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Vendors Voices Project Change story

Name of project: Vendors Voices Project
Partner: Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA)
1. In your organizational opinion, what is the most significant change that took place in the community (ies) where the project was run in the past 6 months in relation to this project?
BVTA’s Vendors Voices Project implemented in 4 wards in Bulawayo (1, 7, 22, 28) created opportunities for policy engagement between Bulawayo City Council and Informal traders through use of formal and non-formal-strategies such as Onsite Digital Age Vendors (ODAVs), setting up Community Based Advocacy Teams (COMBATs) and Policy Engagement Stokvels where community mobilisation tools shared and spaces for dialogue created
The most significant change that took place in the communities is the ability by community members to speak truth to power and in one voice on issues that affect their lives i.e informal traders are engaged with the Bulawayo City Council demanding respect of their economic rights, better trading facilities and challenging abuse of women in market places. In addition informal traders are now aware of policy gaps and they have been using the skills learnt to push for people centred policies, for example the review of the Bulawayo City Council informal traders’ By-Law. 83% of trained informal traders are using social media to share information.
Lilian Musipani (32) from ward 26 a beneficiary of the project said, “ The project has equipped me with skills to speak on failures by leaders in my community, failure to provide us with toilets in vending sites, sometimes customers hesitate to buy or do not buy at all because of the smell from the area as people relieve themselves at a nearby trench. After relieving themselves, there is nowhere to wash hands since there is no water and they rush to serve customers and this is unhygienic, I will use the knowledge I learnt and work with fellow group members to talk to council to build toilets here in our area and also provide us with clean water”.
2. Why does your organization characterize this change as very significant?
This is significant because informal traders were not well organized before the inception of the project, informal traders lacked skills to lobby and mobilise communities to challenge to duty bearers. It empowered informal traders with innovative ways tell their stories and market their products.
Piollar Nkomo (27), a female from Ward 28 said “Through the knowledge I got in the Onsite Digital Age Vendors Training, I am able to market my products especially broiler chickens and eggs on Whatsapp and Facebook, hence reaching a wide range of customers,”
Blessed Moyo (32) from Ward 28 a female informal trader, characterized the change to her life to the intervention, she said “Community mobilisation training helped me to be able to mobilise vendors and informal traders to support each other. Community Based Advocacy Teams (COMBATs) brought us together and built team the spirit of working together as informal traders”.

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