Zimbabwe: *Shamiso

Zimbabwe: *Shamiso

Date: May 17, 2016
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My name is Shamiso* I am a mother of five aged 44. I was surviving with abuse before I met GL in 2013. My husband Peter* and his mother Chipo* used to verbally and physically abuse me in a bid to force me to leave my matrimonial home. The resistance I offered attracted more abusive acts from them and I was surviving through the grace of God. Peter* and Chipo* always punished me through denying me access to food, locking me outside over night in their endevour to force me to go back to my parents’ home.

My first encounter with Gender Links restored my confidence and gave me the strength to work hard to better myself. Gender Links equipped me with entrepreneurial skills throughout the three phases of the training to empower myself so that I will escape from gender based violence that was rooted in financial destitution. Apart from imparting entrepreneurial skills to me Gender Links referred me to several organizations who were working with would-be entrepreneurs assisting them to realize their goals. The confidence that I gained during the training gave me the courage to approach a local organization to get a loan to set up my business.

Before the training I usually survived on food hand outs from neighbours and other well wishers. My children failed to attain education because their father refused to pay school fees for them. I tried piece jobs like laundry, cleaning and other menial jobs but I failed to provide for the family and the suffering continued. Chipo* was in the habit of reminding me on daily basis that I must leave since I was no longer welcome. As if the insults and assaults were not enough Chipo* bragged about my husband’s girlfriends and sometimes brought them home. The situation enslaved me and made me feel worthless.

After the training I successfully got a loan of US $ 50 from a local money lender. The organisation gave me the money with an agreed consent that the money will be repaid with an interest. The training I received from GL helped me to enter into the agreement with the full knowledge of the outcome. The fear I used to have was overpowered by the knowledge and I used my lender’s offer as an opportunity.

I used US $ 50 to set up my vending business where I am specialising in fruits and vegetables. The ability to manage cash flow and research skills that helps me to forecast imminent risks made my business successful. My business operates in tandem with market demands hence minimising losses that might accrue as a result of poor storage facilities for perishables. I conducted market research before I purchased my stock from farmers for resale. My business realised profits and I repaid the loan and they gave me another loan of US $ 75. I used the money to boost my business and managed to repay it within 30 days. I went back to the organisation and obtained US $ 100 which I used to finance my business and I am repaying the money through installments pegged at US $ 4 per day. I will complete repaying the loan within 30 days and I no longer have plans to get another loan because I can now self-fund my business.

Apart from using council facilities during the training, the local authority never assisted us in any way after the workshops. I am hopeful that the Council will help us with the much needed services that will make us realise our dreams.

I am now a financially empowered woman who is able to put food on the table, pay school fees for my children, buy clothes and pay rent. I no longer depend on Peter* and her mother for survival. The two are now treating me with respect and they always borrow from me when faced with challenges.

My family now enjoys middle class lifestyle in our community and I feel indebted to GL for the positive development. However, I am yet to achieve my initial business plan of cross border trading because the start-up is not yet enough. I am trying to avoid getting a loan from money lenders because I want to self fund my business. Since the money needed as start-up is pegged beyond my reach I might end up engaging money lenders, provided there will be collateral.

Peace is now prevailing in my house and gender based violence is now a thing of the past. I already put my past experiences behind me and I am now focusing on my business. I am of the view that the success of my business is the foundation of my well-being. The dependence situation that I was living in before I met Gender Links cost me my happiness and I regret the time that was lost before my encounter with Gender Links.

My neighbour benefited a lot from the changes that took place in my life. After noticing the methods I applied to fight gender based violence she approached me seeking for advice. I shared with her my notes and she successfully self-funded her small business. Gender based violence that used to reign in her house is now minimal and with time it is set to be totally eradicated. By 2030 I will be a prominent business person in my community. I wish to buy big assets for the business so that I will be competitive.