“I have never experienced this. It’s as if originally I was not in business. The students on a holiday break are surely a blessing and now I have managed to get what to pay the bank this month,” bragged one businessman, on a taxi drive to Nyamirambo.
Rwanda’s entrepreneurs have a reason to smile all the way to the bank because of splurging students who are on the four week holiday break.
The students are keeping shopping malls, street vendors and trendy entertainment places busy.
Munyaneza Felix, a street vendor in the city center, says his business booms over holiday time. His customers are youngsters who are always looking to spend from wherever they are. However, he says that his customers are seasonal.
“Our customers come at a time and disappear in the shortest period. Like now, we have a lot of customers and are making a lot of money. In just a few weeks the students have been here, I have made what I always make in about three months,” Munyaneza says.
Munyanaza says that there are a lot of good things on the street that are relatively cheaper than those in the malls.
“We know the style the youth put on and we are a bit cheap compared to what the people in the malls ask,” says a happy looking Munyaneza.
Innocent Ndahirwa, a shoe dealer says he prays the break never ends.
“If it can always be like this then at least one would get some small amount to send home,” says Ndahirwa.
The only threat to the business is the continued police harassment. The police call it akajagali (meaning disorder) in the city discouraging selling near the streets of Kigali.
The police want them to sell within shops of which they don’t have the capacity. Moreover mobile shops as they are called are better.
If you fail to get money from one place then you move to another place in anticipation for better bargains.
Businesses on the streets profit more as they do not pay taxes. As others in the malls hike prices to meet the rental and tax payment, the street vendors lower the prices for the same products that are hiked in the malls hence attracting the students in search for better bargain deals.
But street business is not the only beneficiary of the student break. Others include food businesses, with the most prominent being the ‘happening places’ and disco halls.
One attendant at the popular Cadillac disco club, who preferred not being named, says the club is always full before 10:00pm, a thing that is not common during normal days when students are at school. Most turn up in groups, to dance.
Younger girls are escorted by unashamed older men who spent lavishly on them. So far we are sure there is a lot we have made out of the students on break.
The sad scene behind this seemingly happy scene is that most of these youngsters , club patrons, are minors who by law are not supposed to access such places, let alone smoke of have alcohol sold to them.
It is for this that the police are always on stand by to net law breakers. The risk for the younger girls is usually exposure to HIV/AIDS in their social engagement with the older men.
Holiday time can be fun time, spending time for the youth, but sadly it can also be disaster time, as you never know what these youngsters will end up doing next.