Former hawkers reap big from working together

"We can find enough time to care for our children, we no longer have malnutrition problems, and our children are stable in schools", said one former hawker.

Seraphine Mukamuganga, had been one of the promonent hawkers who had clogged the streets of Musanze town for the years until she decided to give it up in 2016 and convincing 300 other women to do the same.

32-year old mother to one, Mukamuganga, shared her testimony during Liberation Day celebrations at Ubworoherane Stadium of Musanze District.

“My journey as a street vendor started in 2013 here in Musanze town. I was one of the top of the top hawkers. I had many goods circulating everywhere in the streets,” she revealed.

“However, either hers or her colleagues’ lives were miserable, passing the day in running battles with law enforcers, mainly police and DASSO. During the confrontations, we used to leave our toddlers unattended in Musanze Taxi Park. It was very terrible,” she said.

In February 2016 Mukamuganga decided to call it quits and used her clout to urge her fellow street vendors to give up as they were no match to law enforcement.

“Many accepted my call then I wrote down their names and took it to the district requesting for a help. Later, the mayor himself promised to find us a suitable place to resume our business legally,” she explained.

They were given space in Musanze Fruits and Vegetable Market and were exempted from paying taxes for one year to help them settle in.

They formed six saving groups named ‘Abibumbiye Hamwe’ which started with 300 members but has now grown to about 800. At the beginning, the district supported the groups with Rwf6 million which served as a capital.

She said she gets at least Rwf120,000 in profits every month and has managed to build a house through a loan she acquired from a bank.

Remarkable changes

Mukamuganga added that stopping hawking in the streets led to the eradication of malnutrition and hygiene problems as the former street vendors now manage to find a time to check on their children.

“Reports from local leaders always indicated that former street vendors were only the parents who had children with stunting problems and many among us had children suffering from jiggers while others had dropped out of schools. That’s because we used to wake up early at 5am and returned home at 8p.m extremely tired,” she explained.

“Now we find enough time to care for our children we no longer have malnutrition problems, our children are stable in schools and we are able to provide for them whatever they need”.

Augustin Ndabereye, Musanze District vice Mayor in charge of economic development said the district carries out follow-up to ensure none among the former hawkers is back on the streets.

He said curbing hawking had started bearing fruits where over a 1,000 former street vendors have settled in Musanze Fruits and Vegetable Market.

“Those who are still hawking should realise that working in organised markets has better opportunities to grow the business and accessing financial institutions becomes easy,” he advised.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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