Verina Muchegu – Zimbabwe

Verina Muchegu – Zimbabwe

Date: November 23, 2015
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“Mover and shaker”

“If it was not for Gender Links (GL) I would not have been able to approach community leaders since I was not aware of my rights as a woman. The community itself used to side-line me and I was not able to make decisions or discuss things on the same platform with others.”

Verina Muchegu’s life story took on a new dimension the day she met GL in September 2013. Her life was marred by GBV experiences but the entrepreneurship training equipped her with the relevant skills and she became a “mover and shaker” in her community.

Muchegu grew up an orphan after she lost both parents during her infancy. She spent the whole of her childhood in the custody of her elder brother. Her brother was mandated to ensure that she obtained an education but he deliberately neglected his duty. He prioritised sending his sisters-in-law to school using the estate that was left by her parents. Muchegu was denied the opportunity to benefit from her father’s estate. She was made to work as a cattle herder while other children were going to school. The situation robbed her of the inalienable right to education. She grew up an illiterate person and the situation impacted negatively on her life. She was not able to access important information as she grew up an outcast because she was not able to participate at the same level as other people.

After she participated in the entrepreneurship programme at a later stage in life, Muchegu managed to set up a small business. She successfully used the business plan she prepared with the help of GL to start her small business. She bought second hand shoes from Mozambique for resale and used the profit she earned to buy plastic buckets for resale. She employed barter trade and exchanged the buckets with maize grain. After saving enough capital she further developed her cross border trading business.

“During the training I was taught the importance of following the official channels when doing business. I did just that so as to avoid losing stock through confiscation by the responsible authorities. Unfortunately, the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) at one time unlawfully confiscated my stock to force me to pay them bribes. I reported the case to the police and I recovered my stock. I was able to fight against this unlawful practice because of the courage I gained during the entrepreneurship training,” Verina Muchegu asserts.

Despite her limitations due to illiteracy, GL was patient with her and she managed to acquire the basic knowledge about business management. “Muchegu was living a very challenging life. I recall the day I met her after her husband left her. She was a homeless and hapless woman. I introduced her to GL after she attempted to commit suicide as she was at a point where all hope was lost. The changes that took place in her life after she joined the entrepreneurship programme surprised me. I was surprised to see her coming to the council to apply for a residential stand and while I was still trying to figure out how she made it, she became the owner of a residential stand,” confides Clara Makwara, former councillor for Chitungwiza Municipality.

The changes that took place in Muchegu’s life brought happiness into her home. Her children now respect her and her eldest son is now employed by the council as a result of the mutual relationship that exists between Muchegu and the council.

“We employed her eldest son after we realised that she was working very hard to ensure that her children have a bright future. Muchegu changed from being an outcast in society to become an inspiration to underprivileged women,” states Cllr Mavis Mazeng’e.

“My situation has taught me to hate societal values that degrade females and those people who preserve such values. I engaged the village head to facilitate the recovery of my father’s estate and he promised to help me. If it was not for GL I would not have been able to approach community leaders since I was not aware of my rights as a woman,” Muchegu acknowledges. “The community itself used to side-line me and I was not able to make decisions or discuss things on the same platform with others. My major problem was the lack of informed decisions due to restricted access to important information. However the training helped me to attain the necessary skills to better my life. I am now on a different platform altogether, because I now have basic computer skills and I am able to communicate with others using email.”

In her endeavour to develop herself, Muchegu faced many challenges. One of the challenges that almost destroyed the prospect of her endeavour was when she was arrested for dealing in minerals without a license. After the issue was resolved she managed to acquire knowledge about mining licensing and she applied for one. Muchegu is optimistic that in the near future she will be a proud owner of a mining company.


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