Former street vendors reap big from festive season

Market vendors in Nyabugogo market selling cabbages. Former street vendors say they’ve reaped big from the festive season. Photo: Emmanuel Kwizera.

On December 31, the day before entering the New Year was already a festive day for women who are former street vendors grouped in mini-markets across the city, as they took advantage of clients buying food items for the big day.

The New Times visited two mini-markets in Nyarugenge District – Marato and Nyabugogo mini-markets – and found them busy.

The markets, that host mainly former street vendors, are dominated by women and are part of an initiative that started in 2016 to eliminate hawking.

The City of Kigali spent about Rwf1 billion to support former street vendors now most of the retailed items are fruits, vegetables, oil, fish, peas and clothes.

Vendors from the mini-markets told this newspaper that they were reaping big from the festive season.

“I used to sell about 20 fish per day but this has more than doubled to selling about 50. I am happy that I can enjoy with my children this New Year following the increase in income,” said Lenatha Mukandutiye.

Fresh fish was being sold at between Rwf3,000 and Rwf3,500 while dried fish was sold at Rwf5,500.

The prices depended on fish species and size.

It is said that there is still low fish consumption among the general population with Rwanda’s per capita fish consumption is presently at 2.3 kilogrammes per person per year, the lowest in sub-Saharan Africa, which has an average of 6.6 kilogrammes.

However, during the festive seasons the consumption increases considering that even bars and restaurants get more consumers, Mukandutiye said.

Rosette Mukasine, another vendor who retails vegetables, also said that she had seen an increase in sales.

“If I was selling items worth Rwf40,000 a day, this has increased to Rwf70,000 worth of sales. I wish it was always like this,” she said.

Solange Uwikunda said that she would sell 30 one-litre bottles of cooking oil which increased to 50 bottles.

“I think people need to fry more meat and potatoes than other days and some buy to store them to avoid misspending during the festive season,” she said.

However, the mini-survey found that there are still street vendors peddling products, especially fruits and vegetables, even outside the formal markets.

The City of Kigali recently explained that those who are still on the streets come from the city’s neighbouring areas seeking employment.

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