While the advantages of working in the informal economy are often well-publicised – avoiding tax etc – there are also numerous downsides. Informal workers are often subjected to extremely heavy workloads, unsociable hours, ‘attached’ labour, unhealthy conditions, lack of skills and inability to access training, lack of formal written contracts that provide accountability, harassment and discrimination based on gender, class or locality, and fragile job security.
A Household Business and Informal Sector Survey conducted in 2007 in Accra, Tema and Kumasi provides some relevant insights into the general challenges facing Ghana’s informal sector:
– Workers face precarious operating conditions – few have access to public services or specific premises from which to run their business, limiting their capacity to increase manpower
– They have low earnings and poor labour conditions – despite long working hours, earnings average US$153 a month and social security coverage is, in most cases, non-existent
– The majority of workers are self employed or family workers whose basic education falls below the national average
– Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) lack capital and investment
For street vendors in particular, through improving their business management and sales skills, they will be able to increase their revenue and profits, developing sustainable systems by which they can expand and grow their small business.