‘Jugaad’ & luck: How some biz breasted the Covid wave | Bhubaneswar News

BHUBANESWAR: Amid the restrictions of the lockdwn, many businesses went belly-up. But there were many others that tried to turn an adversity into opportunity.
Namita Mandal, who used to earn a living by working as a domestic help in four houses, suddenly became jobless after the lockdown was announced in March-end last year. With her savings diminishing rapidly, she thought of using her limited tailoring skills to make masks.
“All of a sudden, masks became the most important safeguard against Covid-19. I saw an opportunity in making and selling masks and in the past one year, I have sold masks worth Rs 1 lakh,” she said. What started out as a one-woman enterprise in her shanty now employs two other women of the locality.
Increased demand for masks not only saved lives but livelihoods. “We never imagined that the demand of masks will increase so much and that the government will make them mandatory. We decided to stop production of other items like bags, and concentrated on making masks,” said Ajay Kumar Das, a mask producer in Jagatpur in Cuttack district.
The making and sale of sanitisers also saved many businesses from going under. “After the government announced lockdown, I was at my wit’s end. A friend of mine gave me the idea of making sanitiser and it worked!” said Bidyadhara Behera, an auto-rickshaw driver and the sole bread-winner for a family of five.
When students were confined to their homes, some used their knowledge to bridge the gap with online tuitions. “I could not attend the library. I started taking online tuitions for two hours a day. With this, I not only made the best use of my time and skill, I earned good money,” said Mahesh Kumar, a civil service aspirant.
The fear of public transport created a sudden spike in the demand for bicycles. “We sold more cycles in 2020 than in 2019,” said Nihar Mullick, owner of Track and Trail Riders Point, a cycle store in Patia.
The pandemic also brought about a new work culture. “As the home turned into the office and school, we saw a spike in the sale of computer devices and accessories. Sales increased by 20 to 30%,” said Dibyajyoti Patnaik, an appliances shop owner.

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