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SMALL BUSINESS IN CAIRO

INTRODUCTION

 

Trade is a traditional Middle Eastern activity. Arabs - through ages - were a mediators in the

trade withIndia, but they were also exporting toEuropemany goods, which were produced on their own territories. However bazaars – a places where on one market-place merchants are selling goods from most different lines, from alimentary, across cosmetic, till textile - are still very popular.

 

It is very interesting to ask how small firms (households) are organized in the Cairo's metropolitan area. It is also proper to say, that equally traditional part of Middle Eastern economic system was (and still is) an institution of family businesses. The institution of family - considerably more widely comprehended than it happens in contemporaryEurope– is a base of small firm's and neighborhood organization’s development. Local ties are still very strong and horizontal inCairo, what influences on small enterprises which are mostly familial.

 

Considering that general social aspects of Egyptian economic life, we have to mention rules of earning and economic activity which are regulated (in case of Muslims) not only by the state, but also by dogmas of the religion - Islam. According to them, there is no possibility to earning and becoming rich on somebody’s harm, and to winning money in the accidental way (for example in the lottery). There is a list of activities which says whether buying is not halal (compatible with the religious order) whether haram (which are against it).

 

It is also interesting whether the location of small business enterprises in the city's area is made on the basis of the competitiveness (enterprises with the similar profile are opened in different districts) or (like in contemporary Turkey) they create specific small cartels, where in the same place we can find even a dozen small firms performing the same service. Last situation allows to control local market on one area, it permits also the control of prices. During our research visit inCairowe would like to explore the second model of socio-economic cooperation. We consider it as the most popular way of economic activity in the poor districts inCairo. That kind of activity determine not only the trajectories of participation on the market of goods for the most of Egyptian poor people but also the means of participation in public life (political activity, daily life interactions, negotiations and bargaining with state and their officials). Finally, it opens for the poor people the opportunities to survive   

 





Photos by MichaƂ Lipa & Aleksandra Wilczura

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