The Proliferation of Mobile Cafeteria in Cameroon
Douala, Cameroon - Sept 2007
Mobile cafeteria have experienced rapid growth in many cities in Cameroon with many youths setting-up in business in order to keep themselves busy and earn their daily bread.
The cafes are operated out of a small two wheeled barrow with a turn up front and covered by a large umbrella or sheet of platsic. Though many of those who are involved in the business claim it is temporary and express hope for a better future, others are pessimistic and believe they may end up doing this for a long period since securing a job in the formal sector is like a dream come true.
Affordability and convenience are two of the main benefits customers site about mobile cafes, instead of one having to go to the café it comes to you.
23 year old Djeukam Theophile is a café owner who operates in the economic capital, Douala. He says that though he makes a profit from the business it is not only demanding but very tiring. His day begins at 5:00am and sometimes as early as 3:00am and later ends around 2.00pm in the afternoon.
When he rises in the morning he begins by boiling spaghetti, beans, water and he also prepares the other ingredients which will be used during the course of the day. He leaves home at about 6:30am and takes his usual route attracting customers as he goes along.
While he starts his activities in the morning others prefer to begin at 4:00pm and finish late at night.
Although young and single he revealed that he has responsibilities; he not only has to fend for himself but also contribute to the upkeep of his younger siblings. Theophile became involved in the business after dropping out of school because his parents could no longer afford to sponsor his education. While returning to school in future is always an option he has reservations about doing so due to the impact this would have on his business which is proving to be quite lucrative at present.
Theophile is not the only one who has found himself in such a situation. Many other young men and women are forced to abandon their education due to a lack of resources. Some of these youngsters are going into the mobile cafeteria business, thus enabling themselves to earn a living and help support their families.