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Traders Working Group equipped with leaderships skills

The Bulawayo Informal Sector Working Group (ISWG) received a big boost of knowledge on Leadership, negotiation and conflict management skills during a virtual training that was held on Zoom in August by Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA) under the Centre for International Private Enterprise project.

The ISWG is a group which deals with issues that are faced by informal traders in Bulawayo and envisages in coming up with solutions for the betterment of livelihoods hence BVTA realised the need for the group to possess governance skills.

Facilitating during the training, BVTA Executive Director Michael Ndiweni unleashed leadership skills in the first session. “Leadership without followership is just like a walk in the park,” said Ndiweni. “A leader should be a good listener, good communicator, be innovative and be like a gardener who creates safe space for plants hence the need to create one for the informal traders,” continued Ndiweni.

 He challenged leaders to break the ice and be the agenda setter in the sector rather than being a dovetail while the informal sector is languishing in numerous challenges which needs their attention. Ndiweni buttressed that associations should adopt new ideas, fair assertiveness and be innovative, diplomatic and promote dialogue and analysis.

Addressing the same meeting, Ms Blondie Ndebele who is an Information expert capacitated the ISWG leaders with essential elements of communication, pointing out that technology is at the heart of development hence the need to embrace it as leaders of associations and advance communication skills.

“Leaders should reflect and clarify issues rather than to conclude without facts as it fuels conflicts and creates ridges within the sector,” added Ndebele. She stated that, good communication is about understanding instructions, prioritise understanding, requests, asking questions and conveying key information.

Mthandazo Bhebe, Assistant Projects Officer at BVTA unpacked negotiation skills stating that communication and negotiation are inseparable. “It is of paramount importance in any negotiation process, to understand someone and put them in their context,” Bhebe said.

“Negotiation hinges on accommodativeness in nature and is not segregated, but binds and harmonises parties together. In approaching any negotiation process, attitude, knowledge and good interpersonal communication is fundamental. There is need for vendors and informal traders to understanding the context as they negotiate for their spaces in the informal economy,” said Bhebe.

The Vendors Voice also spoke to one of the ISWG members, Mr Shelton Sithole, who expressed his gratitude for the training and that the group will apply the skills in their respective places of work.

The ISWG actively took part in the virtual platform through Zoom under the Informal Economy Awareness Programme. The programme advances seven (7) thematic areas which are; Respect for and Recognition of the informal economy, Development of linkages between the informal economy and formal business, Market Access and Infrastructure, Formalisation, Financial inclusion, Social Protection, Devolution. The programme is led by Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Associations (ZCIEA) with four other partners namely Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET), Women Alliance of Business Associations in Zimbabwe (WABAZ), Zimbabwe Cross Border Traders Association (ZCBTA) through support from the Centre for International Private Enterprise (CIPE).

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