Hundreds of street vendors from City of Kigali (CoK) last week appealed to city authorities and the Minister of Gender and Family Promotion for support to help them formalise their businesses.
The vendors, whose operations are deemed illegal, claim lack of funds leads them to indulge in this business saying they should be supported to join formal markets.
Most women and mainly young men are always found at busy street corners selling merchandise. Women carry basketfuls of fruits and vegetables while the young men and girls vend clothes and accessories.
CoK, police and gender ministry convened the meeting with the vendors at Nyamirambo Regional Stadium to collectively look for a solution to the problem of street vendors who earn so little from the hazardous work.
They said that much as markets were constructed and they are being urged to join the markets, they lack start-up capital and cannot, with the handful of merchandise they tout, make it in a market environment.
Clotilde Uwamurera, one of the street vendors said “we totally agree that we operate in a disorderly manner but we just cannot survive in a market.”
Uwamurera said she cannot afford a place in a formal market with her earnings of Rwf 2,000 a day.
Another woman, Vicencia Uwambajimana, who hawks bread from Nyabugogo Taxi Park, said everyday she spends Rwf 2,000 to buy the bread from which she gets Rwf5,00 as profit.
With this profit, she is required to meet her monthly rent of Rwf10,000 as well as providing for her two children who are currently in primary school.
“We understand our women are hard workers. That they are in business is good news. We are here to hear from them and then share with them some programmes that will help them streamline their business and grow,” said Gender minister Odda Gasinzigwa.
Gasinzigwa said they want to work collectively as government institutions to see what can be done to help these people especially by mainstreaming them into different programmes that have already been set up.
The programmes include Kuremera, which consists of providing start up funds to prospective businesspersons, organizing them into cooperatives that can help them access loans from established funds for women and youth.
Gasingwa said some of the street vendors are even young enough to enrol for Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET).
CoK Mayor Fidele Ndayisaba said “small and medium enterprises form the largest part of the business community in the world and many people live off it; once streamlined, these people will not only provide for themselves, but to the nation as a whole.”
He said, however, street vendors should have an optimistic mindset.
Street vendors are estimated to be above 7,000 in Kigali.
Officials condemned people who usurp the powers of security agents and mistreat street vendors.