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close this bookWomen in Informal Sector (Dar Es Salaam University Press, 1995, 46 p.)
close this folderWho Are the Women in the Informal Sector?
View the documentThe Class Connotation
View the documentAge
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Most of the women who are engaged in the informal sector, are relatively young. Out of the 300 women surveyed, 100 from Arusha, 100 from Moshi, 80 from Dar es Salaam and 20 from Mwanga; almost three quarters 220 or (73.3%), were of the age group between 18-35. The majority, 160 or (53.3%) were in the 18-30 age group.

The involvement of relatively young women in the informal sector is influenced by type and nature of the activities involved. While doing research in Moshi and Mwanga, old women who were involved in the informal business told me that there are young women who go as far as Taveta to buy items for their businesses. The same happened in Arusha during the time of shortages in 1980s where some of the women travelled to Namanga to buy some items from neighbouring Kenya.

In Dar es Salaam, it was a mixed bag with regard to the age structure. Although many of the young women did their business in market places, selling food items such as maize floor, some of them were selling local beer. Very few upper class(middle class) young women, in fact none in Dar e salaam, did this kind of business. This leads us to the conclusion that those in the middle and upper middle class engage in the informal business activities which involves big capital. Most of the young women do not have enough capital, are poor and have no accessibility to formal financial or lending institutions. It can also be deduced from the field data and observation made that there is a close relationship between age and capital formation among the women in the informal sector. The older the woman, the higher the possibility of being able to carry out the informal business profitably.

But it is not age alone that contributes to the accumulation of capital. Marital status also matters. While the majority (31) among the young women in the informal sector in Manzese and Buguruni in Dar es Salaam (N=48) were either singles or divorcees, the majority of the women in the upper class in Dar es Salaam were married and had support from their husbands in acquiring capital.