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What is Initiative?
Meaning stop feeling sorry for yourself decide and get up and go.
I say it is the guts to get going and do something to improve one’s lot in life.
“Take the bull by the Horns”
At the moment with the credit crunch worldwide almost everyone is looking for ways to reduce their costs or augment their income.
Obviously what one can do in Africa compared to the western world it could be rather different but thought these ideas may get one's thought processes going towards tackling something to make ends meet.
All the following people were actually unemployed and now they can take home money each day to put food on the table, clothe and educate their families. They are by no means going to make their fortunes but are just managing to sustain their families.
Although most people have access to free Birth control in Africa somehow they don’t seem to avail this facility and end up with 6 to 8 children and some more. It certainly isn’t due to religious reasons that they don’t make use of this free facility.
Unfortunately in Mozambique Africa there is abject poverty with a very large percentage of the population living below the bread line so one should take one’s hat off to the following guys as they really have had the Initiative to get up and go.
Not one of these following guys had huge capital if any to start their little businesses.
The Selling of Hard Boiled Eggs.
Emanuel the egg peddler stays in one location all day at a mini bus taxi rank. His busy times are as people are going to work and then those later in the day going home.
He has his eggs, a thermos box, saltcellar and a few spice for the adventurous.
Actually when you think about it if you are feeling hungry a boiled egg or 2 really can go a long way to sustain you and what a quick and inexpensive way to grab a quick snack on the go. However saying that it is a quick snack for many it is their only meal of the day.
Emmanuel wakes up at 3.00 am. First he has to gather firewood and then starts the fire which is not quick as he has no electricity then commences boiling the eggs. Once all the eggs are boiled he then starts on his way for the day most days walking 5 Kilometers to the taxi rank as this saves him money. His daily round trip fare is equivalent to $2.00 this may not seem much but it buys 2 Kilos of rice for the family’s daily food consumption.
Emmanuel’s wife during the day goes around to many area’s buying eggs which is far cheaper than him having to buy from the local stores.
The Selling of Chocolates and Sweets.
Pedro, the Chocolate Peddler has a large shallow tray displayed with chocolates ranging from slabs, to bars, to chewing gum and you name it.
It has a false bottom and in this he fills dry ice considering the high temperatures in Africa.
Pedro has a few busy streets that he walks up and down one of which has a school and he is always in front of the school when the children are coming in and out.
Unlike the rest of the world African schools do not boost facilities that sell sweets etc. on the premises.
I have spoken with Pedro as to why he does not also sell chips and peanuts, he said firstly it would mean carrying more and over time he has found that they are not fast sellers.
The wholesaler that Pedro buys from offers everyday a special on one item which is a considerable discount however to avail the special he needs to be in the queue by 5.30 am as they have a limit per day for the special. The wholesaler opens at 8.00 am.
Selling Matches and Candles.
Jose peddles Matches and Candles.
Jose has a huge bag on wheels full to the brim with matches and candles that he drags behind him.
He also has a box displaying his matches and candles.
In Africa it is very rare that someone buys a whole pack of candles so for many it is a daily purchase and much needed due to the unavailability and unreliability of electricity.
Many families in Mozambique do not have electricity due to the high cost of the connection fee.
Coming myself from the Western world I have difficulty understanding why people do not buy a pack of candles at a time but often lack of money rules practicality.
Jose peddles around the busy streets and gravitates towards the busy taxi and bus ranks in the latter part of the afternoon catching the home going people.
On talking with Jose he says that not everybody can afford to buy the one candle everyday and often go without them for several days at a time.
Jose only goes home on Saturday afternoons as he lives 10 kilometers outside the city so during the week he sleeps in a doorway and swims in the bay for his daily ablutions.
The Selling of CD's and DVDs.
Alberto has a huge rucksack on his back with CD's and DVDs and some DVD’S and CD’S in his hands. He always has the latest releases not some obscure DVD's and CD's.
He wanders around the streets selling his wares. He says the bulk of his business occurs with the home going crowds, no doubt spur of the moment buying for something to do that evening at home.
This seems contrary to my saying money is tough in Mozambique but the CD’s and DVD’s are all copies so the cost of them is by far cheaper than we would pay for the original.
The authorities in Mozambique pay lip service to the world they are doing something about these pirated copies but they are still available.
On talking with Alberto I asked him he though the CD’s and DVD’s were very low cost how does the average person afford them. Alberto said that due to most people living in small villages they are large communities and normally the one person purchases and then all the others put in a share to watch and listen. He further went on to say that normally the community has collectively bought a CD player and a DVD, they then gather at someone’s home that has electricity.
Alberto also sleeps in the city during the week to save on his fares.
Selling Basic Necessities.
To me Jorge is really a useful peddler. He has a large shallow tray with a back going up about 12 inches/30 cms. You name it he has it from ear buds, to safety pins, to reels of cotton, to needles and so on.
He walks the busy streets of the city.
He says that when the traffic lights are red he goes into the middle and always finds one or two purchasers.
Jorge also queues up at the wholesalers from early in the morning to take advantage of the limited the daily specials.
Selling Iced water.
One would think that what Tomas sells would be a slow mover but it certainly is not especially in the hot African summers with most people not able to afford juices and cold drinks.
Tomas has 2 coolers boxes on wheels one packed with ice and the other with large bottles of iced purified water plus packs of polystyrene cups.
He says he moves around a little but finds that even by staying in one place he sells plenty of water.
For Tomas it is a bit difficult as the demand is for iced water but he positions himself very close to the central market where he can buy ice and has a friend who keeps his backup of purified water.
Tomas luckily lives in the city so his home every night.
Selling Pens and Pencils.
Who would think that Vasco would make a living with pens and pencils but he certainly does?
Vasco has a board about 24 inches/60 cms. wide and the same in height.
Strung across the face of the board you will find every type of pen or pencil that you could wish for.
Vasco says he just wanders a certain route in the busy city streets and is more than happy with his turnover.
There is always someone needing a pen or pencil.
Although Vasco lives 10 Kilometers from the city walking to and fro everyday and finds that he certainly finds customers on the way back and forth.
These guys above got off their posteriors and have done something about their lives. I have the utmost admiration for them.
That’s what I call taking the INITIATIVE.
So no matter what countries you live in you can adapt these examples above and take the INITIATIVE to do something to earn and supplement your income.
Want more ideas of what peddlers I have seen around the streets please ask me with pleasure.