Retailing in Africa is massively dominated by street hawkers who are classified under the informal sector of the economy. Street hawkers are not stationed retailers but mobile. They move from street to homes to anywhere that has a high potential of driving in more sales for them. In Africa they are mostly seen at bus stations, roadsides, even on the streets with moving cars, shouting, calling and parading their goods to pedestrians and passengers of buses moving on the road to patronize their wares. In my opinion, they are the easiest and most accessible points of purchase consumers consider in Africa in their quest to buy goods.
Unfortunately, street hawkers are the most at risk in the process of retailing to consumers.
In Africa, street hawkers are at a higher risk of being involved in a vehicle accident than a pedestrian. Street hawkers literally sell their goods on the road, standing in between vehicles, trying to urge passengers to buy their goods. Often, they are run over by moving cars while crossing roads to sell to customers, hit by vehicles which have lost control on the road, hit by motorists who run through the traffic. Sadly, most lose their lives or become handicapped after such incidents yet the number of street hawkers increase day by day and all efforts by the government to remove them from the roadside has been futile.
A risk of street hawking that is detested by street hawkers the most is losing goods while transacting with passengers in moving vehicles. It’s actually both ways, either the passenger loses their money while purchasing from the street hawker or the street hawker loses their goods to the client, sometimes because the driver would have sped off not knowing about the transaction occurring behind him. If it’s the latter, the street hawker is put at risk because they would have lost their capital and profit for those goods lost which is unhealthy for business. Even though street hawkers are aware of this risk, they still stay on the streets and sell to passengers.
Street hawkers serve their customers till deep into the night. Because they close very late, they usually are at a risk of being attacked by street thugs and hoodlums who steal their money, inflict wounds on them and even sexually abuse the women. Sometimes, their goods are taken away from them leading to loss of capital.
Running to catch up with moving vehicles, carrying heavy goods, walking for long hours under the scorching sun etc, renders the street hawkers tired, stressed and sick at the end of the day. In an attempt to relieve themselves of body pains and illnesses, they take strong painkillers often which becomes an addiction and can result in them contracting other adverse side effects of these medications. There are even reports of drug abuse among these individuals. These can result in other organ malfunctions, especially diseases associated with these delicate parts of the body like the heart, kidney and brain.
Tips to manage risks
- Be extra cautious on busy roads
- Do not hawk into the night
- Get rest and do regular check ups
- Observe traffic signs to prevent losing goods