The Voice – Botswana
CHOOSING and celebrating individuals on Facebook is a common thing.
Some choose themselves while others pick family members or friends and write glowingly about them.
This week I decided to use this platform to follow that trend. My choice is a young man from my hometown Bulawayo who has added an interesting twist to his business of selling bananas.
With the unemployment rate in Zimbabwe standing at more than 80 percent, an increasing number of people have turned to vending, selling different things on the streets such as airtime, fruits, sweets, vegetables, clothes and groceries.
Though these people earn an honest living, with some leading modest lives compared to those who are formally employed, vendors are generally looked down upon.
As such, it is not easy for many young people facing the pressure of ‘keeping up appearances’ to be vendors, let alone selling bananas. But not for 23-year-old Riccardo Dzimiri.
Dzimiri has made Bulawayo’s popular Joshua Nkomo Street his office. Every day he sells his bananas, which he has branded ‘Ricky Dirz_ Fresh Ngenqola’ (loosely meaning: fresh with a pushcart) from this street, sticking close to the Main Post Office as it is a busy area in the city.
Realising there were already dozens of other vendors selling bananas in the CBD, the young man had to do something to set himself apart from the rest. He branded himself and his products and also made use of social media to push the brand.
With over 3, 000 followers on Twitter and hoping to continue attracting more people, Dzimiri says he has no doubt his brand will one day be a force to reckon with.
“I could have sold anything on the streets but for some reason I was drawn to bananas despite being fully aware that there many others selling this fruit. I, however, have no regrets. Branding myself and my products is really paying off as some of my followers come in person to buy the bananas. This of course also gives me a chance to interact with my customers,” says the well-dressed youth.
Besides selling in the streets, Dzimiri also has customers in his neighbourhood that he regularly supplies.
“While I may be enjoying what I am doing, this is not to say it’s all a bed of roses. The business has its challenges and risks, considering that bananas are perishable. Also our economy can be volatile which can make it quite difficult to operate. But nonetheless one has to soldier on.”
Though he hasn’t been in the business for too long, having started in March last year, Dzimiri says he is happy with how the business is going. Through the proceeds he makes from the banana trade, he is able to cater for his needs without having to rely on his parents, who stay in the United Kingdom and South Africa respectively.