Mogadishu women go “round and round” in clothing businessPhoto | Women selling clothes/Photo/Nasro/Ergo
Many women in Mogadishu are engaged in buying and selling clothes to make ends meet for their families. The trade is known locally as “ha I wareejin” – meaning “don’t take me round and round.”
Qoran Diiriye has been trading in clothes for more than 20 years. She explained how the “ha i wareejin” trade works:
“Ha i wareejin is a business venture based on mutual benefit for seller and buyer. I bring in the clothes and give them out to the customers, who pay me an agreed price for the items in a piecemeal manner, a little at a time, as they can’t afford to pay for the items all at once.”
The women involved in this tricky trade are mostly people of little or no capital to venture into more lucrative businesses. Some sell the clothes in the markets, others hawk them in the streets, while others sell them in their homes.
“The rich don’t buy from us; our customers are mostly the poor, who don’t have the cash to pay upfront all at once. I take very small amounts from them at a time, as little as 5,000 Somali shillings, or whatever they have in their hand at the time,” said Qoran.
Khadro Ali hawks clothing in the late afternoon and early evening. She carries the garments she has for sale in sacks on her shoulders, moving around the neighbourhood, going from house to house.
“I’ve been in this business for a year now. We face a lot of challenges, the customers we deal with are all different - some pay their debts as promised, some never managed to pay in full, while others just disappear with your money.”
This clothing trade is woven in to the social life of the capital city and performs a vital social service. For example, at wedding times the women traders may lend necessary clothing to the poor so they can proceed with their marriages, and pay later.
Qoran said: “The poor cannot afford expensive weddings and our trade really helps them out by giving them all the items they need for the ceremony, like carpets, clothing, mattresses, bed sheets, you name it. We agree on the prices, and they pay in instalments, or whenever they get money.”
Even those who are not poor use the services of these women, for example when invited to a wedding and caught short with little cash.
Married women and housewives dependant on cash from their husbands find this trade very convenient. The ability to pay bit by bit allows them to acquire the clothing outfits they want and pay over time out of their monthly housekeeping allowance from their husbands.
Nasra Cabdi Bakaal/FM/AM