Zimbabwe: Ellen Patana

Zimbabwe: Ellen Patana

Date: May 17, 2016
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If people are ignorant of their rights and capabilities they will live in bondage. Women should not be ignorant of their capabilities and rights. Gender Links taught us about economic empowerment and I realised that ignorance has been limiting me in this area. The word entrepreneur is not gender sensitive and with knowledge women can also be successful entrepreneurs.

I joined Gender Links training on the 7th of October 2013. At first I thought the organization wanted to use us to for its own publicity. On the first day they took a lot of pictures, asked us to write our gender based violence stories and asked us if we would like our stories to be published in newspapers. This made me think that the organization is not there for our good cause. The zeal to know what would follow kept me coming to the training. After the first course my perception changed realising the seriousness and intensity of the training. We were taught about business registration, entrepreneurship and banking. The training gave me confidence to take risks as is the requirement of every business.

Before I joined Gender Links I had worked under various organizations creating awareness and fighting gender based violence. I lived with bitterness after experiencing domestic violence from my former husband. The bitterness drove me to work under various organizations fighting gender based violence. I thought of a way to retaliate men in general and for me the way to do it was to teach women their rights and fight with them. I managed to assist a lot of women over the years. Then GL came into my life and I was taught of better a way to fight domestic violence against women. As we were being trained I got motivated and started buying and selling perfumes. I already knew what gender violence is and used to think the only way out is to raise awareness and punish perpetrators. GL taught us that there is more we can do besides acquiring knowledge about the term gender based violence. I learnt the concepts of marketing and I have been using them in my business. Business is how you do it to the people you meet. The business is growing and I am making a living out of it. Most of my customers are from the network I got from my previous efforts in creating gender based violence awareness. I have also managed to create awareness of my products at our church and at Chegutu council offices. I managed to open a bank account and this has enabled me to separate business funds from funds for private consumption. I was also taught on the importance of patience and commitment. Every big business has got humble beginnings, so I accepted that I have to start small. I am in the process of registering my business because I desire to grow.

Economic empowerment eradicates economic crisis of which most cases of gender based violence emanates from economic crisis. I am now able to buy nice clothes for myself and I am more presentable. When I was working creating awareness of gender based violence, I had nothing to inspire the community besides the knowledge. Nowadays I inspire most people in my society, that they can fight violence through getting wealth. I also teach my children the importance of doing business. People used to gossip about me saying, “She has the knowledge of gender based violence, but has nothing to show for it”. Now they see me differently than before. I have been approached quite often with people asking me to lend them money. The training has made it possible for me to interact with business people.

I have plans to build a big house at the stand that I have. I wish to continue promoting my business and see it growing. The company’s name shall be Eln Fragments. I intend to add more beauty and health products in my business. By the year 2030 I should have built my own shop and having three more outlets for my business. I have already started buying the building material for the shop even though I am yet to get the commercial stand.

I thank GL for equipping me with business knowledge. The organisation came into my life when I already had some knowledge about gender based violence. I thank them for making me realise that I can fight for my position in the society by just getting wealth. In order to make it in life one needs not to wait for donors but to use what they have to get money.