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18.01.2017 Feature Article

Never Despise Petty Traders: The Coconut and Pure Water Sellers' Story

Never Despise Petty Traders: The Coconut and Pure Water Sellers' Story
LISTEN JAN 18, 2017

A facebook friend, Adu Amani, took to her wall to share this information and I thought it will be expedient to share it with you. She mentioned that she spent some time to have a long chat with street vendors. She narrated that; the pure water seller who comes from Ablekuma every morning to sell at Accra Central, beautifully dressed that night on her way home after a long day said, “It’s funny how some of you guys in suit pity or look down on us because we are on the street doing our job”.

According to her, they actually make more money than people in white collar jobs actually do: the highest income they make in a day is 100 cedis and 50-30 cedis on a rough day. She is able to save 20 cedis daily and uses the rest for her personal needs. For her, she can never work under anyone as an employee because she makes more than enough by just selling pure water and drinks. At this point, I must confess that I envy this pure water seller.

We are mostly quick to downgrade such petty traders and hawkers because we see their work as tedious, dirty, and unprofitable. I hope that we shall opt for their jobs as, let’s say, part time jobs during our leisure time especially in these times when lay-offs and dismissals are rampant and unannounced.

Sammi PanAfrican Boat, another facebook account holder, obviously a facebook follower of Adu Amani, also replied to the post which had gotten a lot attention, likes and comments. And he wrote: “I was just telling a friend a similar thing after buying some coconut. The ‘Kube’ seller(coconut seller), obviously not an attractive job, sells a coconut at 2 cedis. If he sells 100 coconuts a day, that’s 200cedis. Let’s say after sorting out all cost and needs, he saves 50 cedis for susu a day. Now, let’s do the maths, 50×30=1500. Thus, 1500 cedis for a coconut seller’s income fit for the month. Meanwhile a so-called graduate earns 1000 cedis as monthly salary with deductions from his or her daily expenses such as transportation and food fees (from that monthly income of 1000cedis). Clearly, you’ll see that the graduate is no match to the Kube seller. Yet these same ‘graduates’ don’t even respect the Kube seller.”

These two accounts obviously gives us something to think about, doesn’t it? We can agree that running a small scale business is now the way to go. At best, one can think of doing a petty trade alongside his or her paid job in other to get ahead financially. That is not to say that white or blue collar jobs are bad or you should quit your job. This is just a wake up call for people struggling to make heads with their income and the financial stress that comes with it. My only problem with these traders is their lack of knowledge on how to reinvest their profits into other ventures. I hope that that the financial institutions responsible for advising such small scale businesses will rise up to the challenge and keep these people on the right track.

I will also like to use this medium to advice the hawkers and some of these petty traders to take their health and safety and those of their customers into consideration while running their duties. It is sometimes an eyesore to observe how dirty and unkempt some of these traders look as they serve customers with products which are mostly for consumption. This in turn poses high health threats for consumers, and to some extent the traders themselves who may be prone to diseases caused by germs. Another thing they should look out for is the environment in which they serve in, such as, busy streets and unhygienic places. These places poses high risks and should be looked at for safety reasons which can totally be prevented.

In all, I wish every worker and employee well. I hope that you find happiness and fulfillment in any area or field that you find yourself working in. The simple rule here is that, accord everyone with the maximum respect that you can afford them and be sure not to look down on anyone. Who knows? The next coconut or pure water seller you come across may be your employer in some years to come. Stay humble.

Justica Anima
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Justica Anima
Justica Anima, © 2017

The author has 40 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: JusticaAnima

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