Hard times: Small businesses feel the pressure

It is becoming increasingly difficult for small businesses to compete with big companies. Anastase Kurikiranzira owns a photocopier in Kigali City and runs a photocopying service. He says staying in business is a struggle.

It is becoming increasingly difficult for small businesses to compete with big companies. Anastase Kurikiranzira owns a photocopier in Kigali City and runs a photocopying service. He says staying in business is a struggle.

“If you don’t work hard, you will be eliminated,” he says.

Kurikiranzira started his photocopying business five years ago. At first he thought life as a photocopier machine operator would be a walk in the park. But despite the struggle, Kurikiranzira believes in competition and welcomes competitors.

“It is very difficult but we somehow manage to push through,” Kurikiranzira says. He says his work is paying off despite the challenges. Since setting out, he has bought two more photocopiers.

Alice Mukamana who also owns a machine says business is hard. Her husband died in the 1994 and left her behind with children.

“I have to compete with the businesspeople or else I won’t get to educate the children.” Mukamana says police sometimes stand in the way.

“Authorities often favour big and organised businesspeople. They have shops and pay revenues,” she explains.

“They want us to go to rural areas but in these places there is no market.”

“The police do not want us to operate on streets. They want permanent stalls or shops,” she adds.

But Mukamana explains that small businesses have no capacity to own shops and are left with no option but to operate on the streets.

Many have shifted from Kigali following a directive that businesspeople without permanent structures must move out of the city.

Kurikiranzira, however, remains optimistic: “Every business has shortcomings. You will never find a person with business without complaints.”

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