Zimbabwe: Pamela Ngayo

Date: September 25, 2018
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Mercy is a married woman with five children. Today, she reflects on how she had survived when she relied on her husband to support her. “Life was unbearable and relying on someone for survival will make a person vulnerable,” she said.

Mercy* operated a butcher shop in 2007 and closed it in 2008 after failing to overcome several challenges that were associated with the business. She specialised in perishables and the lack of storage facilities forced her to close down. A lack of adequate skills in business management was also a contributing factor to her failure. The closure of the shop shattered her dreams and she continued to rely on her husband for survival, a situation that exposed her to further abuse.

The year 2008 saw the economy of Zimbabwe go downhill and the situation negatively affected the horticultural sector. Mercy* observed a local farmer who was in horticultural production being pushed out of business by the situation and she convinced herself to try the trade. The farmer decided to leave the farm and he uprooted all the flowers and dumped them. Mercy* and her friends gathered the uprooted flowers and transplanted them on her piece of land. She nurtured them until they were mature for the harvest. Unfortunately, she failed to realise any profits due the high inflation that at that time was damaging the economy.

Mercy* remained optimistic that the economic meltdown would one day come to an end and she preserved the seeds for future use. The economy significantly improved in 2009 after the introduction of the multi-currency system, Mercy* adopted a “wait and see technique.” The year 2012 saw her coming back into business after satisfying herself that the state of the economy would allow her to remain in business. Her business grew significantly and with time she managed to put 1, 5 acres under flowers. The flowers take three months to mature for harvest. Most of her products are used during weddings, parties and funerals.

Her encounter with Gender Links, which saw her enroll in the entrepreneurship programme, came at the right time as it equipped her with skills that helped her business grow. The business management skills she gained saw her acquire irrigation equipment to mitigate problems of erratic rainfall patterns. She also did a market survey that helped her to widen her market base and maximize profits.

Community members benefited from the irrigation equipment because they started gardening projects to take advantage of the presence of the newly installed irrigation system. Mercy* has plans to sink a borehole to maximize water supplies and ensure that her project and the community have adequate water. Apart from supplying the community with water, she has also created employment for the community members.

Mercy’s* living standard was raised from the lower to the middle class. When she was financially empowered, the levels of violence in her house decreased. Nevertheless, the violence recently started again. She feels that it was triggered by the fact that her husband felt jealous when he saw her progre