Monday, 30 March 2015

Where Zambian Traders Go Wrong

...They decline large denomination notes for lack of change!

Guest blog by Samuel Kasankha

Have you noticed, or haven't you, how if any business person or concern will turn you away with your money because they are not able to change the high denomination Kwacha you have planted on their counter, they will almost be invariably indigenous Zambian? Oh yes!
True, we seem to have readily realised that we can, after all, earn a worthwhile living out of trading in all sorts of merchandise including (pardon my examples) used underwear and so called "manhood" and hip or breast enlarging concoctions for those that feel belittled by their current God-given natural body sizes! (Where are they that specialise in brain enlargement for I hear bigger brains are more useful than bigger sex symbols?)
But I'm talking about our strange if not dull indigenous entrepreneurs or their agents at the counter or till who are so desperately bankrupt of business sense they don't have the slightest idea it is their business to stock enough change because refusal to attend to a client on account you have "no change" negatively affects your rate of turn over!
Unrebased Kwacha.
In case even this begins to sound like original South African "cingoni" which is unfamiliar to many a Zambian ear, don't you surely enhance your profit-making abilities by getting as many clients to buy as much as is possible of your merchandise off your shelves? So how on earth do you attain this goal by either being so indolent or ignorant you can't make daily runs to the nearest bank (and they are now all over including the townships) to change some of your in-hand Kwacha into smaller denominations for purposes of being able to accept every note that comes your way and give the valued client their due change?


Soiled Notes

Not with our country men and women that have opted to survive by vending, I tell you!

"Aaah, palibe change [Aaah, there's no change]," they will tell you nonchalantly and quickly face skywards to make it crystal clear that any further comment from you is unwelcome and a bother! Take the same denomination into an Indian or Lebanese (or even Rwandan) shop next door, they will willingly sell you that K3 Coca Cola and give you back your K97 change without a single sign of irritation with you. They are counting their turn over, the number of stuff leaving their shelves, and how each item, no matter how small, is building towards the huge profit with which in a matter of time they will dominate you and I sooner than later while you keep crying that "foreigners this" or "foreigners that"!
If you haven't observed this, or you have and now think like me that indigenous Zambians have a curious if not peculiar way of shooting themselves in the business foot, take a tattered or partly torn Kwacha note to them and try to transact! They will refuse to accept that MONEY and vehemently order you to produce "better" money the very effort making you wonder whether the notes, Dollar, Naira, Kwacha, name them are part of the main course at dinner so they must be very neat for our healthy and happy chewing!
On the other hand, watch how the Indian or Lebanese (or even Burundese) will tuck that tattered Kwacha away, another item sold, turn over rate up by one, and at the end of the day or early tomorrow, at the time of going scouting for change, the torn or tattered notes will form normal banking business!
You can trust your indigenous entrepreneur or their agent to refuse to serve you over terribly trivial matters like tattered notes and explain with so much conviction "bamatishauta ba boss tikatenga ndalama zong'ambika [the boss shouts at us if we accept tattered bank notes]."
[Photo credit: Global Voices]

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