By Ben Garcia

KUWAIT: E-commerce thrived during the pandemic, and became a source of much-needed revenues for many individuals. Online seller Melito Alcantara's posts on Facebook generate a steady flow of income. "I started selling food on Facebook during the pandemic. People at that time were into online transactions, so I joined a group of Filipinos who are in this business," he said.

Alcantara started by posting some of his dishes on his personal account, and eventually started posting on groups and community pages. "Whatever products are available, I post about them. Normally it starts with inquiries, then I get one or two orders, until it generates regular customers," he added. Since Alcantara doesn't have a car of his own, he only takes orders near his home in Salmiya. "I only entertain customers near my home. I started by delivering on foot, but now I have a bicycle to deliver orders. This way I am reaching out to many customers," he said.

Another online seller Elite Salenga took advantage of free live posting on both TikTok and Facebook. During the pandemic, she lost her part-time job in a school and another side job selling houses and condominiums in the Philippines. "Before the pandemic, these jobs provided a very lucrative extra income and helped me and my children a lot. But I lost all those jobs because school canteens were closed and sales of houses and condominiums declined," she said.

Salenga joined forces with another Filipina to sell stuff online - from food to items of everyday use for Filipinos such as clothes and home appliances. During the strict lockdowns and curfews during the pandemic, her company provided her with only 10 days of salary in a month, which was barely enough to survive. "I told myself I cannot help my kids who are all depending on me if I do not do anything," she said. Salenga is a widow with five children. "I sell almost everything, even lightly-used items and secondhand products. This online business is giving me a better quality of life," she added.

There are several advantages to selling online, including the ability to manage the business from anywhere, and ease of access for customers who can visit a website or social media account to find out about the available products and services.