PK, PK, PK – street selling in Ghana

Everytime I got in a tro-tro or a taxi, it seemed that half the productive population of the town, fit and healthy young men and women in the prime of their life were walking up and down the streets in between commuting vehicles trying to sell miserable amounts of goods for miserable amounts of money. These were well-turned out people, people who took pride in their appearence and people who, with the right amount of training, I could see pretty much doing any job that a developed country could offer them. But there they were walking from car to car selling everything from individually wrapped portions of PK chewing gum to t-shirts to extremely tacky cushions.

It’s not just in Ghana of course, the equivalent is seen pretty much througout the developing world and mostly in economies transitioning from subsistence farming. The degree of infrastructure varies – in Thailand most of these small business owners have a road-side stall from which to ply their wares. In Malaysia, they mainly cluster in cheap malls. The end effect is the same – cheap goods of doubtful use being sold for razor-thin margins.

But, in Ghana, with its poor roads, its abandoned farmlands and a population just bursting with ambition and potential, watching their people wasting all that energy and ability on selling PK on the streets is just a little too much to bear.

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