Tuesday, July 28, 2009

informal in Angola

Angola's informal economy--street vendors selling everything from car stereo parts and locally-caught fish to fake perfume and Chinese flip flops--in markets like Roque Santeiro, which was founded in 1986, are now threatened by a ban on street trading. Inter Press Service has details.

Among the interesting facts in the article:

* Angola has a very high rate of entrepreneurship. One in four Angolans were involved in start-ups, significantly higher than other production-driven economies, like India and Colombia.

* an NGO formerly called the Sustainable Livelihoods Project (it's now known as KikiCredito) tried to replicate in Luanda the work that was pioneered by Grameen bank in Bangladesh. The project organized groups of 20 to 30 merchants with democratically-elected officials. In 2004, SLP had nearly 5,000 clients in Luanda and a second city, Huambo, and the project was hailed as a first-rate example of a successful micro-finance initiative.

* Out on Luanda's streets, however, at the bottom rung of the entrepreneurial ladder, life is harder than ever, thanks to the provincial government's new ban on street vendors. Teams of police patrol the crumbling pavements, chasing women from their patches, sometimes seizing their precious goods. The legislation was introduced to "clean up" Luanda and concentrate sellers in designated market areas like Roque Santeiro.

It remains a mystery why governments are determined to stamp out informal entrepreneurship when their countries clearly have so many other social and environmental problems to confront.

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