Dick Hanscom passed along this BBC article about banknote merchants in Zimbabwe. Thanks.
Noel Ngwenya, 44, from Chivi District of Masvingo Province spends his working days in downtown Bulawayo, the country's second largest city, with a loudhailer advertising a unique service.
He collects torn or soiled foreign currency notes that have been rejected by supermarkets and other traders - mostly US dollars or South African rand, which are both legal tender in Zimbabwe.
Mr Ngwenya pays his clients 50% of the value of whichever note they bring - so they get $1 for a torn $2 note or 100 rand for a torn 200 rand note.
Zimbabwe's rate of inflation has been falling since August 2022 when it hit a staggering 285%. However, in March this year it was still running at 87.6%, forcing Zimbabweans to find creative ways to survive.
The informal economy, massive bank charges and distrust of the banking sector mean Zimbabweans prefer to deal in cash or mobile money.
Mr Ngwenya describes himself as an agent for middlemen who have contacts in the US, South Africa or local banks, where they exchange the torn or soiled cash for good notes. They provide him with an operating float each time they pick up the torn notes and pay him a commission.
A married father-of-five, Mr Ngwenya supplements his unpredictable trade by selling fruit and roasted corn on the side. "Things used to be good but these days business is slow," he says. "Sometimes you can be lucky and have someone bring you a torn $100, some days you have to make do with the $1 and $2 notes."
To read the complete article, see:
Buying banknotes to survive Zimbabwe's sky-high inflation
Wayne Homren, Editor
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