May 02, 2012
Julius Matovu is the Research and Program Coordinator for Grameen Foundation's AppLab Money Incubator.
Let me introduce two interesting petty traders based in Owino market – the busiest market in downtown Kampala. They are Akim, a secondhand-shoes trader, and Patrick, a secondhand-clothes dealer.
Last weekend I visited this market for a variety of reasons – including buying some “new” secondhand clothes to revamp my wardrobe. As I wandered through the market I came across these two different petty traders; because each of these individuals had something that I may need at some point, I had a good entry point for an in-depth interaction with each of them, to understand what they do. During my interactions, I observed a huge business potential based on the high number of people who visit Owino market every day. I also realized that for someone to tap into this opportunity, they must have sufficient capital. Most petty traders do not have adequate capital and can not turn to formal financial institutions because they do not meet current requirements to access credit.
However, my newfound friends have found a solution to this problem. They have developed a network of people who run similar businesses within Owino, and rely on people in these networks to extend quick credit to each other in times of deficits.