The word momtrepreneur is not a new term but the pandemic of 2020 is making this term a reality for many working, single mothers. Before the pandemic, you were all waving goodbye to your kids as they headed out for school and you headed for work, but that has completely changed.

In this week’s installment of Our Stories, we will open the curtains to the everyday life of a single mother, an entrepreneur, and how she created her own income security in the pandemic.

Meet Javeila Bryan – A Mother Of A Special Needs Boy; A Momtrepreneur & Overcomer

Javeila and her son, Reuben

Javeila, lovingly known as Jazzel, resides in St. Catherine and is a single mother to a nine-year-old Reuben who was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at the tender age of 9 months. Now at the age of 9 years, having defied the laws of medicine, Reuben is very active, intelligent, and jovial with a serious sense of humor. Jazzel recounts how blessed she feels having her son covid-19 free and doing better than expected in academics.

Jazzel has always been contented. She is a customer service professional, who is always contented with food on her table and all bills paid. Like many of us, after the pandemic hit, things took a turn for the worst. No longer able to survive on one source of income, Jazzel took it upon herself to create multiple sources of income. Below is Jazzel’s story of navigating covid-19. Can you relate?

You’re the mother of a special needs child, would you describe your life as challenging?

Well for me, life has always had its challenges. My life became more difficult when I found out I was pregnant, which was at a very young age. Being a young mother of a special needs child comes with its own set of difficulties, as you can imagine, but God has always been good. There have been many times where financially, I just couldn’t help myself and my son, but I am a young. working, faithful and praying woman, so it always works out.

Can you tell us a little more about the financial difficulties that you faced being a single mother?

Ok, well, as I mentioned before I got impregnated at a very young age. I was turned out of my family home but luckily, I didn’t become homeless. I received assistance from Reuben’s father as well as my trusted friends. After Reuben was born, I started working at Sutherland Global Services (SGS) full-time, as a Customer Service Representative. The salary was good enough to take care of basic needs, send my son to school, take him to his appointments, take care of myself and save a little.

After some time, it started to get difficult to “stop a gap” with the salary from SGS. The baby’s medical bills were increasing and my salary could not match them. In addition, I later lost my job at SGS.  So, to continue to try to make ends meet, I took odd jobs, even cleaning up garbage on the street, to put food on the table for myself and my son.

There are many days where my tears would just stream down my face as I felt like giving up. I only have my high school diploma, as well as certification in phlebotomy, but I still was not able to find a job. You would think there are many call centers I would be able to apply to, but at the end of the day, the dollars have to make sense so I couldn’t just take anything.  “Hand to mouth” was literally what I was living by.

Was the “hand to mouth” situation the case when you were employed as it became when you lost your full-time job?

Yes lol! It was the same hand-to-mouth situation working full-time. The difference is when I was employed, there was more in my hand to go into my mouth. When I became unemployed my hands became lighter, so there was less going into the mouth.

There is no job security in a full-time job, especially at call centers. They kick you out faster than they took you in. As you slip, you slide. To tell the truth, the many odd jobs began to give me an appreciation of having more than one source of income, but it still was not enough at the time.

How have you managed to survive financially through Covid-19?

That is a loaded question, are you sure you have the time to listen to my story lol? My story is one that speaks resilience, in my opinion. Before the pandemic, I started working from home. The pay was good starting out. It began stopping a gap again. In addition, I was working from home so that gave me more time with my son, and less overhead costs such as commuting.

When the pandemic hit, I was fortunate now that I am looking at it. People were losing their jobs, left, right and center. I still had my difficulties because I had so many debts to pay off. I wasn’t seeing much of the little I was earning. What also caught my attention was the fact that a friend of mine, who had a 9-5, with pension and other benefits, was now unemployed. It made me realize that job security really isn’t a thing, making money work for you like Barita says, was the only way to survive. It became necessary. So, because I was no longer willing to suffer from hunger or beg, I started researching. I found an online marketplace where I could use my skills, be my own boss, and set my own schedule, like a real CEO.

You said previously that you made your money work for you. Please explain how you did that.

Great question, so let me tell you. I came upon Fiverr, read, signed up, and after a few weeks, I got some sales and reviews that drove more sales. Girl was making money! But I still wanted more because honestly, making the money is sweet but spending it made me scared. Money goes fast. Anyway, I consider myself a little hustler, so I did Fiverr while still doing my full-time job working from home. The money I made from Fiverr, I used that to participate in partner plans and also invested in a round-robin.

I found myself exhausted because every week I was shelling out money for these things. I must admit, I now accept the fact that it takes money to make money,  so I stood with my cause and, then boom! I had money. Who sweet like me? lol! I got my partner draw and my round in the round-robin. I still didn’t spend it all. You know the bills have to be taken care of but I reinvested the money. I even started charging interest on the money I loaned to family and friends to make money and keep money in my pocket. It didn’t take a business plan, it just took some research, creativity, and gut. I am thinking of buying stocks soon, but let me take it a step at a time so I can make informed decisions.

You found ways to make more money in covid -19, so would you consider yourself an entrepreneur?

No, I am a momtrepeneur! I can say covid-19 tested certain boundaries and I rose to the occasion. I don’t have a degree, though I will definitely be pursuing one, but that did not stop me from creating multiple streams of income and I believe it has taught me a very important lesson that there is no security in having one stream of income, even if it pays wells. If it does pay well, invest some and let it work for you instead of just working and spending.

I also learnt that entrepreneurship is sophisticated hustling. It is  about increasing your income streams that will increase your income security. There is always security in having more. What I will be doing as well is investing in myself because I believe the better, I am, the more creative I can be making money. What I did is not new to many people, but what I didn’t do is jump in and then jump out when I got the returns, I continually invested and found more ways to flip the dollar into dollars. For me, that is what I see as entrepreneurship.

I learnt of the term term “momtrepreneur” and I think it suits me because I have created multiple streams of income for myself and I am looking to do more. This pandemic has taught me one thing and that is there is always a way, as long as there is the will. The fuel that drove my willpower is necessity. I could not afford to be broke in the pandemic. It became necessary for me to find ways to make money and then I did more and found other ways to make money work for me.

I would advise everyone to find a side hustle. Not all of us will become business owners, but entrepreneurship isn’t about owning a business. It is about creating income opportunities.

As an entrepreneur, you stated that income security is very important. What is the advice you have for other entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs?

My advice is that if you are working a full-time job, use that money and hustle something; something that works for you. For full-time entrepreneurs, do it and do it believing it will work, not with the mentality for fast money but for sure money and opportunities to diversify and make more money. We are transitioning as a society, so with the pandemic or not, one income is not secure. Get with the times or get left behind. The best security you have is you and the income you can create for yourself.

Thanks for sharing your story Javeila, and all the best in your endeavors!