Informal traders in rural areas are struggling to stay afloat due to successive COVID-induced lockdowns, with most of them failing to develop marketplaces on social networks like Whatsapp, Facebook and Twitter.
In Manicaland Province, rural informal traders including vegetable vendors, clothes vendors, potters, carpenters, bricklayers, cooked food stall vendors usually ply their trade at growth points and business centres.
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The major service centres in the province include Murambinda, Watsomba, Hauna, Nyamaropa, Chiendambuya, Checheche and Nhedziwa.
Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Associations (ZCIEA) president, Benita Goneso said there is a need for all informal traders to embrace digital platforms regardless of their location.
She however acknowledged that most rural informal traders do not have the required gadgets or internet access to create their own digital marketplaces. Said Goneso:
Our prayer is for our rural informal traders to also find a platform to market their wares profitably. They can do this using the digital marketplaces that their urban counterparts are using.
It has, however, come to our attention that our rural-based traders lack the technology for them to be online and so we are hoping that development partners will assist them with the digital skills as well as the equipment so that they can earn a living and look after their families.
She also observed that the ban on intercity travel has disrupted the normal trading food chain as most urban traders depend on buying wares from rural traders.
Speaking in separate interviews with The Manica Post, Gibson Mudemaunga, a potter who plies his trade at Murambinda Growth Point in Buhera, and Anna Mataure of Watsomba, said selling their products have become a challenge and COVID-19 may wipe out their traditional physical marketplace.