Nabeela Vadwalla | Pic: timeslive.co.za
With street vendors and shopping malls on the rise, have you ever taken time to think about the effects of large businesses?
Businesses exist to provide a service or product to the general public. The consumer makes a choice to purchase that product or service. All large and small business enterprises exist to continue operating and to make a profit. This is the core concept of business management.
Now whilst the concept of business management is correct in all cases, in reality, an addition to the definition applies; the trader, who is in fact the business person, runs a business solely to feed their own family and cover basic human expenses.
I recently came across a post whilst browsing social media. It was shared by Shoni Stone who raised the most thought provoking statements.
“…they do business not to buy designer clothes and shoes but to live and eat.” One of the most powerful statements in this post makes one realise the greater needs of society. Business owners may express their sentiments towards this, but will unfortunately do little about it.
Many South African informal businesses run solely to cover basic costs such as; food, sanitary and shelter expenses.
On speaking to a few hawkers, in Johannesburg over the past few weeks, it was found that the money they earned covered the expense of the product sold and the extra profit is used to buy bread for that night and basic necessities. They live mostly on a day to day basis.
Salaamedia caught up with, Maama, who is a vendor that sells braaied mielies (corn on the cob) on a busy street in Johannesburg. She said, “I sell mielies and use the money to buy more mielies to sell and food for my kids and me and candles and matches and things like that.”
Many home industries run on the similar concept. Aunty Fatima who makes handmade Indian bread, known as roti, sells her product from her home, to the community of Laudium, in Tshwane Pretoria, said, “I use the money I earn from roti sales to pay for lights, water, food and school for the children.”
Many other vendors and home industries such as these, run to cover basic living and household expenses.
Further research indicated that the sale of second-hand clothing is a popular trade in informal settlements. Second-hand clothing is either received as a donation, or bought from charity organisations for a minimal amount per item. These clothing items are then sold at a higher price, where the profit goes to sustaining entire families. The more items sold, the more food and necessities will be available to the family.
Referring to the above post, by Stone, it is important to know that it is better to support a street vendor, than to support a street beggar. By supporting a vendor you are encouraging an entrepreneur, but by supporting a beggar you are encouraging handouts. It is also vital to realise that by supporting the street vendor, you have in fact contributed to the food they will eat. Bearing all this in mind, it would hardly be appropriate to bargain with the vendor for a few Rands less.