FEATURE : Nyabugogo market changing peoples lives

The obvious reason for starting a business is to earn money, and probably live your dream lifestyle. In aiming for the best however, some times challenges show up. This proves the fact that no business operates smoothly through out.
Inside Nyabugogo market.(photos   / G. Mugoya)
Inside Nyabugogo market.(photos / G. Mugoya)

The obvious reason for starting a business is to earn money, and probably live your dream lifestyle. In aiming for the best however, some times challenges show up. This proves the fact that no business operates smoothly through out.

The location of a business, may determine whether it faces great challenges or not. Location may prove advantageous or disadvantageous.

Indeed, experienced business people, would fancy locating their businesses in places that provide easy access for the clients.  Location in some instances, does determine what kind of business someone will do.

Nyabugogo is one such area where business booms. Among the busy suburbs of Kigali and apart from open business operation concentrated mainly at the main bus and taxi park, Nyabugogo has also one of the most organized markets in Kigali.

The market deals in second hand clothes which according to sources, the dealers only buy from importers in Kigali town.

According to Alfred Hishamunda, head of Zone 6 market branch, the market started operations in the early 80s and has 6 branches one after the other. He also says that currently, it is being occupied by 750 officially registered business operators.

Appearing like it’s just hidden from the public; dealers in the market prove its operation although it may take some time to notice its existence.

Hishamunda says that the market has given people chance to do business in a conducive and stable environment.

“We are controlled by the authorities of the district (Nyarugenge) through Muhima (Umurenge) and business goes on smoothly as administration is concerned,” he says.

He added that each of the permanent occupants of the market pays a monthly tax Rwf 6000 and annual fee of Rwf 4000.

Lillian Mukakarangwa one of the traders says that her operations in the market have enabled her to pay fees for her two children.

“I started working in the market with a friend with little capital, but I have managed to work and presently, I am paying school fees for my two daughters,” Mukakarangwa said.

Although she could not disclose how much she started with, she revealed that she has also been able to start another side business out of working in the market.

“Of course I can not disclose all what I have achieved from working in this market, but what I can only assure you, is that life has changed to a better state than before,” she reveals.

“Presently I am operating other businesses, which are even far better than the one I started with,” Mukakarangwa assures me as she at the same time, tries to convince a client to buy some of her wares.

Explaining further, she says that she lost her husband and it is her responsibility to look after the children he left behind.

She states that; “paying rent, clothes, and other related needs is no longer shocking to me. I am used to such responsibility and I believe its part of me.”
Briefly, she recalled what life was before especially when she lost her husband.

She said “Independent life was indeed hard to start most especially that time when I lost my husband.”

Mukakarangwa was not involved in any kind of business before, but she had to find a way out to survive and also guarantee the welfare of her kids.

She therefore calls upon fellow mothers and youths, to look around for opportunities to engage in certain economic activities, which can easily help them. She discourages the tradition of some, who sit back to wait and be spoon fed by either their husbands or relatives.

Emma Mugisha, says he regularly buys commodities from the market in Nyabugogo and adds that the market, has indeed helped many people in different ways.

“It is not just the Nyabugogo residents who have benefited from the existence of this market, but even people from other neighborhoods have gained.”

He explains that the cost, at which certain clothes are bought in the market, can not be compared to other places.

“I do not mean that here, things are free of charge, but the fact is that comparing the cost of clothes including bed sheets and blankets, it is cheaper to buy here.”

He also noted that unlike other places where each trader fights to operate in the taxi park, Nyabugogo vendors have developed permanent places where they can peacefully operate from.

“Operating with in the Taxi Park is dangerous as it may involve many criminal acts which may also lead to poor conduct including theft and losing capital as a result of breaking the city laws,” he said.

However, although business in the market appears to run smoothly, some traders express dissatisfaction on the state of the market.

Some say that the roofs of many stores in the market are old and as a result they leak a lot. They have tried to do something about the situation, but many contend that they need help.

“It is now a rainy season, but the roof leaks thus it can easily cause damage and eventually loss in the business,” said one business woman who declined to give her identity.
She explained that all business operators, “are calm on responding to the monthly payments in addition to the annual fee.”

Another concerned business operator says that, to in order to transform the market, all members have to get concerned about the state of the market including authorities running it.

“As we fight hard to maintain and improve the conditions of the market, there is need to take on personal responsibilities together with our authorities,” he advised.

Business in Nyabugogo market has indeed helped not only residents of the area who buy from it, but it provided chance of employment to many who even travel from different places to operate in the market.

However, the conditions mainly when it rains do not only affect business operations, but also the life of business operators in the market is put at a risk.

Therefore, as members of the market come-up with their own measures to improve on business conditions in the market, it is also important for concerned authorities to play a lead role.