Street Foods: Urban Food and Employment in Developing Countries

By Irene Tinker | Go to book overview

CHAPTER EIGHT
Vendors and the Economics of Their Enterprises

The comparative statistics and information collected in the seven preceding case studies provide a rich and unique data set about an activity found in almost every country around the world: the street food trade. This chapter aggregates and analyzes the data about the vendors and their microenterprises drawn from the seven EPOC studies in the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Bangladesh, Egypt, Nigeria, and Senegal, and adds to them information collected in similar research in India and Jamaica, where research centers utilized the EPOC methodology. Where appropriate, data are included from subsequent street food studies that were often stimulated by the EPOC work.

Principal conclusions include the following: street foods are ubiquitous and a growing phenomenon in urban areas in developing countries; wide variations in the numbers of vendors and their gender roles exist; family and kin support is central to most street food enterprises; stability and profitability characterize a high proportion of the trade, but failure is also frequent; most vendors are microentrepreneurs, rather than dependent workers; harassment by local officials, not credit, is the major impediment of the trade; vendors' average income is generally higher than the official minimum wage and many vendors earn as much as schoolteachers or government clerks.


Size and Seasonality of the Trade

Table 8.1 lists the seven cities by total population and presents the number of street food establishments counted throughout each city in both high and low season. No direct relationship between city size and the number of street food vendors is reflected, despite the intuitive expectation of finding more vendors as cities become larger and more congested. When workers and students travel further each day through clogged roads on overburdened public transport systems, returning home for a midday meal is no longer possible. Nor are women necessarily at home to cook: pressures on women's time as they juggle income-producing jobs with household

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