ILO and StreetNet investigate the organizational needs of street and market vendors in Moldova

News | 30 August 2019
ILO and Streetnet International Meeting with CNSM in Chisinau, Moldova
ILO COOP and Streetnet International representatives conducted a joint mission to Moldova to consult with the ILO constituents and partners to identify the needs and opportunities of street vendors and market vendors toward cooperatives and other social and solidarity economy organizations in Moldova.

This mission was informed by a comprehensive review of the informal economy in Moldova published by the ILO in 2016. It was also based on findings from an earlier mission in 2019 where street and market vendors were identified as a priority group who face high costs of formalization and have organizational needs.

Elder women street vendors outside a city market in Comrat, Moldova
The mission held consultations with workers’ organizations, self-employed and market associations and government representatives. The mission representatives also spent time speaking with street and market vendors, as well as market administrators in Chisinau and Comrat municipalities. The mission members observed that street and market vending offers low barriers to entry, limited start-up costs, and flexible hours. Yet, street and market vendors face many issues including around registration and taxation, individual vs. collective rights, health and safety regulations – especially where food is involved – and urban planning and governance.

Street and market vendors in Moldova consist of a diverse group of people including elderly women retirees, migrants, Romani people, rural producers and others who are mainly traders. Their customers are often poor people like themselves who cannot afford to purchase goods from the large supermarkets. While they are an integral part of the urban retail landscape providing easy access to a wide range of goods (fresh produce, prepared foods, household goods, stationery, garments and crafts), street and market vendors are often seen as a nuisance by the public authorities.

Young women street vendors outside a city market place in Comrat
The mission concluded that there are clear associational needs to provide a range of services, the design and implement suitable organizational support programmes for cooperatives and/or other social and solidarity organizations of informal street and market vendors. Capacities of existing social partners and other support institutions will also need to be further strengthened to support formalization of informal traders’ businesses. A rapid assessment would contribute to form a better understanding of the different groups of street vendors and their needs and challenges. The findings of the rapid assessment would then need to be validated through a workshop with the participation of ILO constituents and other relevant stakeholders to inform the design of a comprehensive response strategy.