Approximately 2/3 of the workers in the world are employed in the informal sector, which represents a market of $10 trillion dollars worldwide. In this sector, where government usually sees chaos and uncertainty.
Three passionate social entrepreneurs – Keisuke Kubota, Manon Lavaud and Nataliey Bitature- from Japan, France and Uganda, they believe in the power of community, in the power of offering opportunities to people who need the most and in the power of empowering people with the most disruptive innovations.
They launched ‘Musana’ – a solar power tech startup with the mission to provide efficient infrastructure to street vendors mainly focusing on crowded and poorer areas around the world allowing them to conduct and grow their businesses in a safe, legal, and innovate way.
In the urban marketplace you can find just about anything. For this reason, street vendors need customizable solutions to their storage, mobility and energy needs. Musana Carts are designed for and with each vendor to ensure what they receive is exactly what they need. It is powered by solar energy and is customizable to the unique needs of each street vendor.
What street vendors of Kampala, Uganda have to say regarding their present life?
“I’m working every night to pay my fees for University. I understood that life is a challenge, you cannot wake up in the morning and wait for a mango falling from the tree, you have to sweat and use your energy, to get what you want, it’s the only way,” says Tom, 20 years, Chicken vendor, Wandegeya Market.
“I’m working only in the morning, and my husband doesn’t work, still I succeed to feed my whole family, but I struggle, sometimes I’m waiting all the day for customers, I would like to have a way to reach them instead of sitting and waiting,” says Jocelyn, 26 years, Porridge vendor, pregnant, and mother of a 2yr old girl, Nakawa Market.
“My main expense is to rent the fridge from the owner, I wish I could own one myself but I don’t have the capital to invest, it’s my only option,” says Aisha, 30 years old, Soda vendor, Nakasero Market.
It is customized according to the activity of the street vendors- for example a fridge for cold beverage business or a stove for street food business. The product would take the street vendors right to their customers.
It is also affordable, after considering street vendors’ appetite for financial risk each Musana Cart will cost $400. This includes access to finance and business training. The combination of time & energy savings and access to more customers with each Musana Cart the average street vendor shall be able to double their income.
Importantly, vendors eliminate the need to use charcoal-related fuel for their cooking needs using Musana cart in Kampala, which reduces expenses. With a solar powered hot plate the risks of fires and perilous smoke inhalation are completely eliminated. Also it helps in reducing the carbon foot-print from the environment.
Another issue vendors face is being stuck at one stall all day, waiting for customers to come to them. The market is very competitive and unstable so earning a stable and consistent income is a struggle. Once they have Musana cart, are able to move freely with their good or services. It helps them to reach many more customers every day and increases their income.
Some of the benefits of Musana carts are described below:
• Each cart empowers vendors to reduce energy costs and save time, creating additional working hours to sell more products and increase their revenues.
• Vendors will transit from the informal economy to become legal tax paying entrepreneurs.
• Each cart saves 300 tons of carbon emissions every year.
• The elimination of smoke from cooking reduces charcoal smoke inhalation related diseases.
• Musana Carts improves the access to electricity for all the workers within the markets.
• Musana Carts give access to business training and allow each vendor to invest in his/her livelihood leading to upward social mobility through entrepreneurship.
Many vendors do not have the means to purchase a Musana Cart outright. For this reason they have partnered with local micro-finance institutions to ensure every micro-entrepreneur has access to the benefits of Musana Carts.
Musana Cart was brought to the Hult Prize, the world’s largest start up accelerator. They are amongst the final 6 teams to compete at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting in New York this coming September, where former President Bill Clinton will award the USD 1,000,000 Prize to the winning team.
There are 10,000 street vendors in Kampala today. Make a change in their lives with a donation to Musana Carts. The crowdfunding campaign is currently live at Indiegogo over the next three week for a goal of $25,000 to finance the final design of their professional cart. You can help them with your contribution to improve the life of street vendors.
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