Henry on Markets


It does not require a lot of money to set up a market place especially at this particular time of the year. The liberalization of markets in Malawi has allowed people to sell products of their own choices at their own convenient time and place. There are some kinds of businesses that are supposed to be licensed for operations while some can operate without a license.

In Malawi, this is the season when most of the farm produce is ready for consumption, such include green maize, pumpkins, green beans, fresh ground nuts, squash and of course many other foods! Since these are in abundance, their markets are very easy to access; they are found along the road, outside shops, in people’s homes and of course in formal markets. Since these markets are affordable in this time of the year, they are accessible even to the average Malawian. Those who are business minded also take advantage of this season to buy the produce while it is cheap and sell it at a higher price during the lean period.

Like in any country, Malawi also has chain stores that are operating across the country. There are shops like Metro, People’s superette and PEP stores which are also found in Kasungu and are where most people rely when it comes to buying groceries, kitchen utensils and other home basic needs. Unlike the market for farm produce which is easily accessible to all especially in this time of the year, these chain stores are hardly patronized by the average Malawians. This is because these shops are located in towns which are far from villages. In addition, the prices in these stores are not affordable to those living in villages. However there are some villagers who also take this as an advantage. They buy things from town and sell them in the village at a mark up price. Prices in chain stores are non-negotiable.

Unlike in Metro and other chain stores where customers can not negotiate for lower prices on goods, there are also private shops in Kasungu where people buy furniture and other luxury materials and there is room for negotiations. It is a trend by most people in Kasungu that they will always flock to a shop where they can negotiate for better prices.

There is also an interesting form of trading in Malawi whereby sellers just go directly to people’s homes to sell things; some experts even use a natural means of advertising, shouting! The most common ones are those who sell vegetables and charcoal. Interestingly, these kinds of sellers like to sell their things very early in the morning or late in the evening. This is probably because it is hard to do this kind of trade when the sun is very high in the afternoon. The disadvantage that these sellers have is that they are normally victims of stray dogs.

What I like about the markets in Kasungu is that when you have good negotiating skills, you can buy some of the goods at half the original price. I don’t like the quality of the products, especially those from shops, they are not as durable compared to their prices.