Informal Traders Were Smiling

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK While most well established businesses were closed on Independence Day on Tuesday, informal business traders were all smiles at the end of the day as they made profit at the independence stadium, where thousands of Namibians were gathered for the 16th Independence celebrations. Lisan !Haoses who was selling sweets, biscuits, popcorn and fat cookies could hardly respond to questions from the New era team as customers flocked to her stall where she displayed her merchandise. “Business is good and the prices are slightly higher than what I usually sell these things for,” she stated. The prices for all the goods on sale ranged from N$1 for a lollypop (sweet) she usually sells for 70 cents to N$3 for biscuits that normally go for N$2.50. Other informal traders also reported that business was encouraging. Rebecca Tjikuzu, who had meat pieces on offer stated one piece of meat was going for N$6.50, while on any other day it is sold for N$5. Despite the prices being slightly higher, she confessed that business was more brisk this year compared to last year. On this independence day, these informal traders wished the government could come up with ways of helping small businesses to grow into well-established ones. Though financial institutions have made provisions for loans to people who are interested in small businesses, these small businesses still face many impediments that need addressing in order for this sector to improve. “Accessing top financing, and marketing, still remains a challenge,” indicated Tjikuzu. She further complained that one of the reasons why there is a lack of financial support for most small businesses is the tendency by some potential entrepreneurs to hire consultants to draw up their business proposals for loan approval by financing institutions. This has acted as a stumbling block to have financial access for what she described as a “good business”. According to this informal trader, limited working capital with which to purchase trading items is another major problem that has largely contributed to stunted growth of this sector. She related this problem to low incomes of those to whom she sells the foodstuffs. Strong competition among small traders keeps profit margins low and the income per day is frequently below N$10. “At least I would be able to get an extra amount than the usual days. From today’s profit I would be able to buy some few things for my children,” she added.

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