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A look inside a vendor’s business

‘Mathabana Kotelo

MASERU — Faced with unemployment and two kids to feed, ‘Mathebe Ramotšekhoane resorted to her basic culinary skills to put food on the table.

She secured a stall in the old bus-stop area and started selling food to make ends meet.
Ten years on, the single mother earns enough money to feed, clothe and educate her children who are in high school and primary school.

“I sell food and refreshments to people in the bus-stop area, from passengers waiting to board buses and taxis to mineworkers heading home during month-end and even factory workers using long distance trans­port to Thaba Bosiu and Moitšupeli.”

On a normal business day, Ramotšekhoane says she makes around M300 from the food and drinks she sells from a municipal stall, while during peak periods like on month-ends and during the festive season she makes between M900 and M1 000 a day.

She attributes her M6 000 net monthly earnings to having two dedicated assis­tants, a loyal customer base which she has built since 2004 and being a prudent spender.
“I have accumulated very loyal custom­ers in the time that I have been in this business and they keep my business go­ing.”

“The street vending business is my liveli­hood; this is how I put food on my table and clothe my family. My house was built from savings acquired from this business and even my children’s education is paid for through this business.”

Despite challenges of flooded stalls and ruined stock after heavy rains, Ramotšekhoane insists there is great busi­ness potential in the bus-stop area.

“People working in this area are hard­working, dedicated people. All we want are improvements on our working ar­eas like getting sheltered stalls similar to the ones in the new bus stop area so that our stock and equipment is safe from bad weather conditions,” says Ramotšekhoane.

One area which Ramotšekhoane says has great profit potential in the bus stop area is the retail of alcoholic beverages. However, Maseru City Council (MCC) pro­hibits street vendors from engaging in this type of business.

“My customers usually buy a beverage with their plate of food and there is great demand for alcoholic beverages. If the MCC would grant us licences and allow us to sell alcohol, our businesses would thrive and, because we work with regular customers, chances of riots and criminal activity common in bars and taverns are reduced.”

Her desire to grow her business into other types of enterprises lives on despite having been turned away several times by commercial banks for not meeting the re­quirements for a loan.
“Because I am not employed and do not earn a fixed monthly income, the bank cannot offer me a loan so I depend on personal savings and stokvel schemes to boost my income. Someday I will have enough.”

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