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The Mobile Street Food Service Practice in the Urban Economy of Kumba, Cameroon

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The mobile food service practice is one of multiple survival strategies adopted by poor urban households in Cameroon to maintain and expand the base of subsistence incomes, especially in the current surge of economic crisis. Though a fast-growing informal sector enterprise, it is still at an artisanal stage in urban Cameroon, creating an urgent need for a supportive policy environment that could have measurable positive impacts on improving the productivity, welfare and income levels of the micro-entrepreneurs. This study looks at the mobile food service practice in Kumba, Cameroon, in terms of its basic characteristics, the locational factors influencing its socio-spatial distribution, the critical success factors (CSFs) determining customer choices, and its impacts on the local environmental resources and quality of urban life. The mobile food service practice creates employment, generates income, and acts as a food energy-support instrument to the urban poor and local economic activities operating in Kumba. The vendors, who are mostly women, can make incomes that are 405 per cent of the national minimum wage and, thus, contribute financially towards the education, health and survival of their families. The paper provides some recommendations on ways to improve the efficiency of this sector so as to achieve sustainable economic and social development and to enhance empowerment thereof.
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Keywords: Cameroon; central place location; informal sector economy; micro-finance schemes; mobile food vending; women entrepreneurs

Document Type: Original Article

Affiliations: Department of Geography, University of Buea, Buea, Cameroon

Publication date: 01 July 2002

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