The commercial transport system in the country has the car owner at the apex followed by a driver then mate or conductor.
But the work of commercial or ‘trotro’ drivers, mates and the interaction with passengers with huge notes will be a lot cumbersome without the intervention of currency changers.
The trading or exchanging of money into smaller denominations by women mostly for ‘trotro’ drivers and mates might have begun with coins and notes on set tables mostly at busy bus stops but it’s a luxury the ladies in the business of trading money can hardly afford now.
At the Nkrumah Circle in front of the Vodafone Ghana expansive building is Patience Adjoa Ampong who tells Goldstreet Business she is situated at her Centre by 3:00 am or 4:00am chasing vehicles of mates who wish to trade.
The Jasikan Buem native submits it been two years since she was introduced to the business noting it’s helped cater for her two children.
“It’s a tough job running with bags hanging on your chest. I have chest pains now and the smoke from the vehicles can be over bearing too,” she disclosed.
According to Patience, with every GHc1.00 changed for a mate, she gets 20p raised from 10p noting if she brings GHc200.00 to the field, she can earn GHc25.00 as profit.
Despite the fact she wakes early to do it, Patience says she will soon abandon the currency job declaring, “had it not been for my two children, I would stopped already.”
Patience perhaps in stopping has her eyes firmly on her cleaning and cooking job she undertakes for an elderly male in his house.
For 25-year-old Forgive Sosu, she’s been a currency changer for five years since her commercial driver husband introduced her to it.
“The market has been good in years past, it dwindles occasionally but picking up lately. I could bring GHc300.00 some years ago and trade it all but now I get lucky if I sell GHc200.00.”
According to Madam Sosu, the challenge they have is from mates who don’t want any deductions when they give money to be exchanged to smaller denominations. She adds that she makes GHc20.00 on every GHc200.00 she exchanges.
“The job is tough as it involves chasing vehicles requiring one to be with smart else risk being cheated and as a fashion designer will get back to sewing by 2021,” the Dzodze native submitted.
“With GHc400.00, I make GHc80.00,” stated Comfort Ametepey Sossah. With two children, one in the university, Madam Sossah noted she sources her money coins and paper from yogurt and pure water sellers as well as banks.
“I started the money exchanging business in 2014 after I had an accident and couldn’t continue as a pure water hawker carrying the heavy load,” she clarified.
Comfort also works as a cleaner at sanitation company, Zoomlion so when she reports to the street at 4:00am to exchange money concluding at 10:30 am, she heads to clean the streets.
Elizabeth Ampong with two children fends for them herself using proceeds from the money exchange. She stated it’s been two years when her sister Patience introduced her to the business stating on some days, she lands many mates requiring more money to be brought from home to trade. On other days, there is slow movement on the field such that initial funds brought cannot even be exhausted.
By 7:00am latest by 9:00am, Elizabeth runs home to her children to prepare them for school. “I source my coins and notes from SG-SSB, Access Bank and also the yogurt Sellers,” she mentioned.
Madam Ampong also submitted she used to hawk water and bottle drinks but the proliferation of the water brands has made the trade less lucrative hence the switch to money exchange where she can make GHc50.00, GHc40.00 or GHc30.00 on a GHc200.00 principal sum.
While the others are women with children and some with husbands, Grace Sekle is only fifteen and trading on her aunt’s behalf. The St. Paul’s Junior High School pupil art Kpehe says her aunt offers her GHc100.00 bulk sum to trade with noting she quickly trades and then gets to school revealing she’s had to the work because her parents need support since their finances are bad adding she is given GHc10.00 weekly for her efforts.
The common thread with these ladies is that in the beginning, they found it hard to be spotted on the streets, chasing vehicles and exchanging cash but with time have thrown such shyness to the wind occasioned by necessity. Again the ladies complained of more and more people joining the trade reducing their profit margin as they’ve had to share clients they could lay claim to in times past showing that perhaps the economic pressures were forcing more people to the street to eke a living.
By Michael Eli Dokosi/goldstreetbusiness.com