The Coronavirus has shaken a lot of things with a lot of lives lost, and families left in tears. Because of the pandemic, the economy has also been hit. Different economic activities like banking, marketing, production, sports, and entertainment have all been affected.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many countries instituted lockdowns which meant that many activities were put on hold. The only ones that remained active were those deemed as essential. Take for an instance, medical services, shopping centers like markets and supermarkets and a few others.
With majority of businesses being closed, many have lost their jobs but most importantly, activities like entertainment events, sports, launches, conferences among others were also closed which created a ripple effect on the gig economy.
The gig economy is constituted by so many people forexample you have Dee jays, Social media influencers, Uber drivers, bloggers, photographers among many others. I managed to talk to a few who are in the industry and particularly social media and Deejaying and they shared some of their thoughts;
How has coronavirus affected the gig economy?
Melvin Kiyimba, a Multimedia Manager and music enthusiast says that, “The gig economy has always been subject to the winds of change, which is why the downturn caused by COVID19 towards most activities was only a matter of time before it affected the gig economy.”
One wonders how much, and for how long the coronavirus is going to affect the gig economy community because for some, this is their major source of income.
While speaking to Pesh Ahumuza, a digital media influencer, she said that normally where she would have been paid UGX 300,000 for an activity, she is now being paid UGX 150,000 which is a huge decline.
“With the cancellation of events & conferences due to the restrictions on public gatherings, holes have been drilled in the pockets. Marketing budgets have also been cut or redirected.” – says Jude Mugabi founder and team leader at Fast Lane Media
This already he believes is going to cause a major storm in the gig economy and could render very many youth cashless in the near future.
Considering that the World Health Organisation strongly advises that social distancing is exercised, the government of Uganda might want these measures to continue forward which could see a lot of conferences not happen any time soon.
For Bernard Olupot aka Beewol, besides the money that has been lost because of the lockdown, there is the big issue of networking that helps most gig economy members to find new opportunities and clients.
“Prior to this whole lockdown, there were several events slated to take place. And it is from these events that many gigsters (myself included) were planning to earn some money. Now those have been called off. Naturally, it sets everybody back. Also, there is the small matter of networking. The gig economy is very dependent on referrals, networking and basically moving around to connect and share opportunities. With the lockdown, this is not entirely easy to do.” – says Beewol.
With expected economic recessions, companies are expected to make budget cuts which might mean a reduction in gigs and also payments for people.
Mr Derekford Desire Mugumisa, the Public Relations and Communications officer at Next Media says that, “many companies will hold onto the little they have right now due to the uncertainty of the current situation, not necessarily about the ability to make a gain but about how long this could take.”
This alone is an indication of what is expected to happen in the future and with companies making such cuts, paychecks for gigsters as Beewol calls them could either be deemed surplus to requirement or few will be needed as compared to many.
Is there hope for Gig Economy after Lockdown?
The big worry for many gigsters at the moment is that after the lockdown and coronavirus, they might have jobs or opportunities considering how hard it was earlier to convince companies the importance of their services. But some of the members in the gig economy I managed to speak to have some hope.
Melvin and Beewol believe that there could be massive opportunities for gigsters but only if they work towards getting better in their crafts and offer a lot more than they are currently offering.
“Since most, if not all operations are now online, it gives people who thrive on the internet opportunity to take up center stage. And this is where the opportunities are for those of us in the gig economy. Identify the problem, offer a solution and present yourself as a person who can help drive a client in the right direction.” notes Beewol.
Melvin foresees a boom in the need for gigsters to sell products as the more effective way as the usual out of home marketing will be reduced significantly. But he also notes this is dependent on the culture of the business and their overall digital strategy.
Jagen Julius, a co-founder of the Almost Famous Entertainment group believes that the lockdown has already presented opportunities for Deejays citing how Dj Aluda has a show on Instagram where he is hosting celebrities. Deejays are now embracing the internet to upload their work through which their clientele continues to party.
For the Uber drivers, Safe Bodas, Taxify and Little Cab, I foresee an even greater market for them as many clients will want to avoid the use of public transport systems as a way of avoiding congestion and the risk of getting infected by COVID-19.
What should members of the gig economy do in order to survive after lock down?
Just like life, there is always going to be need to change or adapt to change. Unfortunately for many, change is coming regardless whether they want to accept it or not. So, what exactly should the members of the gig economy do to adapt to the inevitable change?
Beewol encourages his fellow members to read more, research but most importantly, get to acquire new skills. “Equip yourself with as much information as possible”, he emphasizes.
Mr. Wandera Estone (Estone Thinks) encourages many to acquire skills “Acquire and learn new skills that will make you stand out always, put out the YOLO mentality and learn to save some money, today it could be COVID19 ,tomorrow you could be knocked on the boda and you can’t do anything”
Mr. Wandera is also very keen on reminding fellow gig economy members the importance of saving and investing in other activities or ventures.
With expectation of some CEO’s and companies coming to the realities of how essential people in their companies are, Derekford Mugumisa expects certain jobs to trickle down to gig economy and advises that they should be very inventive.
“There is a tide that is coming where we are migrating from looking at vanity metrics (likes, shares and comments) and looking at conversions instead, and since many gained followers using follow trains… they don’t have much in the sense of potential customers. Coupled with advances in more specific targeting (Geographical, age and so on) it is going to be a whole new world that many won’t be able to keep up with” – says Melvin.
“I advise those in the gig economy to read more, learn more, keep up with the trends and try to get as much knowledge about the business you’re in and how it functions, and also be willing to change and improve based on that information.”– advises Melvin.
While advising the music enthusiasts, Mr. Kiyimba Melvin says, “As for the DJs, it is time to find other ways to make money. Whether it is mixcloud select, selling merchandise or making music or monetizing your following for targeted ads. It is time to change and diversify beyond simply playing the music.”
“Also, it is time to look into performance deejaying especially in this Corona time. Simply playing the music on IG live will not keep the audience interested. It is time to become entertainers because now we are speaking to one person in a room and not feeding off collective energy in public”, he concluded.
Author: Moses Echodu
Moses is a freelance writer for Newslibre and Programs Manager at the Craft Silicon Foundation. He loves writing about sports, politics and news around the globe and Inspiring new young people!!