Zimbabwe – Diana

Date: September 6, 2018
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“Breeding chickens for the community to achieve healthy lives.”

Diana is an emerging businesswoman from Manyame Rural District Council. Diana conducts her business in Beatrice area, which is around fifty kilometres south of Harare.

About two thirds of Beatrice population are in the farming business and the remainder either commute or drive to Harare daily for different activities in Zimbabwe’s capital city, Harare. Diana resides with her family and feels that she is indeed a driver of change in her area. She feels that the change to her lifestyle for the better is now the talk of her area. Diana never thought that she would wake up being a successful businessperson.

As a survivor of gender based violence, Diana never thought that one day she would be financially independent as her poultry business is growing significantly. She was entirely dependent on her husband’s financial assistance which was the main cause of the quarrels in her family. The abuse ranged from economic, physical, emotional and psychological. She attributes her not being gainfully employed as the main cause of gender based violence before she started her business. Diana’s school going children used to be sent away for late or non payment of school fees but it is now a thing of the past. Her husband now respects her and even consults her on some crucial matters because she is now contributing to the family’s upkeep.

Diana’s most memorable experience with Gender Links was when she was invited for an entrepreneurship workshop. Little did she know that the workshop was her ticket to a self sustaining livelihood. She took note of whatever was lectured to them during the workshop thus she finds no difficulties in running her poultry project. Diana* is very grateful to Gender Links for affording her the chance to train as an entrepreneur as this had eradicated both the violence and poverty she faced in her life.

Diana’s project of raising three hundred chickens every eight weeks had seen her being a successful business woman in her area. She keeps her business records as she was taught at the entrepreneurship workshop. She is now able to assist other small upcoming business people in drafting business plans. Her husband used to come home late at night or even to come the following day and would never entertain any interrogation. Nowadays, he communicates if he is to stay out late or give an understandable apology. Her husband is now very transparent financially and in every aspect because she is now putting something on the table. Diana gladly said that she is a growing businesswoman and her husband boasts about her whenever and wherever he is with his workmates. He genuinely assists in the running of the project whenever he is at home. She is no longer financially depending on her husband who used to be the abuser.

The entrepreneurial skills she acquired from Gender Links workshops have assisted her in the moulding and growing of her business. After every workshop, Gender Links would give participants some transport allowances. That money meant a lot to all the emerging entrepreneurs who would have attended as they would channel it into their businesses. My special regards go to Thandiwe Mlobane, the Gender Links entrepreneur facilitator. Mlobane would use our vernacular languages whenever she noticed that participants had not grasped any concept or important aspect in her presentations. During her presentations, she would give real life examples which would stick onto the participants mind for long. Manyame, as a local authority, helped a lot by supporting Diana’s* business venture. The local authority personnel linked her with prospective buyers who immediately gave huge orders such that at times she cannot meet the demand for chickens.

Gender Links workshops have instilled business values in Diana. She is now able to separate herself from business such that she has a stand-alone account only meant for her business. This enables her to gauge if the business is growing or not. According to Diana* she does not mix business funds with her other household expenditures. She is also keeping her financial records, diary and everything in connection with her business in a safe place.

Diana relates her development to the support that she initially got from her daughters. According to Diana, her daughters would go an extra mile in seeing that the business succeeded. She can now afford to buy some luxuries for her children without begging for money from her husband. Her relatives are now considering following her footsteps in the poultry business. Diana has led the way in Beatrice area and many survivors of gender based violence are copying from her. She said that in most cases potential buyers place orders well before the maturity age of her chickens.

In her community, Diana is happy that she is being recognised as an influential person because of her energetic spirit and readiness to assist with business ideas. Lots of women regularly pay her visits asking how she started and what actually is making her business grow. Diana shyly acknowledges that she has come from a being a survivor to a heroin because of Gender Links. Other men now publicly regard that empowering a woman is empowering the whole family and community at large. Though Diana* is not a professional in writing business plans, she admits that she has helped lots of people in this regard.

In Beatrice area, Diana is regarded as ‘Mudzimai Wanhasi’ which literally means ‘Today’s Woman’. Diana likes networking so as to have a wider knowledge on business aspects from different people. She also is in the habit of sharing business ideas with people not only in Beatrice.

She constantly communicates with people like Loverage Nhamoyebonde, Mlobane and Gender Links country manager, Priscilla Maposa. She attends all Gender Links entrepreneurship workshops and annual summit sharing her experience, knowledge and challenges with other participants. At the 2018 Gender Links annual summit, she came second best in the Emerging Entrepreneurship category.

Initially, Diana’s spouse was uncomfortable in letting her attend Gender Links workshops. She said that he felt that she would expose his actions to the world yet she was only being empowered with survival skills which he is now acknowledging. She also faced challenges in having start up capital. However, she got assisted with what Gender Links gave her as transport allowance. She also got contracted by Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority for a few months and that was how she started her poultry business. Her husband did not even help her at first but later changed when he realized that she was doing well. Diana plans to supply big companies like the popular food outlet, Chicken Inn. She believes that if women are adequately empowered with the necessary resources and knowledge they can match or surpass their male counterparts in any business field.