Urban Street Vending As a Source of Livelihood in Urban Cities: A Case Study of Bulawayo

Author: Moyo, Bukhosi

This study explores the efficacy of urban street vending as a poverty reduction strategy looking at its viability and sustainability despite criticism by many people who associate vending with all kinds of negativity. It thrusts forward the agenda of participatory poverty reduction within a nexus of partnerships and relationships between the government, local government, non-governmental organization and other relevant institutions. This informal sector is now an important source of employment opportunity especially in urban areas and to some extent in the rural areas. It is now the country’s largest employer as the economy is failing to absorb many job seekers into formal employment. Therefore this study aimed to determine the factors that lead to street vending and to examine the different types of informal activities done by street vending and to examine the different types of informal activities done by street vending and to examine the different types of informal activities done by street vendors in the study area, and also it endeavored to analyze the contribution of the street vending business activities to poverty reduction among households study in the area. For this particular study, the researcher made use of in depth interviews, closed and open ended questionnaires to gather primary data. Through findings, the researcher found out that urban street vending attracts those who have limited opportunities for obtaining formal employment and/or prestigious business, and minimize chances of social exclusion and marginalization. Therefore street vending is increasingly becoming an option for many citizens especially the underprivileged and lower social groups. However, there is evidence that urban street vending has potential to improve livelihoods of many through sourcing and distributing scarce and general household needs at affordable prizes leading to increased income within Bulawayo urban community. Thus this study advocates the forging of networks between various stakeholders in both the formal and informal sector in order to fight against poverty, thus adoption of a multi-sectorial approach in urban poverty alleviation. Moreover, there is need for a review of policies and regulations and other constraints facing the operators through the introduction of informal sector-friendly by-laws and legislation alongside strategic location of their work premises.