The nature of biashara, which is primarily trade and commerce in a cash intensive economy, is such that margins are extremely thin, and there is a fragile line of trust, credit, and credentials which keeps the flows humming.
M-Pesa changed that in some very fundamental ways, allowing the tightly furled buds to bloom. Trust, now, could be bypassed by sending money directly to the payee. That same phone number which is your account for holding cash in a convenient way is also your location. This allowed for scale and reach to flourish in the trader’s network, and some Mamas could start thinking of retirement. Their network was doing the work for them.
Do traders let go off the reins once they’ve built a stable cash flow coming in every so often?
Not really. Its a characteristic of the trader’s credential that he or she be seen to be on top of their game. Mama who has almost retired still knows everything about the price of grain in the market. Expertise is always valued.
In many ways, the web underlying biashara is well suited to the dispersed and connected centers of supply and demand in the global value chains.