“Earning among Friends”: Business Practices and Creed among Petty Traders in Tanzania

by Sayaka Ogawa


This paper analyzes how petty street traders called Machinga have created unique credit transactions in response to the political and socio-economical transformation after the economic liberalization of Tanzania. The credit transaction described in this paper is called Mali Kauli and is conducted by middlemen and micro-scale retailers. In this paper, I will discuss how newly created urban social relationships and knowledge of urban life, both function to sustain this unstable credit transaction, which balances social norms with economic profit. In conclusion, I will insist that the norms of reciprocity are not incongruous with economic rationality. The flexible “moral economy” does not require a rigid community or set of conventional norms. It can take effect in fellowships in which people trick each other, yet at the same time build mutual trust. The Mali Kauli transaction is a creative practice of the Machinga.

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Sayaka Ogawa, Ph.D. Candidate, is a student of Graduate School Asian and African Area Studies, Kyoto University. Her research interests have focused on the entrepreneurship and social networks of commercial informal sector, especially, those who called as Machinga in urban Tanzania. Her present research topic is the historical change of their business practices in the second-hand clothing trade. Her major is economic anthropology and urban anthropology.