Vendors and informal traders in Bulawayo have since embraced Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) to market their products and conduct business. The incorporation of digital technologies has further enhanced their competitiveness in online trading.
The traders underwent rigorous training on the use of online platforms to grow their businesses at the same time adapting to the complex business environment induced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Online trading has become more popular global with the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic and its restrictions. The use of internet based platforms has enabled vendors and informal traders to secure more customers for their products.
Platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp for Business and mobile applications such as ZRBF Sizimele, have enabled traders to reach out to more customers locally and internationally.
Senelisiwe Gwebu, from Magwegwe suburb is among the many traders who have embraced online platforms to buy and sell products.
Gwebu had this to say, “Online platforms have offered alternative ways of trading. We order our stock for resale online and we make the payment upon delivery. We have also used WhatsApp, Facebook to advertise our products and we have also managed to keep our business running despite lockdown restrictions.”
The Zimbabwe Resilience Building Fund (ZRBF) Sizimele mobile application was recently launched by ZRBF Sizimele Consortium in which Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association is a partner. The application is assisting traders to market their products locally and internationally. It interlinks small scale suppliers and sellers of wide range of products.
The fusion of traditional forms of trade with the use of digital technologies is seen as a resilience building strategy in the face of a changing economic context.