Zimbabwe: Ketina Mkombo

Date: August 27, 2019
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Ketina Mkombo: Entreprenuer

I started using old wool to knit hats and jerseys. I only knitted for my family before it clicked into my mind that I could earn a living through this. I later received orders from friends and I continued working on this manually. I now knitted baby sets for my neighbors as well as shawls. As the demand grew I decided to attend knitting lessons and had raised money to purchase a knitting machine. I received a number of orders and worked on them. Later on I started knitting jerseys for nearby ECDs, Primary and Secondary Schools. I started displaying my wares at the local shows and I received a number of orders which I could not meet. I contracted another person to assist me so that the number of the output increased to suit the demand. As of now I produce the jerseys, scarfs and gloves for the ECDs and surrounding schools. The jerseys have logos and the quality of the product is very good. Not only do I do knitting I am also into poultry and farming. I raise broilers for sale locally and also received orders from people in Harare who want the chickens for their canteens and for their functions. At one time I keep 200 births and their death mortality is less than 10. The money I realize from the sale of chicken is handy in my business as at times people pay for the jerseys in instalments and meanwhile I will be stocking wool in preparation for the winter sales, When I get funds from jerseys I use it vice-versa. I also am into farming and I _get maize for my family and sell the excess. I meet with other women who are also running their projects and discuss how we can improve our businesses.

My personal mission statement is to be a provider of first class products in Beatrice and in other areas. To improve on my knit ware and be the best in the locality. I wanted to provide quality meat for consumption locally and in Harare and also to expand my business to other surrounding areas and open some shops.  I again want to brand my products and bit competition locally and even in Harare. I want to teach other women on how they can start their projects. To improve business of others so that they become viable.

When I started my business, I had little income to fund my project. As a result my product did not compete very well and l lost my customers. On the other hand I was running a poultry project and I hoped to improve on my business when I sold my chickens. The local canteens made orders and took all the chickens but failed to pay for them. I was financially crippled and could not map any headway on my business. I then was invited to Council where I attended a workshop on record keeping, book keeping and marketing strategies. From the little sales I made I started to make good use of my money and there I was back into business. I sold the chickens to individuals who paid cash instead of the local kitchens. I managed to package and approach the shop owners and sold my chickens to reliable businesses.

I have been facing several challenges in this journey. In my locality the issues of gender are not taken very seriously. The reason being lack of appreciation and as such we hold regular meetings with other entrepreneurs to strategize on how we can promote gender equality. We organized ourselves so that we can meet Council requirements and run our business as required by the laws. At times resources are limited for us to reach out for more people to join and do organized projects. Because some women have no start up, they spend most of their time working in the farms day in day out. They leave for the farms in the dark hours and they came late. They have little or no time at all with their families, their earnings are very little from hand to mouth, they have a little chance to leave this way of life. The area is surrounded by farms as a result they take women to be cheap labor and pay them very little They struggle to earn a living let alone send their children to school. They are incapacitated to join women projects to earn a decent living. However with the little resources we push for the women to start their own projects and be their masters. Some of them have started their own businesses and some are yet to.

Ever since I started to do gender work, I have started attending meetings, workshops and networked with other women from other provinces. We share lighter moments, our experiences, share knowledge and some of the trends in business. I am no longer an old entrepreneur as I used to before. I now have my plans set on paper, my books are done by a professional person I engaged and my business have direction. At times I inject capital and at times it is time to reap the profits. I was invited to a program that was being sponsored by Gender Links.

I am a now well connected person through my business of knitting, i am now supplying jerseys to various schools, locals and even individuals. Also I am supplying local canteens and butcheries with chickens and also i sell some chickens at home. I have also sold my grain to the Grain Marketing Board. These projects have been of significance in my life because i am now able to cater for all my day to day expenses. “If you keep up with hard work you will soon own a very big company like Irvine’s”

At household level there has been some changes in that at times when I am away delivering some orders or selling my products, my time is now divided and as a result I will have less time with my family but however when I am around I try by all means necessary to be with my family and also attend to household chores so as not to disadvantage my family.

At institutional level we have incoporated other women to be gender champions and also to start various projects that can be of help in their day to day lives, for example I have my friend who is into cooking, it is when i encouraged her to have a project of her own that is when she started her own canteen, also i have other women who are into cross boardes, others into flea-markets and others own saloon. Being a driver of change has had this big impact at the institutional level. I am also looking forward to keep on en-coporating more and more women in the society so that they can have something that will help them in the near future. At institutional level we have en-coporated other women to be gender champions and also to start various projects that can be of help them. I am also looking forward to keep on en-coporating more and more women in the society so that they can have something that will help them in the near future. Other women are now following proper procedures of Council to own business stands and there have been very limited number of illegal vendors in the society.

Championing Gender had a positive impact on Gender policy of the Council in that there is now more of women inclusion in decision making also women are now occupying larger positions, women are now being incorporated in various activities of the Council.I undertook various trainings in which we undertook in various activities such as Balancing books of accounts, Market reserach, Advertising, Promotion, Keeping records, Applying loans, Public relation skills, Confidence building.

Through these various trainings i have learnt several lessons such as being independent, improving the image of my home, I now have confidence in selling my products, also i am now advertising my products locally through business cards and flyers, In my business i am now have proper books of accounts well managed, I also learnt of delegation through en-corporating other women in my business

In my future plans include to start a factory of knitting jerseys, to own a butchery, to spread the market to the CBD, to buy a farm for my grain produce also to have irrigation system also to have some joint ventures with other prominent business persons, also to make sure that we have reached 50/50 with our male counterparts in the society.