to start a process to uplift the lives of the self-employed people.

By Eunice Ruth and Udara Madushanka | Published: 2:00 AM Oct 20 2021

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