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#COVID19 lockdown(s) unlocks potential to informal traders – care to read on?

by Stephen Jakes
13 Apr 2020 at 07:41hrs | Views
Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association director Micheal Ndiweni has said the global #COVID19 pandemic has left a trail of ramifications to persons in the informal sector due to full or partial lockdowns that have been imposed by many countries in the world curtailing or out rightly banning trading in market places. 

He said the International Labour Organisation (ILO) (2020) states that two (2) billion people work in the informal sector, mostly in emerging and developing economies and are particularly at #COVID19 induced risk.

"With around 90%  of people in the informal sector in Zimbabwe,  millions of people have lost their daily incomes as we all know most of vendors and informal traders survive on hand to mouth. In most countries street vendors, informal traders have no savings, social security schemes including our country Zimbabwe," he said. 

"Many of our members have lost their little savings will not be able to re-start their businesses after the lockdown in the recovery period. Some will not be able to pay school fees for their children. Some are struggling to access medication. A lot of them are on imposed starvation since are unable to go to the market, sell and replenish supplies after the little they bought has been exhausted."

Ndiweni said the situation is dire in many of our members and hunger and starvation is exposing many to the risk of loss of life as some live with chronic diseases.

"Our organization has not been folding hands, it has been highly involved in pushing government to introduce social grants and other short term coping mechanisms.  @Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association  does not view all these interventions sustainable. We have continue to give our members information on precautionary measures i.e social distancing albeit very difficult because our members are struggling to put meals on the table and washing hands among other practical measures," he said. 

"We call upon government to consider partially opening markets and introduce shifts for vendors and informal traders, this is must be backed by strict monitoring of WHO recommended precautionary measures. Lessons can be drawn from how Indian market places have operating with strict monitoring from health experts and law enforcement agents."

He said the lockdown presents our organization with an opportunity to self-introspect. 

"With travel embargoes being imposed even here within the SADC region, where most of our women Informal Cross Borders (ICBTs) have been cross-crossing to buy raw materials, buy and sell goods, we are motivated to summon all our ingenuity to  introduce new innovative ideas to burst the dependence on doing business  in the neighbouring countries as some previous strategies we were using might not be tenable in the foreseeable future," he said.

"We shall be unveiling new innovative initiatives/strategies that will continue to empower our membership and improve their livelihoods and household incomes.  We are buoyant in our new found energy to try new ideas and continue floating in the radical global shift. We hope social movements and civil society organizations will see this paradigm shift in doing business as an opportunity to adapt and change from the traditional ways of doings things."

Source - Byo24news

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