Monday, July 26, 2010

Make Money in the Third World Part 5: Selling Junk

This is the fifth part in a series on real world businesses that Howtomakeadollar has witnessed operating in third world nations. You can read the whole series here.

I spent a few months living in the Maghreb several years ago, and every single morning I was awakened at around 5:30 AM by a guy riding an old bike through my neighborhood. Every two or three seconds he would shout "REEEEEEEEP," and he would pedal around extremely slowly, weaving around like a drunk. Attached to the front of his bike was a tray covered with all kinds of items. Sometimes he would have tin cans, or glass bottles. Other times it would be rusty nails, a shoe, and some old sunglasses.

Throughout the day I would encounter the guy all over the place, often several miles from my neighborhood. I have no idea what "REEEEEEEEEEP" means, or even what language it is. I suspect it is Berber, and I suspect it means something like "Buy my stuff."

I doubt he made much money off his stuff, but he seemed to have something different every day, so he must have had some amount of turnover. On a few occasions I saw people buying stuff from him. His business consisted of riding around, picking up any item he found on the street, and selling the stuff he found to anyone who happened to want or need it.

Like I said, there is no way he was making a lot of money off this, but he was definitely surviving. This kind of thing is very common in the third world, but I remember this guy because he woke me up every day, and I never figured out what "REEEEEEEP" means.

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