The Hurdles of a Vegetable Market Vendor

An ordinary woman’s life is one that is full of huddles and it takes only a person who has been there to understand what the are going through and having one who will wake up and brave the day is an act worth recognising.

Life as a market vendor may seem easy but there are a lot of huddles that one has to brave in order to stay relevant not only to her family but also her customers.

Starting up

For Bibiana Minderu who left her home town to come and live with her husband who was a driver at the time, says staying at home was not an option for her since she had to lend a helping hand to her husband so as to make ends meet.

She is a wife and mother of eight.

Her first venture seemed a joke because she started with less than ten thousand shillings only trading in tomatoes and onions which was not profitable at the time but she had to keep going in order to see it grow and yield more interests.

She says starting out the business was not easy because she in several occasions had to throw away the merchandise because the had gone bad due to lack of customers.

She recounts having people bypassing her stall and going to others because they were well stocked with whatever they needed and they were already customers to the other vendors.

Minderu says a stall that has a variety always attracts many customers since they will not have to move from one stall to another in search of things.

She says her first days were not easy since she had to foot to the market to shop for the things she needed because she could not afford to dash out any cent to the transport agents regardless of the dangers that awaited her.

With that job, there is no day to rest unless you want to lose your customers to others. So the only day she rests is when she is ill and cannot handle working otherwise she works throughout.

What her typical day is like

“My day starts at 4:00am which is the time I go to shop for the day’s merchandise at Owino, Nakasero and Nakawa markets.

Each market has something better they have to offer but I have to make sure that I am back to my stall by 6:00am so that I can bring out those in the store and also wash and trim the vegetables I have brought so that the customers find them neat,” says Minderu.

She manages to beat the time by having the things dropped to her stall by a trustworthy boda man so that she can proceed to other markets.

“Much as my children were quite old, at first leaving home at that time was very draining because I always had a lot when I returned home at 8:00pm to clean up and make sure that everything is in place and still leave early to hustle,“ narrates Minderu.

She says at some point she felt she missed out on her children’s life since she barely had much time to interact with them at home but having them help out at the stall bridged the gap.

The challenges she has encountered

She says the job comes with a lot of challenges especially for her who had to work and at the same time pay school fees for her university daughter.

“Most of the profits I get are taken by her which means I have to be extra careful when handling the capital or even make sure that the losses I make are minimal which is very hard to keep up with vegetables that are highly perishable,” notes Minderu.

She has on several occasions made loses that required her to go and borrow items from her colleagues and because of the trust they have built, they have always given her what she needs and she pays at the agreed time.

With such an arrangement, all she enjoys are the profits and she has to make a come back with that.

The time vendors move to look for food items is also very dangerous since they encounter very many wrong people who think they have a lot of money.

“I was once stoned on the chest when I was crossing Queensway to go to Owino market. I fell unconsciously on the ground with no one to help. I woke up at around 9:00am and fortunately, my money had not been taken but the incident left deep scars in my heart,” recounts Minderu.

Apart from that, she also encounters customers who treat her in a demeaning manner because of the attitude they have towards the kind of the job she does but they are the kings. I keep calm and serve them but it is frustrating.

How she has benefited from it

With the business at hand, Minderu has been able to educate her children and she is still paying tuition for her daughter who is at university not forgetting to contribute the residential house construction works her children are undertaking.

She advises fellow women not to just sit at home and be on the receiving end but stand up and do something that will bring development to the home.

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