Zimbabwe: *Chimuti

Zimbabwe: *Chimuti

Date: May 19, 2016
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My name is Chimuti* I am a beneficiary of the entrepreneurship training. Gender Links Entrepreneurship Programme was well-timed because it came at a time when I was on the verge of collapsing. I joined the entrepreneurship training in 2013 with the intention to find somewhere where I can spend time because I thought that the programme would only relate to a certain group of people. I later realised that we all had the same issues that had brought us together. I had never imagined that there were people out there willing to listen and empower women.

During all the three phases I attended, we were not given the fish but we were taught how to fish. The knowledge imparted to me was priceless. Sister Thandiwe was very clear in her lectures and moved with a pace that everyone coped with. She emphasised the importance of keeping records when in business and also the need to have a capital reserve all the time. Market assessment was also an interesting concept that I grasped as she gave very good examples that I could easily relate to.

After the five day training workshop I received transport reimbursements from Gender Links. With this money I started a small project buying and selling snacks. The little profit I was realising failed to boost the business due to too many responsibilities like food and school fees. I later managed to apply for the BEAM fund that facilitates and pays school fees for underprivileged children so as to ease the burden of paying school fees. I managed to save some money and I included vegetables on my stock. I made this decision after I assessed the market feasibility to see who my competitors are and how many they are and I was convinced that it was a worthwhile investment.

Before my encounter with Gender Links, I was selling snacks, but lack of knowledge on how to properly manage the business was impeding me from taking the idea to the next level. After the training I managed to boost my business and I am now selling snacks and vegetables. I give credit to the training because it is the one that made me to be where I am today. The council visited my business and they saw my new business.

Before I was selected to participate in the entrepreneurship programme I was facing gendr based violence. Life had never been rosy for me and my children because my husband Zava* was not taking care of us. He works at the council but did not want to pay school fees for his children and claimed that when he was young he worked for his own school fees and the children must do the same. As for our daughter, he refused to send her to school saying that she will get married and her husband will take care of her. One of his workmates used to give us money for rent and food every month but he was not even ashamed that his family is getting help from someone. He was spending his money on beer and extra marital affairs.

I was diagnosed with tuberculosis since 2010. The doctor said my lungs have sores on them which make it difficult for me to breathe especially when I overwork myself. The condition was so serious that if I go out in the morning for three consecutive days I begin to have difficulties in breathing. This always resulted in me being bed ridden for more than two weeks. In the same vein, if I carried out heavy tasks like washing, weeding or lifting heavy things I would fall sick. When feeling pain I was not able to do simple things like lifting a glass of water to my mouth. Someone has to be there to see me through. Zava* was never there to take care of me but he used to shout at me telling me that I should be careful with my health or else I will die. This is regardless of the fact that he knew that I was trying to earn something for the children.

Gender Links empowered me economically because it gave me the knowledge to work hard and take care of myself. I am now able to buy food and pay school fees for the children. My husband now respects me because I no longer ask him for anything. Community members no longer look down upon me after they noticed the change that took place in my life. I am now a respectable business woman in the community and I am involved in rotating groceries” scheme with other women from our community. Currently I am failing to acquire a shop due to financial constraints. I am working hard to overcome that challenge so that by 2030 I will be owning my own grocery shop.