Struggling To Survive Amidst Insecurity And Economic Crisis

35 year old Grace Eve Achol, amidst the hardship and economic crisis in South Sudan has not lost hope in operating a small scale business in Rumbek of frying fish and sweet potatoes.

 Struggling To Survive Amidst Insecurity And Economic Crisis
35 year old Grace Eve Achol frying sweet potatoes and fish in Rumbek [Photo| Mabor Riak]

By Mabor Riak Magok

RUMBEK, 16 December 2017 [Gurtong]-She is determined to make ends meet for her family and survive through all the challenges she faces.

“I move around with my fried fish and sweet potatoes and then come back after selling to my customers who are mostly at the shops.” Said Achol.

Before venturing into her small scale business, she was a painter. “I have just finished my last contract on painting two months ago and after I finished that work and did not get another contract, I resumed my business of frying fish and sweet potatoes while waiting for a new contract”.  Said Achol.

Achol said her business helps her come up with money to sustain a living in Rumbek and for supporting her family. She is a widow. She lost her husband back in 2006 and has no help from anyone to raise her children.

“I do provide them with all the basic necessary things such as food, school fees, clothing, shoes, treatment and other essential things in order for them not to feel hopeless” said Achol.

“I started this business of selling fish and sweet potatoes since 2013. It is only where there is fighting or insecurity that is when business becomes difficult because there are no people to sell to my fish and sweet potatoes. That’s when I have to find an alternative to make an income,” said Achol.

“For the fish, I have some people who supply me with fish from Bahr Naam river, Lang-cok, Araaw river of Wulu County and Lol-manyiel.”

Achol also owns a small make shift restaurant where some of her customers visit over lunch hour to have a meal. “I have customers who come here and eat lunch in the restaurant and those who I serve when I go out and move around within the town.”
“In terms of profit, I get a huge profit. When I buy the fish from my supplier at 4,000 SSP I can get a profit of 2,000 SSP after selling them fried to the customers.”
She began her business with an initial capital of 1,500 SSP in 2013. She pays a tax of 1,600 SSP after every three months to the State revenue authority.
She also pays rent for 100 SSP per month, pays 3 of her workers 200 SSP each per day, one bundle of firewood at 150 SSP daily, six Jeri cans of water each at 15 SSP a day and school fees for her children is 350 Dollars s she narrates to Gurtong.

“I have 3 children. The first born are twins who are now 13 years. They are in primary six and will be sitting for their national examinations next year. The young one is still in primary three. My dream is that if I could get an organization that can support my dreams to open up a training center for cooking and catering in Rumbek, I  will be able to teach others on catering and how to do business,”  said Achol while smiling during her interview.
“In the past when I started this business, I recruited five women from this community who were helping me and now they have learnt from me and they have now set up their own business of cooking. They are doing the same business I am doing right now, and these ladies learn a lot from me. They know now how much each fish can bring and what profit you can get out of each fish,” she said.
30 years old fish supplier, Magok Malual Dhuor who uses a motorcycle to transport his fish from Ayen-Mayor through the route connecting Wulu to Rumbek explains how insecurity is their biggest challenge when it comes to transporting supplies.
“The only means of transporting fresh fish to customers in Rumbek is by motorcycle. We go by motorcycle to Ayen-mayor and buy the fish from the fishermen at the cheapest price, but due to rampant insecurity, killings and robbery that is what is disturbing our business along the route connecting us to Wulu and Rumbek County.”
They must first spend two nights at the riverside and leave as early as 5 am to head back to Rumbek for four hours on a motorbike.
“The nearest riverside is Bahr Naam but insecurity there has made it impossible for us to bring fish through that route. The armed youth robbers will take everything from you. Phones, money and the fish. If you fail to cooperate with them in the middle of the bushes there, they can kill you. We have now decided with the fishermen who are there at the riverside not to carry money because of looting on the way. So what we basically do is barter trade with the fishermen. They ask for what they want in return for the fish.”


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