Sithokozile Moyo – Zimbabwe

Date: October 14, 2015
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From rags to a prominent baker

“I used to stay indoors feeling that I am an unworthy person. Gender Links transformed my life and I am now a proud owner of a viable business.” Sithokozile Moyo.

Sithokozile Moyo suffered abuse that negatively affected her life. Her life was at a stand-still as she was always indoors eating her heart out over the bad things that took place in her life. The situation reduced her to a pauper as she was not being productive and fate was set to continue reigning in her life. As she was suffering in silence, her situation captured the attention of Bulawayo City Council and she was enrolled in the Gender Links (GL) entrepreneurship programme. When she attended the “I” story collection workshop she managed to open up for the first time through writing down her own story.

“My first encounter with GL was in 2014 through Bulawayo City Council. I was a very shy person and I was not able to interact with other people because of the abuse I suffered. My past experiences made me feel worthless and all hope was lost. My first day with GL changed my perception and I realised how much I was missing in life by keeping on holding to the past. I managed to open up through writing my own story and I felt a heavy load coming off my chest,” Sithokozile Moyo.

Moyo later attended the first phase of the entrepreneurship programme were she learnt important business management skills. She was taught how to come up with a business plan and to effectively implement it on the ground.

“I took the lessons I was receiving seriously, in particular the one on customer care. I was also very happy as I was taught the importance of having a bank account and was made to get one,” said Moyo.

Immediately after the training, Moyo started a small business baking cookies in her house and selling them on the streets. The demand for her product grew and she was no longer able to supply the required quantities because the production was taking place in her kitchen using a two plate stove. She later realised that the way she was operating would not sustain her business because customers were starting to question where and how the cookies were being manufactured. She approached a local bakery and entered into a partnership agreement.

“The lady improved the quality of my business. I met her when she was selling bakery products on the streets. I discovered that she makes biscuits much better than me. I was doing biscuits before but they were of poor quality. When we discussed further, that is when she started producing for me. We were struggling to produce biscuits and we took advantage of her to produce good quality biscuits. We are now confident of the quality.” Remegious Nkomazana director and owner of Bernard Bakery.

Moyo feel indebted to GL for equipping her with skills that enabled her to create links with prominent business people. She feels that if it was not for the entrepreneurship programme she would have remained a prisoner of her past life.

“I really thank Gender Links for giving me confidence and restoring my self esteem. I am now able to take care of myself and I am now always outdoors doing productive work unlike before when I was always indoors being wasted away by stress,”

Apart from the bakery business, Moyo also has a sewing business. She designs sun hats and supplies them to the local schools and other organisations. She started the sewing business so as to close risk gaps and remain in business when another arm of her business crumbled.

The transformation that took place in Moyo’s life changed the way she interacts with other people in her community. After seeing her business transition from selling under a tree to operating a well-established business entity, many people started frequenting her house seeking for advice. She is now able to interact with people from diverse backgrounds.

“Sithokozile Moyo is my neighbour; she used to always be indoors as she was not able to open up to anyone about her problems. I noticed the changes that were taking place in her life at a later stage when she started baking cookies in her house. I started seeing her leave the house every morning, going out onto the streets to sell her cookies. I came to know her better the day she rescued me from my abusive boyfriend. She encouraged me to continue with my education because I dropped out of school in 2006. I continued with my education in 2014 under the supervision of Sisi Thoko (Moyo) and I wrote my exams and passed,” Patience Ndowa, Moyo’s neighbour.

Currently, Moyo is working very hard to acquire her own commercial stand so that she can operate as a sole proprietor under her own name. She mentioned that the challenges she faced as an emerging entrepreneur were numerous, ranging from an unfavourable business environment to a lack of finance and the situation pushed her into a partnership with an already established business. She is of the view that in as much as GL’s work is commendable, there is also need to assist women with capital because some of them are failing to apply the skills they learnt due to financial constraints.