Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA), is one of the organisations in the country representing the interests of informal traders. Below is an outline of what the organisation does.
· Vendors and informal traders in Bulawayo face multiple challenges including the lack of adequate – well-designed trading spaces, cumbersome licencing procedures, colonial-era by-laws, police harassment and the lack of a modern informal sector policy within the City of Bulawayo.
· Women who work as vendors and informal traders in Bulawayo face additional challenges that include gender-based violence, lack of access to health facilities and limited access to child care facilities leading to an increase in children on the streets.
· BVTA is therefore working with its members on advocacy campaigns aimed at securing the economic and social rights of vendors and informal traders.
· BVTA believes that vendors should be at the table when decisions about their small businesses and futures are being made.
· Advocacy platforms used by BVTA include face to face meetings with City Councillors, Members of Parliament and Government Ministers.
· BVTA has presented petitions and written letters directly to the Town Clerk and Mayor of Bulawayo.
· BVTA works with Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) and Abammeli Rights Lawyers to secure justice for its members and all vendors approaching the BVTA Office for assistance.
· Current BVTA Advocacy Campaigns are focused on the adoption of a new Informal Sector Policy for Bulawayo, updated and progressive by laws.
BVTA recognizes that advocacy campaigns are not the solution to improving the livelihoods of vendors and informal traders. BVTA therefore offers practical small business support to its members including:
· Vendors Licence Registration Training.
· Business Training
· Financial Literacy
· Linkage with Microfinance Institutions
BVTA has therefore established business and legal services support mechanisms that equip, empower and educate our members. The association has established partnerships with organisations that have viable and relevant micro-savings and microcredit solutions including MoB Capital.
· Capacity building within BVTA is aimed at empowering individuals and also growing the organization.
· As a social movement, BVTA has conducted trainings in democratic engagement, enhanced citizen participation, participatory policy making and responsible leadership.
· BVTA members have limited access to traditional media sources like newspapers and television. BVTA therefore uses social media and its own print newsletter to ensure that its members are kept well informed about economic and social developments in Bulawayo and Zimbabwe
· BVTA has established relationships with national and regional organisations including VISET, ESSET and Asiye eTafuleni (AeT).
More information about BVTA
· BVTA envisages an inclusive local economy that recognises and enables vendors and informal traders to have sustainable livelihoods so that they become key contributors to economic growth and development.
· Our mission is to offer coordination, capacity building and business support services to vendors and informal traders.
· To identify business opportunities and establish business linkages for members.
· To undertake research on issues affecting the operating environment of vendors and informal traders.
· To coordinate advocacy and lobbying on issues affecting members.
· To establish savings and microfinance schemes for members
· To provide access to legal representation in instances where a member may have challenges of a legal nature.
About BVTA members
· Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA) is a rapidly growing membership-based organisation of vendors and informal traders that exists to expand economic opportunities for the urban poor in Bulawayo.
· The organisation has one thousand one hundred and thirty nine (1139) members in twenty nine (29) wards of Bulawayo.
Partnerships and Collaborations
BVTA has participated in Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Local Government Laws Amendment Bill, Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Public Hearing Meetings, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Small to Medium Enterprises Workshops. In addition BVTA partnered with Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) in carrying Information and Centres that sensitized residents on economic and social rights. BVTA in November 2016 collaborated with Women Institute for Leadership and Development (WILD) who during the Informal Sector Rights Conference held simultaneously with 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence that together over 250 vendors and informal traders.
BVTA collaborated with the Local Authorities Capacity Enhancement Project (LACEP) who provided training towards capacity building of BVTA Leadership. In an effort to build the capacity of vendors and informal traders to effectively run their businesses, a financial advisory company MoB Capital Ltd has partnered BVTA on sensitizing vendors and informal traders on their products and they also access business advisory services.
· BVTA members include street vendors, flea market operators, fruit and vegetables vendors and cross border traders.