Zimbabwe: Mildred Mango

Date: September 20, 2018
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“Gender Links (GL) came into my life at a time when I had lost hope with life. Before joining GL I had stress to the extent of having suicidal thoughts. I now have hope and confidence for a better life. I now have peace of mind,” Mildred Mango.

“The year 2016 came as a relief to me when I was assigned a mentor to assist me in my business. My mentor took me back to the basics of business management. I am now putting everything on paper and after every trade a record is being made in order to manage my business properly. My marketing strategies were also strengthened and I am now effectively using text messages to inform my customers when the crop is ready for the harvest. I manage to add more products like green beans, rape and pumpkin leaves,”

  The mentorship exercise helped Mildred Mango to out-compete her competitors. These farmers grow the same crops and it made them to have few customers. She maintained consistent supply of the products to the customers and her clientele base expanded. She also changed packaging and she is delivering the products to the nearest main road using her newly acquired ox drawn cart.

“I am proud to announce that I bought an ox and a plough to supplement my farming equipment,”-Mango.

Mango was into subsistence farming together with her husband. The abuse she was suffering in the hands of her husband forced her to reflect on her life and she decided to do business on her own. She wanted to use this as an opportunity to freely apply the skills and the lessons she learnt during the training. When she started growing crops on her own the business started growing.

Mango was referred to GL by her ward councillor in 2014 and she immediately joined the entrepreneurship programme. She managed to attend the two phases of the training and failed to attend the last phase of the training. Her phone was not reachable prior to the workshop and the organisers failed to get hold of her. She found the lesson on the importance of market research and business planning and she immediately put it into practice in her business.

“My husband totally stopped supporting the family when I started doing farming business on my own. He was in the habit of taking my profits and used them to pursue his personal interests. My children were being chased away from school because I was failing to pay school fees. The situation forced me to treat my business seriously and depend upon myself. Unfortunately, heavy rains washed away two thirds of my first crops. I also lost three quarters of my second crop after encountering a long dry spell. In July 2015 frost affected my entire winter crop. This came as a strong challenge that threatened the existence of my business.

To overcome the challenges that were facing her business, she approached her mother who gave her a piece of land. The piece of land was supplied water by canal irrigation. Her business was boosted and started realising huge profit margins.

“I used to counsel her before she encountered Gender Links because she was always thinking of committing suicide. When she later went for the training I gave her a piece of land where she started a horticultural business. Her life influenced many lives because many women in the community copied the example she had set and they are now into projects,” Mangos’ mother.

The only action that I took to challenge some social norms and values was when I reported my husband to the police for selling our cattle without my consent. She thanked GL for giving her the capability to create new links where she got assistance on some of the issues that were affecting her.

“My husband used to spend the returns from the produce without consulting me. He was doing all these bad things because I was not confident enough to do the farming on my own,” Mango.

Since the business was growing, Mango managed to get people who help her with labour. She will assist the labourers with maize grain. Community members were grateful to find where they can earn a living from.

“I noticed a big change in the life of Mango. I always help her with labour in her farm. I am hopeful that with the availability of resources she can greater things,” Kainosi Makiramba a community member.

Mango’s husband refused to accept that the change that took place in his wife was as a result of the training she had received. He claimed that she was getting assistance from boyfriends and that she cover up by saying I am being trained.

“My husband used to shout at me in the presence of both our children and the public. The violence has significantly declined. I attributed this to the economic empowerment that was brought into my life. Previously we used to have serious problems with my husband whenever he refuses to pay school fees for our children. I no longer ask him to support us,” Mango.

Mango was living in isolation in her own community because people viewed her as a burden. Now she is a source of inspiration and has earned respect from them. Women with similar situations are approaching her for advice and she feel indebted to GL.

“I usually assist other women through offering them the opportunity to work on my fields,” Mango.

Apart from GL there are also some factors that contributed to the change that took place in Mango’s life. Her mother gave her counselling and advice so that she will not commit suicide. Other community members were assisting he wit food hand-outs. Goromonzi Rural District Council assisted her through identifying her as a candidate to be trained by GL.

“I used to also get assistance from my relatives in the form of food and clothes for my children. I also joined a savings club with women in our community, and it has helped me a lot.

Mango has plans to invest in her farming business and see develop. She has plans to have a bigger piece of land for farming. She however, thanked GL for coming to her rescue timorously. She is convinced that the organisation came as an answer to her prayers.