Unemployed women turning side hustles into careers

The repeated COVID lockdowns have seen thousands of New Zealanders lose their jobs, with women making up the majority.

But instead of giving in to the doom and gloom, many are turning into entrepreneurs.

The economic blow of COVID-19 robbed Sherrie Moleta of her dream job.

"I lost my job as a flight attendant along with so many other people and it took a moment for me to think about what my passions were," she says.

And she's not alone, 90 percent of Kiwis who have lost their jobs amid the pandemic are women.

"Ten-thousand out of the 11,000 who are recently unemployed due to COVID are women," says Sarah Colcord.

Colcord is the founder of Chooice, a Facebook page promoting local businesses.

She says 80 percent of those using her page are women like Moleta who've lost their roles in sectors like tourism and hospitality.

But she says they're rising to the challenge, starting their businesses. Business consultant Jada MacFie agrees.

She helps connect entrepreneurs with mentors through Manaaki.

"Its just evidence that we will keep everything going and do everything we can to keep our families safe and well and thriving," says MacFie.

Now grounded, Moleta turned what was a side hustle into her new job. She started Messy Bun and works as a hairstylist for special occasions.

"Any chance to be part of someone's big day is amazing for me," she says.

Moleta says connecting with the Chooice Facebook page has seen her bookings skyrocket.

She's encouraging more women to trust in their skills and venture out on their own.

"If you've got a skill you feel that you're good at, I'd say go for it."

Proving COVID is no match for wahine toa of New Zealand.