Zimbabwe: Antoneta Chiminya

Zimbabwe: Antoneta Chiminya

Date: May 17, 2016
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The coming of Gender Links (GL) in 2014 helped me to open a new chapter in my life. I am a holder of a national certificate in leather technology which I never put to good use ever since acquiring it. It was gathering dust in the cupboard while I depend on my husband for survival. After the GL entrepreneurship programme, I discovered that I had been sitting on my laurels. I realised that I was failing to put my knowledge to good use. GL made the final push to get me going and I went straight into buying and selling handbags, shoes and belts which I acquired from Mozambique. GL taught me how to set up and manage a successful business. I really got to understand the basics of market research, record keeping and stock control. These three are useful business formulas and I am a living testimony.

I managed to attend all three stages of the training and successfully completed the entrepreneurship course. I was encouraged to open a bank account to ensure that my business finances are safe. I am now someone who is able to identify business opportunities. I am currently selling fish at a local school after I stopped my major business of selling clothing materials. I used to get the material from David Whitehead textiles and supply my community with ready-made wrappers. Unfortunately, the factory closed and I reverted to selling fish.

Through the economic empowerment I got from GL, the community is now highly regarding me. People used to despise me because I am a single mother. I am always encouraging mu neighbours to report any form of abuse to the police so that levels of Gender Base Violence will be reduced.

Several years before my encounter with GL my ex-husband Chinyama* decided to leave me for another woman whom he married customarily and he took custody of all the children. This was because I could not take care of them as I had no source of income whatsoever so much that my hands were tied. I could not fight him in court. However, my mother-in-law and sister in-law were supporting my husband. I went through difficult times in their hands. The thought of my kids growing without me breaks my heart especially during holidays when I know that they are around but I cannot be with them.

I travel to Mozambique twice a month and I bring shoes and handbags to sell. Most of my clients are teachers and nurses who mostly buy court shoes and even school shoes for their children. They usually buy on credit and we agree on payment terms to which most of them are faithful but there are a few who are bad debtors. I am now able to look after myself without stripping my pride through asking for money from my ex-husband like I used to do. Chinyama has noted the development that took place in my life since April 2014 when my business flourished, but since pride takes the better part of him he would not openly appreciate what I am doing.

Unlike in the past, I am now able to take care of myself and I look much better than I used to in the past. We were taught that one should look presentable at all times especially when selling goods. I have created a niche for myself in the business world and clients always look for me as their first option when they want leather products. The basic knowledge of record keeping helped me to keep track of all my debtors and to ascertain the profit or loss thereof. Due to the long distance travel and cross boarder costs, the profit margins are quite low but it is sustainable as long as I make sure that I do not misuse the capital. I opened a bank account where I keep money for the business and to avoid unnecessary expenditure just like we were taught.

My biggest plan is to own a leather manufacturing company where I can convert raw materials into finished products. If I become the manufacturer I will be able to avoid the middle man as well as costs associated with buying from other people. I estimated the set up cost of my business and gathered that it will require a maximum of US $ 10 000 working capital in order to come up with a well-equipped factory. Some have told me that I am being over ambitious but I know that one day I will get there. I opened a bank account where I put all profits that I make from my buying and selling business. I am hoping to meet people who share the same vision with me so that we can approach the bank to get a loan since the business plan is already in place.