Zimbabwe – Nyaradzo Masamba

Date: September 6, 2018
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“Reclaiming life in the fast lanes of vending.”

Nyaradzo Masamba is a gender based violence survivor who resides at Murombedzi District Service Centre in Zvimba Rural District Council. Murombedzi is situated around 110km North West of the capital city, Harare. Zvimba R.D.C. has a total population of around 245

489people constituted by 122 562 males and 122 927 females according to ZIMSTAT (2012). Zvimba is well known for its’ high production of cash crops such as cotton, tobacco, maize and soya beans. Zvimba is also one of the richest rural local authorities. This is mainly because the famous Great Dyke runs across it thus minerals such as chrome, gold, platinum and copper are found there.

Due to the district’s busy life style, Masamba capitalised on that chance to ensure that she does not survive on handouts. Masamba is a middle aged woman who initially struggled to make ends meet with her children after her spouse left her for another woman. She regards herself as a driver of change because she is now the breadwinner having been left with nothing by her husband. The time her spouse dumped her and the children, she did not have any survival means. Masamba used to be beaten and verbally abused by her abusive husband, denied conjugal rights, and economically depended on the abusive husband thus it made her the talk of the community. During that time, Zvimba R.D.C. gender focal person, Fainesi Bwakaya, chose her to be amongst the emerging entrepreneurs to be empowered by Gender Links with survival skills. Masamba did not disappoint as she took the programme seriously thus leading to where she is now.

Masamba got invited by Bwakaya for an emerging entrepreneurs’ workshop which was to be conducted by Gender Links facilitator, Thandi Mlobane. Gender Links country manager, Priscilla Maposa and Loverage Nhamoyebonde encouraged her and other participants to challenge the male dominated world in business. She did not understand what it was going to be like and little did she know that it was going to be the turning point in her life. After the workshop, all participants were given some allowances and Masamba instantly put what she had learnt at the workshop into practice. She went into vegetable vending at Murombedzi District Service Centre. At first, she bought vegetables which included tomatoes, potatoes, onions and peas for resale. Ever since, she has never looked back.

According to Masamba, Mlobane advised every emerging entrepreneur to first assess what type of business one can start and the type of prospective clients or customers. Masamba said that Mlobane stressed the importance of assessing whether the business would be viable for it to be sustainable and most importantly to keep financial records. She realised that Murombedzi was the best place to do her business because of the many potential customers. Masamba was later invited for several emerging entrepreneurship workshops by Gender Links both at the local district council offices and Harare. On all these occasions, all participants would be given some transport allowances. She channelled the money into her business.

Since Zvimba area is rich in terms of natural conditions, Masamba got her supplies from nearby areas. She either had to use a wheelbarrow or hired an ox-drawn cart to ferry her supplies from the farmers to her market place. Masamba realised that it was cheaper to go and buy from the producers (farmers) than to wait for the farmers to supply their produce.

Masamba learnt that for a business to be successful she had to be transparent in her dealings. She admitted that there are no shortcuts in business. Commitment in business is another virtue she learnt from Gender Links. She now believes that if she was not committed from the onset she would not have successfully grown her business to what it is

now. She also learnt from Gender Links that for her to prosper, she needed to be responsible and accountable in her business dealings. She managed to separate her lifestyle from her business as advised by Mlobane. Separating her lifestyle from her business proved to be quite a difficult and painful experience to her in the initial stages but she finally managed to do it. She now has a bank account which is only for her business and an Ecocash account that caters for her family’s daily needs. Masamba confirmed that had it not been for Gender Links, she would not be a successful entrepreneur she currently is. She also acknowledges the help and support given by her church pastor throughout her difficult and trying times. Her pastor would regularly visit and have counselling and prayer sessions together with her family.

Masamba’s children are her heroes for they stood with her during her trying times. Her children usually accompanied her to the vegetable producers’ gardens and at times were left taking care of the market place. Her spouse never bothered to give a hand at first. Ironically, her spouse later came to ask for some money to spend on beer. The change in her financial status is helping her pay her children’s school fees, clothe and feed them well.

“My children are now very presentable at school or even at social gatherings unlike before. I have also managed to buy a residential stand from the council and it is registered in my name. I am currently building my four roomed house without the help of my husband with proceeds from my business. I can see that I am now a respected person within my community unlike before where I was looked down upon. Many people ask how I am managing to build a house without being formally employed. I intend to grow my business by venturing into market gardening. I joined a cooperative at Murombedzi District Service Centre and we had already acquired a piece of land which we intend to start working on very soon,” said the soft spoken Masamba.

Masamba now sells a variety of edibles at her market place. She is now renting a legalised council stand to do her operations. She now has fruits like avocadoes, oranges, nuts, vegetables and farm produce like green mealie-cobs, dried maize seed at her market place. Since the country is experiencing cash shortages, Masamba also allows her customers to use electronic money transfers such as Ecocash to purchase their goods.