On Tuesday the 24th of May 2022, the Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) in collaboration with other informal economy associations namely Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Association (ZCIEA), Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA) and Deaf Zimbabwe Trust (DZT) presented the findings of the Youth Employment and Informality-An Informal Economy Assessment to key stakeholders. The six-month assessment was conducted with support from USAID Zimbabwe and stakeholders who attended the presentation included Government Ministries, Representatives of Local Authorities, Private Sector, Non-Governmental Organisations, Youth Associations, Development Agencies, Community Based Organisations, and various Government Departments.
VISET Executive Director Mr. Samuel Wadzai presented the overall objectives of the research as follows:
- To comprehensively map and provide a broad understanding of the informal economy in Zimbabwe.
- To provide evidence of opportunities for youth employment in the informal economy including those with disabilities.
- To develop strategically tailor-made and evidence-based recommendations for various policy actors for the formalization of the informal economy.
Ms. Barbra Nyangairi DZT Executive Director then gave a presentation of findings, saying the research was conducted in all the country’s 10 provinces, employing a mixed methods approach. Of the respondents, 54 percent were female with males making up 46 percent. Amongst prominent sectors in the Informal Economy were Carpentry, cross border trading, street trading and vending, school uniform manufacturing and construction to name a few.
Most young traders were found to be more of Necessity Entrepreneurs that were in informal trading as a form of survival and a prominent example of this were street vendors. The other category was Opportunity Entrepreneurs who were businesspeople that formed entities to take advantage of business opportunities such as those into waste and refuse collection and water deliveries. Craftsmen were also more likely to be found in this category and were more equally more likely to formalise their business.
The operating environment was found to be largely characterised by post-harvest losses for small holder farmers, politicisation of operating spaces, insufficient capital, lack of infrastructure and inadequate supply of water and amenities.
Violence was also a prevalent characteristic both in workspaces from law enforcement officers as well as bribery and in the home from spouses.
Financing of entities was found to be a major impediment, with most relying on self financing with help from family and friends in the diaspora being main contributors.
Young people with disabilities in the Informal Economy face numerous challenges, ranging from inaccessible public transport and buildings, lack of education and capital and societal stigma. Whilst many of them are in street vending owing to the lack of barriers to entry, it remains precarious for them as they are not spared from running battles with police and Council. Operating spaces continue to be limited in supply and characterised by patronage mostly on political lines.
Whilst mobile phone penetration and digital literacy has improved throughout the country, the lack of smartphones and the cost of mobile data remains an impediment for rural Informal Economy actors.
Recommendations that the Assessment came up with in the main were the need to regulate the working environment in the Informal Sector, addressing of corruption in the public and private sector, simplification of the formalisation process, support of rights education and skills training, supporting of incubation process for opportunity entrepreneurs and provision of adequate WASH facilities at designated sites.
Deputy Director of Employment Creation in the Ministry of Public Service Labour and Social Welfare Ms. Vimbai Chiza thanked facilitators of the Assessment saying this will be an important component to the ongoing Formalisation Process by government and urged participants to take a proactive role in the consultations.
BVTA Information and Publicity Officer Ms. Kwanele Moyo acknowledged the contributions from respondents throughout the country, fellow Informal Economy Associations, USAID Zimbabwe, and other development partners, saying the knowledge product would go a long way in enhancing advocacy initiatives.