BVTA learns informal sector best practices from Asiye eTafuleni in Durban, South Africa

Bulawayo Vendors Traders Association embarked on a learning visit to Durban, South Africa that sought to understand how the Asiye eTafuleni informal sector organisation influenced the eThekwini Municipality to rescind from its decision to move Warwick Junction Market and assimilate best practices on inclusive city planning and design. The market is a thriving informal market hub in Durban’s inner city. The visit also helped to inform the ongoing BVTA Research and Advocacy project that seeks to provide thought leadership, addressing informal sector policy knowledge gaps and promoting inclusive city design and planning.
The learning visit unraveled how the organisation led to resistance actions against closure of the Warwick Junction Market. The organisation embedded its strategies on; dialogue with the eThekwini Municipality and use of the legal framework and building the urgency of informal workers to resist the relocation efforts.
BVTA used this platform to harness opportunities provided by the twinning agreement between the City of Bulawayo and City of Durban through the EThekwini Municipality that administers the city in South Africa. BVTA believes that the cooperation between the two organisations will help address some of the informal sector socio – economic challenges faced by the two cities.
BVTA`s entourage was comprised of Michael Ndiweni and Debra Mukasa who met Asiye Etafuleni and a team of researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MiT), who have a working partnership with the Asiye eTafuleni informal sector organisation. The parties exchanged ideas on how to harness their experiences, collaborate and support BVTA research project. The BVTA team also had conversations with Dr Trynos Gumbo a researcher at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa, who is providing technical support to the Advocacy and Research project.
Key lessons that captivated BVTA from Asiye eTafuleni programming were: the ability of the organisation to document its work, the capacity to model infrastructure, offering training for vendors and allowing informal traders to conduct their own research.
Areas of collaboration between (MiT), Asiye eTafuleni and BVTA were drawn, and these consisted of city planning and infrastructure modeling, education and rights, waste management and developing urban vendors literacy. The visit provided mutual benefits to the two organisations as they pursued plans for Trans-frontier initiatives to address common fundamental challenges faced by vendors and informal workers in the two countries. BVTA greatly benefited from this trip as Asiye eTafuleni shared their insights on informal sector business and gave ideas through sharing their experiences and strengths.

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