Earning a living from selling sweets – A perspective from Malawi

By StreetNet Media
May 10, 2024
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Being a street vendor is an act which is prohibited in many parts of the world. Authorities criminalize this work, but many people find it important. Not just for the street vendors themselves, but the people of the community and sometimes even the government.

How a small street vendor business provides for a family

Frank Bandawe is a street vendor who sells sweets in the streets of Blantyre. Frank is in his early 20s and he is a breadwinner to a wife and a kid. His business looks very small and contemptuous to many, and many people wonder how he survives with that small business. He sells sweets at K100 per every three items (that is about 0.057 USD).

“The fact is we are always aware of city authorities who chase us from the streets. But my presence here is not only a gain to me, but for the government as well. I am saying this because, if I buy these candies from the wholesale shops, there is a certain amount of tax which I pay automatically. That amount helps the government as well”, said Bandawe.

Bandawe lives in Mbayani township which is not very far from Blantyre CBD. It is good for him that he does not take so long to reach the place where he does his business as a street vendor. But this forces him to live in an expensive rental house.

Bandawe said that with his business, he manages to pay rent, feed his family as well as paying nursery fees for his kid. He manages to fulfill at least some of his basic needs, especially those that seem to be the most important.

“I make sure that I come into town early in the morning to start my business, making sure that by the time the authorities start to chase us, I have made some early sales. Besides that, I also wake up early so that I can just walk to avoid expenses for transportation”, said Bandawe.

Street vendors making life simpler for the community

Bandawe further explained that if all people were to buy items from the street vendors, life could be simpler for many people.

“I am not saying that we should close the markets” he said. “But as anyone can see, people find it hard to go inside the market for a small thing. So when he finds it in the street, that means the process is simplified”.

Bandawe added that he is sometimes encouraged by people who buy from him as a street vendor, since they always commend him for the good pricing of the items he trades. For example, those very same sweets are sold at a higher price in the shops and by some traders inside Blantyre market. This gives him more customers for he provides a cheap service which is accessible to many people in need. 

This article was written by Youth Reporter and Media Activist Uthman Kaisi.

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