This this chapter. Background The informal sector economic activities

This qualitative case study focuses on
the challenges and coping mechanisms of young female informal workers with
particular emphasis to street vendors in Arada
sub-city. This chapter presents the background, statement of the problem,
rationale of the study objectives and research questions of the study. Moreover,
significance, challenges and  limitations
of the study are also demonstrated in this chapter. 

Background            The informal sector economic
activities are rapidly expanding globally, especially in developing countries.
In Africa for instance, informal sector activities accounted for almost 80% of
non-agricultural employment, over 60% of urban employment and over 90% of new
jobs for approximately the past decades (Manganga,2007. P.4). the informal sector
is  a very essential activity for the
survival of people in cities who could not fulfill their needs through formal
sector. Thus, it has become a shield for the disadvantaged people of many of
the developing countries’ larger cities ( Losby et al., 2002:14 cited in
Mengistu and Jibat,2015).            In Ethiopia, as pointed out by
Sibhat (n.d), the informal economy GNP in 1999-2000 was 40.33 %. She  also stated that even if little attention has
been paid to the role of the informal sector in development, growth and
creating jobs, the sector contributes about 55 % of sub Saharan Africa’s GDP
and  80% of the labor force. The
opportunity of informal sector in Africa is mostly for the poorest, women and
the youth. According to the statistical data presented by CSA (2003), the
importance of the informal sector workers in Ethiopia is the same as the formal
sector by labor absorptive capacity, which is (50%) of the total employment.

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            The informal sector encompasses in
itself a number of activities. From these activities, street vending is more
visible and important due its entrepreneurial characters and its relation with
urban spaces (Mengistu and Jibat,2015). Although it
has been argued that vending attracts those who have limited opportunities for
obtaining formal employment and/or prestigious business, and minimizes chances of social exclusion and marginalization; street vending is increasingly becoming an option for
many citizens (Mitullah, 2003).

            Whilst mobile vendors
undertake door to door selling, with merchandise carried in the hands, on wheel
barrels and bicycles (Mitullah 2003.p. 7, Bhowmik 2010.p. 5), pavements,
footpaths are always utilized by stationary vendors for exhibiting their items through
the use of mats, tables and fences. Along the globe, street vendors sell almost
similar items, divisible into small bundles to ease movements (Mitullah 2003,
Kamunyori 2007.pp. 26).

            Scholars of street vendors
interested in gender dimension, report that, in Africa, females out number
males; the number raising as high as 88 % 
in some countries (Skinner 2010.pp. 189). However, in the case of
Ethiopia, the total number of street vendors at a country level, (excluding
food vendors) aged 10 years and above is, 20,41; of which 14,019 are male and
12,306 are female. In Addis Ababa, the total number of street vendors (excluding
food vendors) aged 10 years and above is 5,335; of which 4,027 are male and
1,308 are female(CSA,2015).

            The above data indicates that the
number of male street vendors is greater than that of the female, which is an
inverse incidence as compared to CSA’s 2008 data, which shows that out of the
total street vendors, women account for 60%. Here, it is imperative to note
that both the 2008 and 2015 CSA data did not show the number of street vendors
by age group so, it is difficult to identify the exact estimation of young
female street vendors.

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