Kigali fruit sellers put on brave face to beat Covid-19 downturn

Monday August 31 2020

fruits

Clarisse Mukakarangwa waits for clients at her all-fruit outlet located in Kicukiro District. Photo | Cyril Ndegeya 

ELIZABETH MUTESI
By ELIZABETH MUTESI
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Kigali fruit sellers put on brave face to beat Covid-19 downturn Fruit vending is part of the everyday activities on the streets of Kigali and markets. It is not rare to find mangoes, oranges, apples, pineapples and bananas on offer.

Clarisse Mukakarangwa, a 35-year-old single mother of three, has been vending fruits for seven years Ms Mukakarangwa, a resident of Remera in Kigali City, started off as a street vendor and later started struck out on her own business in Remera market.

She sunk in around Rwf300,000 after leaving an association of fellow women fruit vendors where she felt shortchanged. Now, she is able to track losses and profits herself.

“Before my husband passed away, we both contributed to our children’s education without difficulty. But ever since he passed on in 2018, I had to do everything possible for my children to acquire the educational key to success,” she said.

Ms Mukakarangwa added on that ever since the coronavirus outbreak that saw schools shut, “my children have been home idle since they are too young to take on any income-generating activity.

How I wish this pandemic eases and schools reopen soon for my children get busy with studies.”

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Better days

“Through my fruit vending business generating over Rwf50,000 per month, I was able to make it these past seven years and pay my children’s school fees with my savings,” said Ms Mukakarangwa told Rwanda Today.

Every morning at 10 o’clock, she visits different markets in the city to purchase stock for her business. In addition, suppliers source and deliver fruits for cleansing, sorting, and assembly for sale.

Ms Mukakarangwa negotiates favourable prices for the array of fruits she displays to attract customers.

“In a day, I leave with between Rwf10,000 and Rwf15,000. From this income, I am able to pay school fees, rent for my fruit stand and house as well as buy food,” said Ms Mukakarangwa.

She, however, says it has not been easy to make enough money since there are losses at times.

“Just like any other business, I have challenges, like my fruits going bad in a short time, low sales during this pandemic as all businesses are not doing well.

We also have to cope with the limited working hours due to the lockdowns.

Sadly also, some of her fruit suppliers' businesses collapsed because of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Ms Mukakarangwa is optimistic and that when this pandemic fades away, she plans to buy a small piece of land to produce fruits herself and also put up a retail shop.

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