How much mobile phone airtime street vendors earn a month

Amai Blessing
Amai Blessing, after chatting with us at the Green Kiosk launch

When we attended the launch of Econet’s Green Kiosks two days ago, we were particularly fascinated learning some interesting mobile airtime sales figures from a lady who is currently operating one of these Green Kiosks. Her name is Jessica Kokerai but she told us she’s known in her community of Warren Park as Amai Blessing (Shona vernacular for Blessing’s mother).

So anyway, Amai Blessing told us that before she got her Green Kiosk from Econet, she used to airtime top-up cards at the Warren Park shopping place as an airtime street vendor. Then, she says, she used to sell about 400 airtime top-up cards a day. Now since the denomination of each Econet top-up card is at least US $1, this means she’d sell at least $400 worth of airtime a day. Warren Park by the way is a high density residential area in Harare.

Airtime street vendors get their airtime from authorized Econet dealers (like those operating the Green Kiosks for example), and from what we gather the street vendors get at least 8 cents of each dollar they sell. This means they make about $32 a day in ‘profit’. If we conservatively assume that they don’t work on weekends (not true for most) that’s $704 a month ($32 x 22 days). To put that in perspective, it’s way more than the below $500 figure that an average civil servant in Zimbabwe earns a month.


But Amai Blessing is not a street vendor anymore. She’s an authorized Econet dealer.

“I was a vendor, selling at the shops, but now things have changed. My business is growing” she told us. From selling an average 400 airtime cards a day as a street vendor, Amai Blessing says now she sells between 3,000 and 4,000 cards a day!

Amai Blessing wouldn’t say the exact percentage of each $1 card of airtime that her business retains but information we gather is that authorised dealers like her on average keep 5 cents of each $1. If we take 3,500 as the average number of cards she sells a day, this means she makes about $175 a day (3,500 cards x 5 cents). Now a kiosk is not like an individual that takes weekends off, so let’s assume it’s open 6 days a week at least. That would give us a monthly figure of $4,550 ($175 x 26).

Now remember that the airtime is just part of the business. As a Green Kiosk operator she’s also an EcoCash mobile money agent and she also sells Econet Solar accessories like solar chargers and solar lanterns.

Also remember that we conservatively assumed all cards sold are $1, which is really not the case on the ground; airtime top-up cards also come in $5 denominations.

Again to put her income in context, in my previous life as an tech manager for a very large international NGO in Zimbabwe, my gross salary wasn’t even half of her airtime business.

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